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Hoff, Hardy hope for Mississippi win

Offensive guard Kern Hoff of Brookhaven and linebacker WayneHardy of Lawrence County played against each other for threevarsity years of football. Saturday night they’ll be working as ateam in the 15th Annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic.

Kickoff is 7 p.m. in Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium.

A bus transported the Mississippi All-Stars to Mobile Sundayafternoon. They have practiced twice daily this week, enduring theearly summer heat.

Hardy (6-I, 217) has been enrolled at the University of SouthernMississippi this summer. In February he became the first-everLawrence County athlete to sign a Division I football scholarshipstraight out of high school.

“I’ve been going to class and lifting weights,” said Hardy. “I’mtrying to get ready for the game”

Hardy, projected as a running back at USM, said he is enjoyingthe college campus life. “Southern is great. I’m taking math andhistory at USM. Most of the players are on campus for thesummer.”

Hardy said he was optimistic about tomorrow night’s contest. “Weshould do good if everybody works hard to get ready for the game. Ihope we can pull it out.”

In Mobile, Hardy is playing outside linebacker and defensive endfor the Mississippi team. At Lawrence County, first-year head coachTrent Hammond moved Hardy to tailback during preseason practice andthe rest is history.

As a senior, Hardy rushed for 1,608 yards and scored 25touchdowns. He also played linebacker and led the Cougars with 123tackles. He was named The Daily Leader’s Player of the Year on the2001 All-Area Football Team.

Hoff (6-0, 240) will play for the Mississippi College Choctawsthis fall. An honor roll student, he maintained a 4.0 GPA hissenior year. He is a 2-time selection on the DL’s All-LincolnCounty Football Team.

Hoff is playing for Mississippi head coach Greg Wall, his formercoach at BHS for three years. Wall had returned to South Pike in2001 where he had coached for 23 years before moving to Brookhaven.Wall spent five years at BHS.

As a senior, Hoff played for Andrew Hickman at BHS. He was namedto the All-Division 6-4A squad and a recipient of the LindyCallahan Scholar/Athlete Award.

Hoff said he is enjoying his reunion with Wall. “It’s fun. It’sjust like old times. He said he’s going fishing as soon as the gameis over.”

Despite the heat, Hoff said practices have been rewarding. “Weare doing real well. We are having some good practices. We had agood one Wednesday.”

Hoff is working mainly at left guard. “We are running a wholelot of shotgun. I’ll be doing some pass blocking,” said Hoff.

Two quarterbacks, Aries Nelson from Cleveland East Side andBrett Morgan from Warren Central, are calling most of theplays.

Hoff said running back Torey Staten from D’Iberville is lookinggood. Staten replaced standout Jarius Norwood of Brandon at runningback due to a slow recovery from surgery to remove two bone spursin his feet.

According to Hoff, the Mississippi squad is coming together. “Weare starting to jell real nicely in the short time we’ve had.”

To beat Alabama, Hoff said Mississippi must overachieve on passdefense. “We hear they also throw the ball well. Our defensivebacks and linemen will have to play real good, too.”

Hoff and several of his senior classmates from BHS were on aCaribbean cruise last week. The cruise ship had a lavish workoutcenter so Hoff was able to life weights and do some running to stayin shape.

During the cruise he met Richard Burch from Brandon, who wasalso playing in the All-Star Classic. Hoff and Burch have beendormitory roommates this week. Burch is an offensive tackle andwill attend Mississippi State this fall.

“We want to bring home a victory for Mississippi,” saidHoff.

Alabama beat Mississippi 33-14 last year to claim its thirdstraight victory in the series which Alabama leads 9-5.

Assisting Wall with the Mississippi squad are Rusty Funk ofHouston, Anthony Jenkins of Hernando, Roy McCrory of Columbus, M.C.Miller of Noxubee County, Danny Roberts of Durant and MarcellusSingleton of Leflore County. Steve Rudolph of East Central isworking as administrative coach.

“Our defense is doing well,” said Funk. He coached three yearsat BHS before going to Houston where he has enjoyed exceptionalsuccess with the Hilltoppers.