Starkville's Johnson provides duel threat in Alabama-Mississippi All-Star game

By Gene Phelps/NEMS Daily Journal

MOBILE, Ala. – Starkville’s Jamie Mitchell, who coached in the 2003 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Classic, says the game’s rules force offenses to play it simple.
“You have to have two backs in the backfield at all times,” he said. “There’s no motion. You can’t shift. The rules are set to help defenses. So, that narrows down what you can do.”
For that reason, Mitchell wasn’t surprised to see his quarterback, Jaquez Johnson, selected to the state’s 40-man roster for today’s 1 p.m. game against the Alabama all-stars at Ladd-Peeples Stadium.
Alabama has won eight of the last 10 games in the series.
“They were looking for a dual-threat guy, one who can pass and run,” Mitchell said. “Jaquez fits the bill.”
Johnson completed 74 of 156 passes for 1,271 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. He was 11 of 14 for 176 yards and a score in the Yellowjackets’ season-ending loss to Columbus.
On the ground, he rushed for 707 yards and scored 15 touchdowns. He had 121 yards rushing on 26 attempts and scored three TDs against Columbus.
“The trend in these games is to throw more than you run,” Mitchell said. “The key for the coaches is to figure out what’s best for all the great players.
“Players find out that everybody around them is as good as they are.”
Johnson joins West Jones’ Ben Stevens at quarterback. Justin Cox, who quarterbacked West Point to a second straight 5A state title, is on the roster, but will play in the secondary.
Whoever plays under center will have the services of 6A state champion South Panola’s offensive firepower – wide receiver Nick Brassell, running back Qyen Griffin and slotback/running back/wildcat-formation quarterback Kendrick Market.
The Tigers, ranked No. 1 in the nation, defeated Meridian 28-7 last week in Jackson for the state championship.
Contact Gene Phelps at 678-1593 or gene.phelps@djournal.com.