All-Star Football Recap
MADISON- To officially complete the 2023 high school football season two All-Star games were held with local players taking part in the annual events. The AHSAA North-South Classic and the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Classic were recently held showcasing some of the best players in Alabama.
“The experience was cool as I had the opportunity to play with others I did not know as we got a chance to bond as teammates with complete strangers,” said Ken Cherry, running back from Madison Academy who was chosen to play in the North-South All-Star Classic in Mobile and recent Samford University commit.
The senior Mustang running back, who rushed for 2,836 yards and 44 touchdowns during the 2023 season, was one of two running backs who rushed for over 2,000 yards to be selected for the North squad carried the ball five times for 32 yards in the contest where the South edged the North 31-28. A 33-yard field goal with 25 seconds remaining lifted the South to its second consecutive victory in the 65th annual game held at Hancock Whitney Stadium on the campus of the University of South Alabama. The victory upped the South’s lead to 35-28-2 in the game which began in 1948 and showcases the top talent of senior players from across the state.
“I feel I did decent when I touched the ball as we rotated running backs during the game,” said Cherry, who is listed as the fastest running back in Alabama by one source. “We had two-a-day practices and just three days to learn the offensive playbook that featured about 10 running plays. Away from the football, we went bowling and visited the U.S.S. Alabama Memorial in Mobile.”
The South had 21 first downs and 327 total yards of offense while the North had 18 first downs, 152 yards rushing and 167 yards passing for 319 total yards. The game was that close, but it took a game-winning drive downfield by the South and the 33-yard kick to seal the South’s 35th victory in the series.
“The game-winning kick was the final blow for us on the North team as we just didn’t finish as the game was tied at halftime and we tied the game again in the fourth quarter before the South’s kick,” added Cherry, who is expected to sign his scholarship offer with the Bulldogs in January. “This was my last action as a high school football player. It felt weird. The All-Star experience was great. I belonged there.”
Another grand roster of players from Alabama hit the road to face similar talents from the state of Mississippi in the 37th annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Classic played at M.M. Roberts Stadium on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi. Featured on the Alabama roster of elite players was Reese Baker, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound offensive lineman.
One of the leaders of Madison Academy, which lost in the State Championship Game in Class 3A during the 2023 season, Baker has numerous colleges offers, but has yet to confirm his choice of his college education and where he plans on playing collegiate football. In the All-State matchup, he was among a bevy of superb offensive lineman chosen from throughout the state to represent Alabama in the annual battle of neighboring states.
In the game, Alabama scored 20 points in the first half and went on to a 26-17 victory for its fourth consecutive win in the long-standing game. The victory gives Alabama the lead in the series 26-11 in the classic first played in 1988. Alabama had 384 yards of offense on 58 plays. The breakdown of the offense led by Baker on the line included 310 yards passing and 74 more on the ground.