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Area all-stars ride team bus to Mobile, Ala.

A large charter bus rolled to a stop in Collins Wednesday andpicked up four talented football players before continuing itsjourney south on Highway 49. Quarterback Charles (Bobo) Ranciferand wide receiver Simmie Yarborough of Brookhaven stowed their gearin the belly of the bus and quickly stepped inside, looking for aseat to share.

Also looking for a seat on the bus were Franklin Countydefensive linemen Bo Tillman and Josh Tillman. They too are animportant part of the Mississippi squad which will test Alabama’sbest Monday night in the 21st Annual Classic. Kickoff is 7 p.m. inMobile’s Ladd-Peebles Memorial Stadium.

According to Ole Brook athletic director Tucker Peavey, alimited number of all-star tickets are available at the CentralOffice. The price is $7 each.

In an effort to raise interest in the Classic, it was moved fromJune to December. Both states have just completed their statechampionships. Players are fresher and in better condition.

The most difficult part for the respective coaching staffs wasselecting the 37-member dream teams. In the past, many selectionswere determined by which senior players signed major collegescholarships in February.

According to Mississippi head coach Kenny Robinson of Mize, thetime frame for pregame preparation was severely reduced. In thepast, a weekend minicamp was held in early May to review alignmentson offense and defense.

This time, many of the all-stars were playing for statechampionships last weekend. Laurel quarterback Akeem Davis was alate addition to the squad, joining Rancifer and Bret Jefcoat ofItawamba AHS at that key position.

According to Rancifer, he could see playing time as a widereceiver and defensive back. His speed makes him a threat onkickoff returns, too.

“I’m ready to go,” said Rancifer. He and Yarborough both playedbasketball Tuesday night in the Panthers’ Division 6-4A gameagainst Port Gibson.

On the gridiron, Rancifer was instrumental in leading thePanthers to the region championship (6-0) and an 8-3 finalworksheet. He rushed for 929 yards and 12 touchdowns. He completed58 of 95 passes for 806 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Overall, Rancifer amassed 2,126 yards. Besides basketball,Rancifer runs track. He competes in the 4×100 meter relay and thehigh jump where he has cleared 6-1.

Asked about his future, Rancifer said he wants to play collegefootball. Giving him the most recruiting interest is NorthwesternState (La.) University where former BHS teammate Darius Perkinsplayed defensive end for the Demons last season as a redshirtsophomore.

“Right now, I’m just focused on school,” said Rancifer. He’llretake the ACT in February.

Questioned about his all-star teammate, Rancifer said, “Simmieis the type of receiver every quarterback looks for. He not onlycatches the ball but he is a good blocker. When I make a bad throw,he will do his best to catch it.”

Yarborough caught 28 passes for 435 yards and 5 touchdowns thisseason. Also used as a running back and return specialist, heaccumulated 812 total yards.

“I’m ready to see what’s going on and how everything is going tobe working,” said Yarborough. He vividly remembers watching hisolder cousin, Aaron Yarborough, who played in the 1999 Classic.

“I made up my mind, then that I wanted to play in it,” saidSimmie. “They should have let Aaron run the ball more. All he didwas block.”

Yarborough said he was looking forward to catching more passesfrom Rancifer in the Classic. They will practice today and continuetwo-a-days until a Sunday morning workout. The all-stars will betreated to a banquet that night.

Yarborough said he has been contacted by Northwestern (La.),Southeastern (La.), Arkansas State and Purdue. He wants to teachmath and coach football after college.

He also plays basketball and runs track. He competes in the4x200 relay, throws the shotput and does the high jump.

“I like to stay in shape and it (sports) makes the school gofaster, too,” said Yarborough. “It keeps me busy.”

For sure the all-stars will be busy the rest of the weekpreparing for the Classic.

Write to sports editor Tom Goetz, c/o The DAILY LEADER, P.O.BOX 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602 or e-mailsports@dailyleader.com