Seven from area in Alabama/Mississippi Classic
By By Marty Stamper/The Meridian Star
June 15, 2001
Five football players and two coaches from The Meridian Star's coverage area will be trying to lead Mississippi to a win over Alabama in the 14th-annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic Saturday night in Mobile, Ala.
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. The game will be televised on Fox Sports Net.
Alabama holds an 8-5 lead in the series following last year's 16-9 win.
Participants chosen from Meridian are defensive lineman Jeremy Ruffin (6-3, 195) and wide receiver Mario Hill (6-1, 195). Philadelphia has three representatives, running back Marquez Dupree (6-0, 205), defensive back Keith Houston (6-4, 210), and coach Steve Cheatham.
Selected from Louisville is defensive back Bryant Thomas (6-2, 190).
Newton County coach Jeff Breland, The Meridian Star's Coach of the Year for 2000, completes the area participants.
Head coach of the Mississippi team is Madison Central's Mike Justice.
Ruffin had 313 career tackles and 39 quarterback sacks during his career with the Wildcats. He turned in 101 tackles as a senior, 90 of which were solo stops. He also had 13 sacks and three interceptions in 2000 as Meridian went 9-3 and reached the first round of the Class 5A state playoffs.
Ruffin was an all-state selection as was Hill.
While Hill was chosen as a wide receiver, he can also play cornerback, Sartin said of the Ole Miss signee.
Ruffin and Hill were 23-13 with three playoff appearances in their careers at Meridian.
Dupree rushed for 1,307 yards and scored 17 touchdowns as a senior at Philadelphia. He gained 890 yards rushing and scored 13 touchdowns in an injury-hampered junior year. He has signed with the University of Alabama.
Houston will attend Ole Miss this fall, but still needs the ACT score to be eligible in 2001.
Thomas had 1,260 yards passing and 20 touchdowns as a senior at Louisville and was a second-team all-state pick.
Cheatham says the week leading up to the game has been much like when he was a graduate assistant at Clemson and the Tigers went bowling.
Cheatham will be defensive coordinator and coaching the secondary.
Mike Justice of Madison Central is the head coach. Cheatham and Justice were division rivals when Cheatham was an assistant at Neshoba Central and Justice was at Louisville.
Breland has gone 21-4 in two seasons as head coach at Newton County. The Cougars made the Class 3A state playoffs both years, reaching the South State championship game in 2000.
Marty Stamper is a sports writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at email@example.com.
Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Classic
June 16, Mobile, Ala.
Area Players Pos. High School
Marquez Dupree RB Philadelphia
Mario Hill WR Meridian
Keith Houston DB Philadelphia
Jeremy Ruffin DL Meridian
Bryant Thomas DB Louisville
Jeff Breland Newton County
Steve Cheatham Philadelphia