With the exception of one state champion in each classification, the unfortunate part of the high school football playoffs is every other team ending their seasons with a loss.
But this week, it doesn’t have to be that way for the 12 local players representing the south at the 70th annual Bernard Blackwell All-Star Game.
Tonight, that Gulf Coast dozen took part in the opening practice at Harrison Central, the first of five sessions, leading up to Saturday’s North-South Classic.
Last year’s game was the first shutout in the series for the first time in 17 years with the South coming up short, 13-0.
But, win or lose, this week’s experience will be the final push for college recruitment ahead of the early division I signing period later this month. Ocean Springs running back Micah Kelly said, “Really that I can compete with the best of the best, that’s what I feel like I need to prove. And just do the same thing I’ve been doing the whole season. We’re surrounded with great football players and everybody is coached very well, so how you compete against those people is how you really show how good you are of a player. It feels good cause we made the first round but we wanted to do more than that, so it feels good to have another game.”
At last check, Kelly had 13 collegiate offers to his name. The north side will be holding up at West Harrison leading up to Saturday’s 11:30 a.m. kickoff at Gulfport’s Milner Stadium.
Here’s a list of all 12 local standouts on this year’s squad:
- Ocean Springs DL Evan Hill
- Ocean Springs RB Micah Kelly
- Martin OL Brandon Cunningham
- Martin RB Jo’Vawn ‘Ham’ McGe OL Brandon Cunningham
- Hancock ILB Trenton Ladner
- Hancock WR Brooks Rayburn
- Gulfport QB T.Q. Newsome
- Biloxi DB Jordan Montgomery
- D’Iberville OL Louis Paul Smith
- Harrison Central OL Shunmikel ‘Wes’ Carter
- Pascagoula DL Jarid Johnson
- Poplarville OLB Ross Barnett