The Alabama High School Athletic Association isn’t budging on this.
As the 27th Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic winded down Saturday, AHSAA executive director Steve Savarese said the association won’t consider having players from AISA schools participate in it.
“We are a member association and we have 414 member high schools,” Savarese said. “So we owe it to those schools. Any school can join the Alabama High School Athletic Association. The schools who are members of our association are the ones the games are for.”
When asked if there will ever be a thought to having players from AISA schools represent the state in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game, Savarese, with no hesitation, said, “No sir.”
The AHSAA needs to reconsider its stance.
If the team is a representation of the state’s best players, then every player in Alabama should be considered and if one is good enough to play, it shouldn’t matter where they went to school.
A year ago, Autauga Academy graduate O.J. Howard was one the country’s top talents, but the current Alabama freshman couldn’t play in the all-star game because he attended an AISA school.
This year, Kingwood’s C’Yontai Lewis has verbally committed to Florida. I say if you’re good enough to go to an SEC school, then you’re good enough to represent your state in an all-star game.
I’m not suggesting the AHSAA take just anybody from an AISA school. Put in a rule that no more than say five AISA players can be on the all-star team. It’s sad that Howard and Lewis couldn’t experience the joy of playing for their state like Demetrius Kemp of Demopolis did Saturday.
“To be able to have your name on this list to have played in this game,” said Kemp, who caught two touchdowns to help Alabama beat Mississippi for a sixth straight year, 21-17. “It’s a big deal to the state. It’s a lot of wins for this state and it represents where great football is played.”
I understand Savarese’s explanation, but having players from AISA schools would add intrigue to the game and spark conversation about AISA and AHSAA schools playing a game against each other.
Maybe I’m asking for too much huh?
Anyway, here are some of my other observations from Saturday.
The Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic had a person in each end zone watching to see if each team were in the right formations based on the rules for the game. The monitors came out as far as the 20-yard line to keep track of the formations, but as the saying goes, boys will be boys.
“I think basically they were following them, but at times, they were trying to get out of it,” Wetumpka senior center Christian Williams said. “They were trying to shift out of it. It was funny because the D-line, after they did it, they would be like, ‘We got ya’ll didn’t we?’ I was like, ‘Chill out. You got to stop that.'”
Williams also said each team was able to have two scouts at the practices of the opponent. No wonder the game didn’t have but four offensive touchdowns.
“When you’re learning terminology, you have to say it out loud,” Williams said. “The scouts are in the stands and they hear it. So when we ran “Oregon,” everyone knows Oregon is known for their option so when we started stretching, they started calling “Oregon, Oregon.”
Better than expected
Auburn commit Tre’ Williams said he and his uncle has had a little fun with Auburn coach Gus Malzahn about the preseason expectations for the Tigers this season.
“My uncle and I were talking to coach Malzahn one night and my uncle was like, ‘Hey, what happened to just winning six games and just going to a bowl game,’ ” said a smiling Williams, who attends Saint Paul’s. “Coach Malzahn was like, ‘Hey, I lied.'”
Williams, who had a game-high 12 tackles with 10 being solo stops for the Alabama All-Stars Saturday, expects Auburn to beat top-ranked Florida State in the national title game Jan. 6 in Pasadena, Calif.
“No one can stop their offense, and their defense is going to come together like they have every other game,” Williams said.
Ole Miss is getting two of the best players in Saturday’s game in tight end Sammie Epps of Greenwood and receiver Markell Pack of Purvis.
The two combined for 10 catches and 212 yards in the game as Epps caught a touchdown for the Mississippi All-Stars.
“It could be scary,” Epps said. “You never know what kind of plays we’ll make.”
It’s UCLA – for now
Auburn High standout Rashaan Evans said he goes back and forth on which college has the edge to snag him. Right now, he’s leaning toward UCLA.
“It changes every week,” said Evans, who was Alabama’s MVP after making eight tackles and returning an interception off a pass he tipped in the air for a touchdown that tied the game at 14-14.
“It’s hard to say. The big thing is getting across to my mom. The key is my mom and my dad. If they can get her on board, I’m definitely going to that school.”
Williams is doing all he can to get him to join him at Auburn.
“No doubt,” Williams said. “You see the way he plays defense. He’s a great player. We should have him at Auburn.”
(Duane Rankin an Advertiser sports columnist, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @DuaneRankin).