CLINTON – An’Darius Coffey has been sensational for Winona at quarterback this year. But he was chosen for the Mississippi-Alabama Football All-Star Game as a defensive back, the position he is expected to play at the next level.
Coffey was named to the 40-member team during a press conference at the Mississippi High School Activities Association office last week. Rosters for the Bernard Blackwell North-South All Star Football Classic were also announced. Players for both teams were chosen from nominated players after coaches spent many hours watching game films.
Coffey is committed to Ole Miss as a defensive back, the position he played for the Tigers as a sophomore before moving to quarterback last year.
“I just want to play football. I don’t care what position I play,” he said, while describing his selection to the team as “a blessing.”
Coffey has shown significant improvement as a passer this year. He connected on just under half his passes last year (91 of 188). Through six games this year, he is 75 of 98 (76.5 percent) for 1,271 yards, 15 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also has carried 107 times for 798 yards and 10 TDs.
Despite only playing offense this year, he was chosen as one of Mississippi’s seven defensive backs due to his athleticism. Velma Jackson coach Quenton Euell, who will coach the defensive backs, said he will have “the best athletes on the field.”
The Mississippi team includes four players from Olive Branch, which was runner-up to West Point for the 5A championship last year, as well as the state’s five highest rated recruits. They are, in order, defensive tackle McKennley Jackson of George County, defensive tackle Josaih Hayes of defending 6A champion Horn Lake, wide receiver Lideatrick Griffin of Philadelphia, running back Jeremiah Pegues of Oxford, and defensive back Emmanuel Forbes of Grenada.
The quarterbacks are Will Rogers of Brandon, who has passed for 1,239 yards and 11 touchdowns, and Jimmy Holiday of top-ranked Madison Central, who has passed for 529 yards and six touchdowns and run for 661 yards and 10 TDs.
Union coach Brad Breland is the head coach for the Mississippi team. “I'm really excited,” he said. “We (coaching staff) went out and tried to get the best 40 players in the state of Mississippi at this time, and I feel like we have kids who play hard. They are good kids with good character. Those are the properties we were looking for.”
Assistant coaches are Tyler Peterson of Brandon, offensive coordinator; Tim Shramek of Germantown, defensive coordinator; Patrick Schoolar of Neshoba Central, offensive line; Anthony Dillon of North Forrest, linebackers; Chris Cutliff of Oxford, wide receivers; Joey Tompkins of Winona, defensive line; and Euell. Derrick Hooker of South Delta is the scout coach.
The 33rd Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game will be played Saturday Dec. 14 at the University of Southern Mississippi's M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg, with kickoff at noon. The game will be televised by Mississippi Public Broadcasting stations.
Alabama holds a 22-10 lead in the series, but Mississippi has won the last two, three of the last four and the only two previous games played in the Magnolia State.
The team will have seven practice sessions. “We will go down there on Monday (December 9) and begin practicing Tuesday morning,” Breland said. “We will practice twice Tuesday, twice Wednesday, twice Thursday and once Friday, then we will play Saturday.”
“It will be a fun game and a fun experience,” Schoolar said.
The North-South game will be played one week later at Joseph Milner Stadium in Gulfport with an 11:30 a.m. kickoff. Head coaches are Clifton Gatewood of Greenwood for the North and Tony Vance of Hattiesburg for the South.
It's the 71st game, but the 67th with the North-South format. From 1989 to 1992 the game pitted 4A and 5A schools against 1A, 2A and 3A schools.
Head coaches are Tony Vance of Hattiesburg for the South and Clinton Gatewood of Greenwood for the North.
The South holds a 33-28 lead in the series with five ties. One of those ties was last year, 0-0 in heavy rain. The North-South game will also be televised by MPB.