LYMAN, MS (WLOX) - Football season on the Coast isn’t over just yet as local phenoms put the pads on one more time before moving on to the collegiate ranks.
“It’s a great honor, not only to represent the great city of Gulfport, but to also be blessed enough to play with some of the best talent across the state,” Gulfport quarterback and Southern Miss commit T.Q. Newsome said.
“During the season everybody’s competing with each other, trying to be better," Biloxi defensive back Jordan Montgomery said. "Now here we come together, just trying to beat the North. It’s a really cool experience.”
The 70th annual Bernard Blackwell All-Star Classic once again brings some of the finest talent South Mississippi has to offer. Twelve athletes from the Coast made this year’s South roster, including Newsome and Montgomery, St. Martin running back Hamm McGee and offensive lineman Brandon Cunningham, D’Iberville offensive lineman and Southern Miss commit Louis Paul Smith, Ocean Springs running back Micah Kelly and defensive lineman Evan Hill, Hancock linebacker Trenton Ladner and wide receiver Brooks Rayburn, Pascagoula defensive lineman Jarid Johnson, Harrison Central offensive lineman Wes Carter and Poplarville linebacker Ross Barnett. Poplarville head coach Jay Beech is also an assistant on the South staff.
The local products will have plenty to play for, especially after last year’s 13-0 shutout to the North team. Thursday’s practice at Harrison Central was filled with plenty of laughter, bonding and game planning, but it has to feel awkward teaming up with crosstown rivals, right?
“No, it’s not, because we became very good brothers and this is now my dude," Cunningham said in reference to his former rival, Newsome. "He’s a great guy, I always knew he was a great guy, and he’s going to continue being a great guy at USM.”
Saturday isn’t just about the All-Star Classic, but also who college football’s next Heisman Trophy recipient will be. We asked a few of the high school all-stars for their take on this year’s trio of quarterback candidates.
"It’s got to be Kyler Murray (for) what he’s doing with the worst defense,” Montgomery said.
“I’m an Alabama guy, but I think Kyler Murray," Newsome said. "I think he’s got to get it because he’s the most explosive player.”
“Number seven from... what’s his school? Oklahoma?” Cunningham asked.
There may have been a small mix-up on guessing the Heisman candidates, but there will be no confusion this Saturday as the goal is simple: getting a victory over the North in Milner Stadium, while also cherishing the final game of their high school careers.
Kick off from Milner Stadium set for Saturday at 11:30 a.m.