Before the teams even took the field for the 34th annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic, it was clear where the strength of the Alabama team lied. With a handful of Division I commitments including multiple future SEC players on the defensive line, Alabama coach Steve Mask of St. Paul’s had high expectations for the unit and they delivered.
Those linemen were the anchor of a defense that dominated throughout the game, limiting Mississippi to just 133 yards of offense as the Alabama All-Stars rolled to a 19-7 victory. The win marked Alabama’s first in the series since 2016.
“We did what they say couldn’t be done,” Mask said. “We put a team together in four days. They showed how unselfish they were by how they pulled for each other and how they played for each other. This game is all about the players… We’re glad to have that trophy back in Montgomery.”
The defensive line was led by Alabama commit Anquin Barnes of Lee and Auburn commit Lee Hunter of Blount. Stanhope Elmore was also represented in the group as William Whitlow Jr. got a last-minute invite.
Whitlow Jr. finished the day with 32 total snaps under his belt as one of the team’s defensive ends and he finished with three solo tackles and three quarterback hurries. The defense did not allow any points while he was on the field.
“We felt like the defensive line was a strength of our team,” Mask said. “I’m an old school guy so I believe in a great defense and the defense starts up front. If you can control the line of scrimmage, you’re going to have a chance to win… I think we did that. If they had 50 yards rushing, I don’t remember it.”
Whitlow Jr. also saw time as a special teams player, nearly blocking a punt on his first action of the day, and got a few snaps as a blocker in the team’s jumbo package at the goal line. He threw a lead block which led to a touchdown for Armoni Goodwin of Hewitt-Trussville but the play was called back for a holding penalty.
Alabama’s defense got some help on the back end as well as the secondary benefited from the pressure the line got on Mississippi’s quarterbacks. The unit finished with five interceptions including a pair each from Saraland’s Terrente Hinton and Pinson Valley’s Ga’Quincy McKinstry.
McKinstry, an Alabama commit, was used on both sides of the ball and his performance earned him the MVP award for the Alabama team.
“I didn’t want to go home and not use somebody like this,” Mask said. “We weren’t going to put him in the car and send him back to Pinson Valley without using his ability… Alabama is lucky to get a great player and a great young man.”
To go along with his two interceptions, McKinstry added a game-high 76 yards on three receptions. Kentucky commit Christian Lewis of Pleasant Grove scored the game’s lone two offensive touchdowns of the game, both coming off passes from Gardendale’s Will Crowder.