Dominant South Tops NorthPublished 12:01am Saturday, July 26, 2014
MONTGOMERY — Light gleamed off of Montel Lee’s braces as the linebacker smiled wide when he accepted the Most Valuable Player award at the conclusion of the 2014 AHSAA North-South All-Star Football Game Thursday night at the Cramton Bowl.
Lee recorded 12 tackles (7 solo, 5 assists), one sack for a loss and made two key defensive plays late in the fourth to help guide the South All-Stars to a 20-12 victory over the North on a hot and humid night in the capital city.
“It felt great,” the former Andalusia standout said about receiving the MVP award. “I didn’t want to let (AHS head football) coach (Brian) Seymore down, but I know just to come out here and have fun and play ball with these boys.”
Even before Lee was named as the MVP, his South teammates were chanting his name, hoping that he’d get it.
The North got within striking distance with less than three minutes to go in the fourth period, but Lee with his agility at moving from end to end helped put a stop to the drive as he got a sack on third down.
The North tried to go for it on fourth down about 10 or so yards from the end zone, but the ball sailed out of reach of the receiver’s hands.
South and Straughn head football coach Trent Taylor said those two stops helped seal the deal for his squad, added that the team as a whole played with a lot of character.
“That was a very humble, very classy group of young men,” Taylor, who is now 2-0 as a head coach at the Cramton Bowl, said. “That was evident all week long by the way they conducted themselves in the dorm and in the cafeteria. I think that showed. That won out in the end.”
The South squad took a 14-0 lead early in the first quarter off of two North turnovers.
South quarterback Bryant Horn of Benjamin Russell completed a 62-yard double-reverse pass to Jestaro Reynolds of Northview to put the good guys up 7-0 with 9:35 left in the first.
The second touchdown of the game came less than two minutes later when Zack Morgan of Daphne hit Damian Mitchell of Maplesville on a 28-yard strike with 7:36 to go in the first.
The North got on the board with around 4:44 left in the opening period when Exavyer Jackson of Piedmont sacked Horn in the end zone for a safety.
In the second quarter, John Baxter nailed a 26-yard field goal with 3:32 left in the first half for a 17-2 advantage.
The North scored its only touchdown of the game when Darryl Swanigan rushed in from 4 yards with 49 ticks left in the second quarter.
By the start of the third period, the South squad wanted to eat up clock so they gave the ball to Straughn’s Devin Scott, who finished the game 23 yards on 10 carries.
Scott, whose longest gain was 11 yards in the second quarter, put the ball in good position for Baxter, who then kicked a 50-yard field goal with 9:11 left in the third.
Oneonta’s Tyler Short kicked a 30-yard field goal with 10:56 left in the contest for the North.
Andalusia’s Michael McCalman, who played more on special teams during the game, squeaked out three assists for tackles.
Straughn’s Conner Livings and Dalton Watson managed the offensive line well throughout the game, especially late in the contest to give their quarterback and running backs room to run.
Taylor said a lot of the credit for the win goes to the South’s coaching staff.
“Firs of all, there were six great coaches on the team,” Taylor said. “To have the opportunity to pick these guys, you know, I knew their character already. Then, after that, I think they did a great job of picking the team.”
The early turnovers were big for the South, Taylor said.
“All-Star games go either one of two ways — either no defense can stop the other’s offense or both teams are playing great defense — both teams did,” he said. “We had the trick play that was huge early in the game and the turnovers were huge.”
Lee is headed Ferrum College in Virginia to continue his football-playing career. He said it was good to go out of high school play on top.
“It was nice to spend time with Mike and those Straughn boys,” he said.