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ALA-MISS ALL-STAR NOTES: River Region players make marks on game

St. James star Sterling Jones enjoyed his week in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game. (Photo by Drew Gayle)

By Tim Gayle
RRS Correspondent
(December 11, 2016)

St. James linebacker Sterling Jones was satisfied after the Alabama all-stars rallied for a 25-14 win over Mississippi in the 30th annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game at Cramton Bowl on Saturday.

The senior had played on special teams, helping on kickoff return to spring Robert E. Lee’s Henry Ruggs for a 90-yard kickoff return, and at inside linebacker, recording two tackles in the contest.

Because there is no blitzing or stunting – and because Mississippi had some success early with stretch plays that worked on the perimeter of Alabama’s defense – there wasn’t a lot of action for Jones. Much of the action was on either side of the line, where Spanish Fort’s Thomas Johnston had 16 tackles and Jackson-Olin’s T.D. Moultry had nine.

“I think I gave it all my best,” Jones said. “I loved it out here, coming to compete and building the relationships with the great players in Alabama.”

The weeklong practice gave him a chance to build relationships — and to gauge his own performance — with Auburn commitments Kenney Britt of Oxford and Moultry as well as Johnston, an uncommitted senior who owns the state’s career tackles record with 678.

“I think that’s always good, just knowing how hard you have to work to be just as good or better than them,” Jones said.

Anderson makes most of position change

Montgomery Catholic star Brian Anderson got a different look at opposing defenses on Saturday, lining up at center to play in the 30th annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game at Cramton Bowl.

“It was my first game playing center, but I felt like I did pretty good,” Anderson said. “It was a lot different, especially getting used to it in practice this week. But playing in the game against big SEC commits, it was a good opportunity to showcase my ability, especially coming from Montgomery Catholic, a smaller 4A school where people don’t think there’s much talent.”

Anderson, likely an all-state selection at tackle who is committed to play at North Carolina, said he got an idea early in the process that he would be moved to center, along with Cullman tackle Hunter Brannon, an Alabama commitment.

“It’s something they really looked at me for,” Anderson said. “The nose guard (Mississippi all-stars) play is 6-3, 355, so they needed somebody they knew could move him off the line.”

He was referring to Pascagoula High defensive lineman James Jackson, although he often faced Germantown defensive lineman Nathan Perry (6-4, 280) as well.

While Brannon struggled mightily with shotgun snaps, Anderson was fairly seamless in his transition to a new position, helping Alabama to a 25-14 victory over the visitors.

“Brian was the better deep snapper and we probably played him a little bit more because of his snapping ability,” Alabama all-star coach Terry Curtis of UMS-Wright said. “He may be a year away strength wise, but North Carolina is going to get a good player.”

Lane plays through injury to kick three field goals

It wasn’t enough to earn most valuable player honors but it did put him in the conversation.

Park Crossing kicker and punter Jake Lane tied two Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game records with his kicking on Saturday to lead the home state stars to a 25-14 win over Mississippi at Cramton Bowl.

Lane kicked three field goals, tying the record of four other kickers, most recently McGill-Toolen’s Thomas Hamlin in 2012. His 11 points by kicking – three field goals and two extra points – tied the record held by St. James’ Graham Sutter in 2007, who kicked five extra points and a pair of field goals in a 51-14 rout.

What made Lane’s feat even more remarkable is he tied two records while battling a groin injury that limited his range.

“My leg’s been hurting all week, so I feel like it went way better than I expected,” he said. “I stuck to my form and just did what I do.

“I went out last week after our last playoff game and I guess I didn’t stretch enough.”

After making an extra point, he missed his first attempt, which stayed wide right from 42 yards out, but kicked field goals of 38, 32 and 38 yards, with the third attempt barely reaching the net behind the uprights. He added a late extra point to round out the scoring.

He also punted five times for a 44.8-yard average, the second best for an Alabama punter behind Red Bay kicker Jamie Purser’s 45.0-yard average in 1996 and the fourth best ever in the 30-year series.

Lane, who remains uncommitted as he weighs his collegiate options, hopes his performance might generate another offer or two.

“I hope so,” he said. “You never know.”

Alabama moves lead in series to 23-8

With the win, Alabama increased its advantage in the series and avenged the first loss in the series in eight years a year ago.

Mississippi had ended a seven-game losing streak a year ago. UMS-Wright coach Terry Curtis picked up his second win in the series as the head coach.


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