Story by AHSAA Staff
HATTIESBURG (MS) – Alabama All-Star head football coach Adrian Abrams served as assistant coach in the 2019 Alabama-Mississippi Football All-Star Classic.
“That experience has been invaluable for me this week,” he said. “Anyone who is fortunate enough to serve as head coach in this game needs to serve as an assistant coach first.”
Abrams and his coaching staff completed practice sessions four and five Thursday and have one left Friday morning.
“I am amazed at just how well our kids are beginning to come together,” he said.
The 35th Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic pitting 40 of the top senior high schoolers from each state will kick off Saturday at M.M. Roberts Stadium on the University of Southern Mississippi campus at noon. Abrams said his team is really looking forward to the challenge.
“Our offense took some big steps (Thursday). A big reason is the football IQ’s of our quarterbacks Zach Pyron of Pinson Valley and Bennett Meredith of Hoover,” he said. “I coached against Pinson Valley and saw first-hand Pyron’s knack for running a team for head coachSam Shade, a former standout defensive back at Alabama and in the NFL and a member of the Alabama All-str staff. It is one thing to play against a kid and see his talent and then have a chance to coach him and see why he is the player that he is. I didn’t understand completely just how smart he is when it comes to reading defensive schemes.
“He has a really high football IQ, understands defenses and how they work where the holes are. In this game, with the limitations placed on the defenses, which will be especially important for us.”
Abrams said he had a little more insight to Hoover’s program, where he served as assistant head coach prior to taking the head-coaching job at Minor.
“I coached at Hoover and I know what Bennett Meredith has been taught in Coach Josh Niblett’s program. Both have been exposed to excellent coaching. They are both very cerebral.”
Abrams, who played collegiately at UAB and also served as assistant head coach at Hoover before becoming the head coach at Minor, said his approach to football while he was high school at Theodore was “more like a dog chasing a frisbee. I just knew that you got after the ball, wherever it went.”
He said Alabama’s all-star quarterbacks are extremely comfortable at making adjustments. That leadership on the field is having a positive impact on the entire team.
“The receivers love how our quarterbacks can make adjustments so quickly,” he said.
It is helping guys like Kobe Prentice of Montevallo, De’Andre Coleman of Hueytown, Jarell Williams of Saraland and the rest of the skill players get more ready for the next level, he said. “I really saw a difference in everyone’s level of play (Thursday).”
Abrams is also excited about the offensive line.
“Our offensive line is really jelling well. It is a group of kids who play surprisingly fast. They are playing as unit and for their size, are going to be able to give us an opportunity to hopefully run more plays.”
The offensive line includes Auburn’s Eston Harris (6-foot-5, 295) and Drew Bobo (6-5, 290), Northridge’s Kenton Jerido (6-3, 280), James Clemens’ Edgerrin Watson (6-2, 280), Daphne’s Jacob Galmiche (6-2, 290), Pelham’s Caleb Newell (6-3, 315), Pleasant Grove’s Anez Cooper (6-6, 360), and St. Paul’s Episcopal’s Lucas Taylor (6-4, 315).
On defense, Abrams said Montgomery Catholic linebackers T.J. Dudley, Powell Gordon (Auburn), Justin Finkley (Hewitt-Trussville) and Timothy Spurlock (Madison Academy) are dynamic. Collectively they are also at another level.”
As for Mississippi, he admits the host team has a big size advantage.
“We are concentration of what Alabama can do,” he said. “We play a hard-nosed brand of football, and we are going to play hard and fast, and we will be ready on Saturday.”
The Alabama All-Stars will conduct its last practice at Hattiesburg High School Friday morning and then take some time off to participate in a community service project with Mississippi’s All-Stars.
The two teams will attend a banquet attended by family members Friday night.
Saturday’s schedule starts early with both teams attending an FCA breakfast at the stadium, followed by a meet-and-greet on the field with family members following at 9 a.m.
Alabama holds a 23-11 edge in the series with a 19-7 win last year at Cramton Bowl.
Saturday’s game will be broadcast live by the AHSAA Radio Network and the AHSAA TV Network. The game will also be live-streamed over the NFHS Network.
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