St. Paul’s Episcopal High School’s Steve Mask has been chosen to serve as head coach of the Alabama football squad for the 34th annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic. The game is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 12, at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl.
“Serving as head coach in the Alabama-Mississippi Classic is a tremendous honor,” said Mask, who will be making his third appearance in the All-Star Classic. “I had the opportunity to be on the staff [with head coach Mark Freeman] in 2015 when the game was played at Hattiesburg and again in 2018 [with head coach Josh Niblett] at Cramton Bowl. Both times the experience was awesome even though we lost both games.
“To be selected to be the head coach in this game is very humbling — a dream come true. I think any high school coach in Alabama would love to have this opportunity to coach the best kids in our state in this game.”
Mask, who has compiled a 187-94 career head-coaching record in 24 seasons, graduated from Muscle Shoals High School in 1974 and the University of North Alabama in 1980. He began his high school coaching career as an assistant football coach and head boys’ basketball coach at Colbert County High School. In just two years, his basketball squad won a regional championship and appeared in the Alabama High School Athletic Association (AHSAA) state tournament once.
After other stops across the state and in Georgia, Mask returned to Mobile as defensive coordinator at St. Paul’s and took over as head football coach in 2012. Since then, the Saints have gone 87-21 in eight seasons, winning three Class 5A state titles (2014, 2015 and 2017). St. Paul’s has owned a 23-5 playoff record and 45-9 region record during that span.
“This is such a special all-star game, which should mean even more to our kids than the national all-star games some of them might get to play in because it features the best against the best from each state,” Mask said. “To be picked as a player in this game is a great source of pride and allows our student-athletes to close out their high school careers together in a game where they are not only representing their schools but representing the entire state of Alabama. What an honor that is. They will remember this experience and the bonds they make with their teammates for the rest of their lives.”
Mask, who will be inducted into the Alabama High School Sports Hall of Fame on Sept. 21, said he and his coaching staff, which will be announced in the coming weeks, have a tremendous task ahead of them. “Our team has lost three in a row,” he said. “Our goal is to go out and end that streak this year. I am looking forward to the challenge.”
“Coach Mask is one of our state’s finest football coaches,” said Jamie Lee, director of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA). “His infectious personality, coupled with his ability to motivate and develop relationships with young people, will provide for an outstanding experience for our all-stars. We are pleased to have him as our head coach.”
The AHSAA and AHSADCA, in conjunction with the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC), administer the all-star game each year.
Last year’s contest at The University of Southern Mississippi’s M.M. Roberts Stadium saw the Mississippi club block Alabama’s extra point try in overtime to preserve a 17-16 victory. It was the third straight setback for Alabama in the series, which got underway in 1988 at Mobile’s Ladd-Peebles Stadium. Alabama leads the series 22-11.
High school honors
Lee has also announced the Girls’ and Boys’ All-Star Teams in tennis and golf for the recently cancelled 2020 AHSAA North-South All-Star Sports Week. The teams, comprised of 2021 rising seniors, were chosen by a coaches’ committee from nominations received from AHSAA member school coaches.
“We are proud to announce these teams even though we are disappointed the all-star competition set for the All-Star Sports Week this summer has been canceled,” Lee said. “However, these players have earned this recognition and will be receiving certificates from the AHSADCA for their selection to these prestigious squads.”
The AHSADCA, which operates under the auspices of the AHSAA, has hosted annual North-South games in football, baseball, softball, volleyball, boys’ and girls’ soccer, boys’ and girls’ basketball, cross country, tennis and golf during the All-Star Week. The games were cancelled earlier this month because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local representatives on these teams include:
* Girls’ Tennis – Grace Garrett, St. Luke’s Episcopal; Whitney Novak, St. Luke’s Episcopal; Tianna Dixon, UMS-Wright; Clara Stokes, St. Paul’s Episcopal; Alyssa Steed, Saraland; Emma Pager, Spanish Fort; Gwenyth Miller, Fairhope; Sophia Regan, McGill-Toolen.
* Boys’ Tennis – Marshall Latture, Fairhope. Rick Cleveland of UMS-Wright is serving as the administrative coach.
* Girls’ Golf – Brooke Rachel, Mobile Christian; Miriam McCoy, Bayside Academy; Hannah Keel, Daphne; Maleah King, Davidson; Elizabeth Gottlieb, McGill-Toolen; Meghan Stein, McGill-Toolen; Hannah Dees, Fairhope.
* Boys’ Golf – Will Middleton, Bayside Academy; Tyler Bjorgum, Gulf Shores; Nathan King, Citronelle.
The AHSADCA plans to release the baseball, softball and boys’ and girls’ soccer all-star teams at a later date.
State Games postponed
The Alabama State Games (ASG), an Olympic-style competition for more than two dozen sports, has been pushed back from its original June 12-14 schedule. The competition will now take place July 31 to August 2 in Dothan.
“We anticipate that the virus risk and essential boundaries will end in time for us all to come together in late summer for the excitement and joy of competition that is indicative of the Alabama State Games,” ASG President Ron Creel said. “Please understand that we are continually updating this site with sports information as it is available and registration will open soon.”
For more details, visit asffoundation.org/alabama-state-games.
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