All-Star opportunity gives area players one more game

Staff Writer

For many of the teams in the area, football season ended for the high school seniors over six months ago.

This past week, however, provided many of them one final chance to play the sport.

The sixth annual Northeast Mississippi Football Coaches Association All-Star game afforded those players that opportunity and the area was well-represented. Choctaw County’s Ben Ashley coached the West team with Charger assistants Burt Ashley and Jim Wood, East Webster’s Jason Smith and Eupora’s Eric Marshall.

“It was a lot of fun,” Ashley said of the game. “You look out there and you have 40 starters. Everybody can play. It was unique because we implemented the Wing T system in an all-star game, but they adapted.”
It was an honor for Ashley to get a chance to coach the West team but he wasn’t sure initially if he was going to coach in the game. The difference was his players.

Ashley brought along with him Jalen Esters, Isaiah Hannah, Cameron Miller and Tanner Threadgill. The memory of senior Moe Hardin was also honored in the game as a part of the roster after he passed away earlier this year.
“They asked me to coach that game and I really didn’t want to do it because we would be going through spring and finishing up school,” Ashley said. “I had four seniors that really wanted to play football and  a couple of those guys didn’t have opportunities so I was going to do it for them.”

Ultimately, Ashley and the West team scored a 26-0 win with limited time in the Wing-T and the local products are a big reason why. In fact, Eupora’s Tanner Knight was selected the West Offensive Player of the Game after he threw a 34-yard touchdown and ran for another.

Knight is set for baseball on the next level, but Ashley really liked the way that he handled his final football game.

“He’s really smart and he can make throws,” Ashley said of Knight. “We didn’t throw it a lot because we’re in the Wing T, but we had some great receivers and three quarterbacks. It just so happened that Tanner made some big plays.”

Along with Knight from Eupora was Ash and Al Dumas. Their Webster county brethren at East Webster also had three athletes in the game with Dawson Keller, Cole Morgan and Isaac Patterson.

“Isaac Patterson really kick-started us,” Ashley said. “The offense wasn’t going well early and he got a pick six. From there, everything started to really fall into place.”