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All-Star games raise excitement

The Magnolia State is blessed with outstanding high school football talent. College football recruiters from across the nation land in Mississippi and inspect the prospects on Friday nights during the season. You also find them at spring football games, summer 7-on-7 tournaments and at practices in general.

     Ole Brook head football coach Tommy Clopton said it best during Thursday’s MAC All-Star Football Game Selection Conference in Jackson. “There are very talented football players in Mississippi.”

     Clopton is serving as head coach of the South squad for the 67th Bernard Blackwell All-Star Football Classic. Ole Brook defensive coordinator Chaz Allen is working as defensive line coach. The Classic will be played Dec. 22, at Gulfport, kicking off at 12:05 p.m.

     Not to be overlooked is the Mississippi-Alabama Classic, which will be played Dec. 15, in Montgomery, Ala. Two local players, defensive end JaBoree Poole of Brookhaven and defensive back Brandon Wells of Bogue Chitto, were chosen to the Mississippi squad.

     Clopton’s South team features several area players. They are defensive back Jonah Hill and running back Justin Blue of Brookhaven; offensive linemen Spencer Touchstone of Franklin County, Cullen Greer of Wesson,  and Joseph Nelson of Hazlehurst;  linebackers Demetrius Cain of Hazlehurst and  Cody Gilcrest of Jefferson County, wide receiver Germie Martin of Bogue Chitto, and defensive back Olajuwan O’Neal of Jefferson County.

     Like Clopton, Mississippi head coach Junior Graham of Eupora said the selection process was a demanding task. It began last spring when the all-star coaches were selected.

     “This was a tough process,” said Clopton. “We feel good about the team. They will do a good job representing the South.”

     Graham said he never realized how much time, extra effort and planning were required in selecting the Mississippi team. “We knew about a player’s talent. Our coaches made a lot of phone calls. They wanted to know about a player’s character and what kind of motor (intensity) he had.”

     Alabama has dominated the annual game against the Magnolia Staters. Graham said, “Our No. 1 goal is a victory for Team Mississippi. This is a one-time experience for these players and they don’t get a second chance to play together. They have got to put it all on the line for one game.”

     For the record, Alabama has won four straight in the border war and 14 of the last 17. This will be the 25th meeting between the two states.


     Meanwhile, Professor Hoopla B.S., is taking his prognosticating seriously; one game at a time. He predicted the winners of  26 games last week and managed to get 21 correct. Special congrats to the Ole Brook Panthers and Mississippi’s three SWAC members for producing upset victories.

     He’ll start this weekend’s action with the Friday night high school scene.

      Brookhaven at Stone County:  Panthers appear to have found the winning combination, just in time for a late-season surge. Brookhaven 30-14.

      Brookhaven Academy at ACCS:  Looks like the Cougars are beginning to peak as the season winds down. Brookhaven Academy 39-16.

      Stringer at Bogue Chitto:  How strong are the Bobcats on defense? They’ll find out tomorrow night. Bogue Chitto 29-19.

      Enterprise at Loyd Star:  The Sting Bowl has become the 0-For Bowl and Homecoming, too, as the Hornets ease past the  Yellow Jackets in an epic Lincoln County showdown of winless teams. Loyd Star 14-12.

      West Lincoln at Sacred Heart:  The Bears will conclude their two years as an independent team Friday night with a second win over the Crusaders, giving them a winning record. West Lincoln 33-18.

      Wesson at Madison St. Joe:  Cobras face a strong road test as the battle the undefeated Bruins. St. Joe 32-20.

      Columbia at Lawrence County:   Wildcats have made dramatic improvement under former Tylertown boss Walter Denton. Cougars are rebuilding. Columbia 21-12.

      Prentiss at Franklin County:       Homecoming in Meadville brings out the best in the host Bulldogs. Franklin County 27-14.

      Hazlehurst at Jefferson County:  Indians invade Fayette and must beware of the upset-minded Tigers. Hazlehurst 24-16.

      Copiah Academy at Parklane:  After winning a skirmish at Hillcrest Christian, the Colonels must cope with a talented group of Pioneers. Parklane 36-14.

      In other area games,  Tylertown over North Pike 45-12, McComb over Wingfield 46-12, Purvis over South Pike 21-18 and Wilkinson County over Crystal Springs 47-20.


     After thoughtfully sipping a Diet Sunkist, Hoopla previews Saturday’s collegiate scene, starting with two community college contests.

      Gulf Coast at Co-Lin:  In a showdown for the South Division’s top rung, the Bulldogs spoil the Wolfpack’s homecoming celebration and escape Stone Stadium with a victory. Gulf Coast 27-20.

      Jones County at Southwest:  Coach Ray Perkins and the Bobcats take out their frustrations on the struggling Bears. Jones County 42-10.

      Marshall at Southern Miss:  Uncle Fred would say the Golden Eagles have seen their season go from worse to worser. Marshall 35-25.

      Middle Tennessee State at Mississippi State:  Overconfidence is the main challenge facing the No. 15-ranked Bulldogs in Starkville. State 38-17.

      Valley State at Jackson State:       Rejuvenated by a rare win over Grambling, the Delta Devils hunt another trophy in the Capital City. Tigers are ready. Jackson State 28-10.

      In other games,  involving Magnolia State institutions of higher learning, Prairie View over Alcorn State 22-14, Valdosta State over Delta State 28-17, Millsaps over Rhodes 20-10, Mississippi College over Texas Lutheran 17-10 and Belhaven over Lindsey Wilson 27-17. Ole Miss has an open date to relive its SEC win over Auburn.

     Contact sports editor Tom Goetz by Email: tgoetz@dailyleader.com