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This week in HS Sports: Have high-scoring offenses far surpassed defenses in 2022?

This is an opinion piece.

I’ve been asked a couple of times on radio this week about the growing trend of high-scoring high school football games this year.

I decided to do a little research.

Last week alone, 47 statewide teams scored 50 points or more in a game. That includes both Alabama Independent School Association Week 9 games and games in the Alabama High School Athletic Association.

RELATED: Week 10 HS predictions

Here is the breakdown:

50-59 points: 34 teams

60-69 points: 11

More than 70 points: 2 (Colbert County defeated Clements 75-28, Priceville defeated Westminster 72-45)

How does that compare to scoring in previous years? Actually, if we look back at the Week 9 games of 2021, it’s almost identical.

Last year in the same week, 45 teams scored 50 or more points.

Here is the 2021 breakdown:

50-59 points: 32

60-69 points: 11

More than 70 points: 2 (one of which was an out-of-state team).

I do think the scores of both teams combined may be up in 2022 overall.

Is that a sign that offenses have passed defenses, especially in a year when a lot of the state’s top senior prospects are defenders?

“Maybe,” Hall of Fame coach Steve Mask said. “There are a whole lot more footballs in the air than there used to be. I think the spreading of the field and those types of things has a lot to do it with.

“Quite honestly, space has become an issue. There used to be only a few teams that could do it. Now teams find a way to get their best guys in space, and there is a lot of grass to cover. It’s causing a lot of problems. There also may not be as much emphasis on defense as their used to be. Just look at the college game. If you hold someone to 24 points or less, most people think you’ve done a good job. There aren’t a lot of 10-7 games anymore on any level.”

Anthony Eager

McGill-Toolen Anthony Eager returns the ball against Theodore during Friday night’s game. Eager is an alternate on the Alabama-Mississippi roster. (Brad McPherson | preps@al.com)

Where’s the 251?

When the Alabama roster for the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic was released earlier this week, I was struck by the lack of players from the Gulf Coast on the team.

In fact, only one player from Mobile or Baldwin County – an area that consistently produces some of the best football talent in the state – made the roster: Foley wide receiver Harrison Knight.

Judging by emails I’ve received, many of you were surprised as well. After all, the game will be played in Mobile at South Alabama’s Hancock Whitney Stadium on Dec. 10.

We probably shouldn’t be that surprised, truthfully.

If you look at recruiting rankings specifically, this is not the strongest class from the Mobile area. Many of the top recruits in the region – Saraland’s K.J. Lacey and Ryan Williams, Foley’s Perry Thompson, Gulf Shores’ Ronnie Royal, Vigor’s Micah Debose, Mobile Christian’s Sterling Dixon, Baker’s Josh Flowers to name a few – are underclassmen.

Only seniors participate in the Alabama-Mississippi Game.

That said, there are some seniors I would have liked to have seen on the roster like McGill-Toolen WR Anthony Eager, Fairhope QB Caden Creel, Vigor defensive lineman Michael Towner and UMS-Wright RB Cole Blaylock. But, for any of those guys or anyone else in the state who was left off to make it, someone else would have to be omitted.

And, quite frankly, this is an extremely talented roster. Consider:

Quarterbacks: Briarwood Christian’s Christopher Vizzina (Clemson), Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa’s Ethan Crawford (Southern Miss), Hueytown’s Earl Woods (Jacksonville State). Woods was the state’s Mr. Football runner-up a year ago.

Defensive line: Eufaula’s Yhonzae Pierre (Alabama), Carver-Montgomery’s James Smith and Qua Russaw, Gardendale’s Kelby Collins (Florida), Highland Home’s Keldric Faulk (Florida State), Hewitt-Trussville’s Hunter Osborne (Alabama) and Thompson’s Peter Woods (Clemson) among others. This is probably the deepest this position has been in the state in a long, long time.

Running backs: Montgomery Catholic’s Jeremiah Cobb (Auburn), Parker’s Khalifa Keith (Kentucky), Russell County’s Drew Pickett (Wake Forest). Cobb is likely one of the frontrunners this year for Mr. Football.

It’s a deep roster all the way around, and the coaching committee doesn’t have an easy job picking it. There are rules where each region and class have to be represented. Also, coaches must nominate players from their team to be considered.

It’s become a highly competitive game. Yes, it’s an All-Star game and honor to play in it, but it’s easy to see each year how much it means to players and coaches in both Alabama and Mississippi.

The roster usually fluctuates a bit between now and gametime, so it’s likely some players will opt out or get injured and be replaced. Eager is an alternate. Also, the North-South All-Star Game also will be played at Hancock Whitney Stadium on Dec. 16 and that roster could be heavy in Gulf Coast talent when it is released.

The Deuce is loose

On Thursday, Jackson-Olin retired the great David Palmer’s No. 2 jersey.

I never got to see Palmer play in person in high school, but my friends Randy Kennedy and Josh Bean both tell me he was among the best prep football players they ever saw — and they’ve seen a lot of them.

Palmer played quarterback, tailback, wide receiver and defensive back for Jackson-Olin before going on to a sensational career at the University of Alabama. He finished his high school career with 3,373 all-purpose yards and 42 touchdowns. He was the state’s Mr. Football winner in 1990.

He also was one of four players voted to Birmingham’s Mount Rushmore of high school football in an AL.com reader survey in 2019. The others were Bo Jackson, Cornelius Bennett and Tony Nathan.

APT will broadcast Super 7 games

Alabama Public Television announced Thursday that it will broadcast the Super 7 from Auburn’s Jordan-Hare Stadium Nov. 30-Dec. 2.

APT will partner with the Alabama High School Athletic Association and the NFHS Network to provide live statewide coverage of the championships.

“This is an opportunity we’ve been interested in for many years,” said APT’s interim executive director, Phil Hutcheson. “Several other public television stations carry their state’s championship games and they are very popular. Georgia Public Broadcasting has the highest ratings for public television in the country when they present their coverage.”

The Super 7 opens Nov. 30 with the girls flag football championship at 3 p.m. and the Class 7A title game at 7 p.m. Classes 3A (11 a.m.), 1A (3 p.m.) and 5A (7 p.m.) will play on Thursday, Dec. 1. The championships conclude Friday, Dec. 2, with Classes 4A (11 a.m.), 2A (3 p.m.) and 6A (7 p.m.)

As part of the agreement, APT also plans to televise the 2023 AHSAA Basketball State Championships’ 14 state boys’ and girls’ finals.

AHSAA Executive Director Alvin Briggs said this is great news for its member schools and the communities across the state.

“We are excited that APT and the NFHS Network will be partnering to expand the coverage, thus making available our Super 7 state championship games and State Basketball Finals to basically every household in the state thanks to APT’s presence and availability through cable, satellite and antenna TV.”

Thought for the Day

“Everything You said is going to happen even though I haven’t seen it yet.” – Colton Dixon, Build a Boat

80s quote of the week

“What you talkin about, Willis?” – Arnold Jackson, Diff’rent Strokes

Ben Thomas is the high school sportswriter at AL.com. He has been named one of the 50 legends of the Alabama Sports Writers Association. Follow him on twitter at @BenThomasPreps or email him at bthomas@al.com. His weekly column is posted each Wednesday and Friday on AL.com. He can be heard weekly on the Cooper Restaurants “Inside High School Sports” on SportsTalk 99.5 FM in Mobile or on the free IHeart Radio App at 2 p.m. Wednesdays.

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Travis Burnett

Travis Burnett

A pioneer in the flag football community, Travis helped co-found the Flag Football World Championship Tour, FlagSpin and USA Flag. Featuring 15+ years of content creation for the sport of flag football, creating and managing the largest flag football tournaments on the planet, coaching experience at the youth and adult level as well as an active player with National and World Championship level experience.

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