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By DANNY P. SMITH
D.J. Jordan's philosophy as a linebacker is finding the football and making sure he's in position to make a play.
That's what has helped him become one of the valuable members of the Starkville High School defense.
"I want to be where the ball is," Jordan said. "I want (to tackle) the guy whoever has the football. I read my keys and my keys take me to the ball. I use my speed, get to the ball and bring them down."
Jordan's play for the Yellowjackets landed him a spot on the North roster of the 62nd Bernard Blackwell All-Star Football Classic, which takes place Saturday at Greyhound Stadium in Ocean Springs. Kickoff is set for noon and will be televised locally by WCBI.
"It caught me off-guard because coach (Jamie Mitchell) pulled me in and made it seem like I was in trouble or something, then he told me and it shocked me," Jordan said about learning he made the all-star team. "I was like 'wow.' I was guessing I had a pretty good senior year and more than I thought I did. I was shocked and blessed. I thank the Lord that I made it."
SHS linebackers coach Tate Fischer said Jordan was a player he could count on to be ready week in and week out.
"He handled his business in the class room and hopefully that's going to pay off for him," Fischer said. "I hate to lose a caliber of kid like D.J. because his character is so great. He's like one of my own and that's the way I've always looked at D.J."
Jordan, who finished with approximately 90 tackles for the Jackets last season, reported for the Bernard Blackwell game on Wednesday and prior to that he had been working out, lifting weights and running.
"I'd concentrate on lower body one day and upper body the next," Jordan said. "I've been doing footwork every day and a little bit of running mixed in with that. I did a couple of sprints, did a jog a day and the next day I did bleachers."
Also participating in the game from the Starkville Daily News coverage area are offensive lineman Hunter Cunningham from East Webster and defensive lineman Bobby Hill from Eupora.
Cunningham led the Wolverines to a 12-1 record and all the way to the third round of the Class 2A playoffs.
"Hunter is a big guy who has come along well since 8th grade and made a lot of improvements," East Webster coach Jimmy Carden said. "He works hard and does what you ask him to do. He's worked on his fee and strength.
"He'll do a good job there when he goes to play. I think he'll turn some heads."
Cunningham has been protected by Holmes Community College, but Carden said he has "flown under the radar" as far as being noticed by other programs.
Hill was the leading tackler for the Eagles with 95 and played on both sides of the football for coach Junior Graham
"We're really going to miss him," Graham said. "He'll have a chance to do well in this game. They've opened up the rules and it's a wide-open game now with fewer restrictions so he'll get the opportunity to display his pass rushing skills and I'm excited about that."
The game features a North-South format and the South leads the series 28-25-4. Current Mississippi State quarterback Dylan Favre led the South to a 24-17 victory in Gulfport last season. Favre was the South Most Valuable Player.
General admission tickets will be available at the gate for $5 per person and all seats are general admission.
The Classic is formerly known as the Mississippi High School All-Star Football Game and was originated in 1950 by Mississippi State coach Arthur "Slick" Morton. The Mississippi Association of Coaches assumed sponsorship of the game from the Jackson Touchdown Club in 1993. The next year, the game was renamed for coach Bernard Blackwell, the late executive director of the MAC.