After just two days of practice, the South All-Stars have installed 20 offensive plays for the 17th Annual Alabama All-Star Sports Week North-South football game at 7 p.m. Thursday at Cramton Bowl, and they’re not done yet.
St. James coach Jimmy Perry, serving as the offensive line coach, said he hopes to have all the plays installed by Monday evening so the rest of the week can be used to build chemistry.
“You’ve got 37 guys from probably 32 different teams with different terminologies,” Perry said. “Everybody basically runs the same stuff, but you’ve have to change the vernacular a little bit. You’ve got to make the play calls simple, they can’t be long, they can’t be elaborate, everything has to be condensed, fairly simple, where we can pick it up.
“The next thing you’ve got to do is you’ve got to get enough reps in to get some cohesion on offense. It’s guys that’ve never worked with each other, ‘I don’t know how this guy is going to handle this block,” I’ve just got to learn how I fit in my run fits and my pass protections.’ So, you’ve got to get a lot of reps to learn that in four days.”
Coaching cohesion: While Perry and the South offense work to build chemistry on the field, that will not be a problem on the sidelines.
Perry has previous coaching relationships with coaches Smitty Grider (Beauregard), Tom Pinkston (Highland Home), Ben Blackmon (Gulf Shores) and Steve Mask (St. Paul’s), one of the main reasons he decided to coach in the All-Star game.
“Here’s the thing, they’ve got me and Steve Mask, he’s in charge of the defense and I’m in charge of the offense. We’ve been friends a long time, he was my defensive coordinator at St. Paul’s when I was the head coach. Ben Blackmon, who’s coaching our wide receivers and quarterbacks, was my quarterback at Robert E. Lee. Tom Pinkston used to be my running backs coach at Robert E Lee and we’ve coached together for years. I’ve known Smitty his whole coaching career.
“I remember when he was just a cub coach in junior high school. And of course Billy Gresham is a fine, upstanding young man at Carver and a pleasure to work with. I can see why Carver is so good because of the way he coaches and his knowledge of the game and the intensity he brings. When they asked me to do this, I wanted to know who was coaching. And when they told me who was going to be coaching, I said’ I’m in,’ because it’s fun to work with these type guys. Number one they care for the kids, and they’re good people.”
Expect some action in the end zone: With the limited practice time and restrictions from the AHSAA, the All-Star defenses my seem a little basic. Well, that’s because the teams are limited to just two different defensive plays.
While all in good fun, defensive-minded G.W. Carver coach Billy Gresham said seeing so many points on the board might sting a little.
“Defensively we can only run two coverages – Cover 3 and man free – so it’s pretty simple on defense,” Gresham said. “All star games are to sell tickets and get people in the stands so they want a lot of offense. Yea, it will (hurt to see a bunch of touchdowns), but we just want them to give a lot of effort, and if the opportunity’s there we’ve just got to make plays.”
Familiar faces: Five Montgomery-area stars were selected to represent the South squad on Thursday. A pair of Carver standouts, defensive back Timothy Graves and defensive lineman Daniel McCall, will get one more game on their home field, along with Robert E. Lee offensive lineman Marquele Benjamin.
Alabama A&M signee Austin Simmons from Alabama Christian will join Benjamin on the offensive line and Troy signee Taylor Driggers will represent the Class 1A champion Brantley Bulldogs at defensive end.