HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Oak Grove quarterback John Rhys Plumlee, paused for a moment before giving probably as honest an answer as one could offer when asked what he expected from the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game.
“I really don’t know,” Plumlee said with a smile. “I’ve never played in one.
“But, I’m looking forward to it.”
Which just about echoed the sentiment of the Pine Belt’s other seven high school seniors who will join Plumlee on the Mississippi roster, practice for a week or so and then square off against many of the best seniors in Alabama.
“I was excited about being selected,” West Jones defensive lineman Byron Young said. “It’s been a dream of mine to play in this game.”
That dream comes true at 6:30 p.m. Monday, when the state’s high school all-star teams meet for the 32nd time in a rivalry that Alabama leads 22-9.
The game returns to the Cramton Bowl after being played for the first time on Mississippi soil in 2018. Mississippi routed Alabama 42-7 at M.M. Roberts Stadium on the University of Southern Mississippi campus.
Jaren Handy, one of three Hattiesburg High School players selected for the game, said the Mississippi squad has the talent to win for third time in the past four years.
“I’m pretty confident,” Handy said. “We’ve got a lot of good players in this state, and depending on the game plan, depending on how we practice, we should be good to go.”
Handy will be joined by his defensive comrade, defensive back Hakeem Vance, as well as HHS quarterback Jarod Conner, who will shift to running back for the all-star game.
The trio, which is the maximum any one high school can have on the roster, will be joined by Plumlee, Young, Sumrall High School receiver Dannis Jackson, Seminary High School defensive lineman Nathan Pickering and Laurel High School offensive tackle Charles Cross.
Hattiesburg football coach Tony Vance will handle the Mississippi’s offense, and two other Pine Belt coaches, Todd Mangum of Wayne Academy and Kenny Robinson of Mize High School, acted as administrative coaches.
Two USM commitments, East Central High School linebacker Avery White and Brookhaven High School center Coker Wright, also will play for Mississippi.
Monday night’s game can be seen on WDAM Bounce, channel 7.3.