Tide’s Luther in all-star game

Published 2:05 am Sunday, July 13, 2008

Picayune center Ben Luther will bring an end to his prep career along with getting a start on his collegiate football future this week.

Luther will be the only Pearl River County player participating in the annual Bernard Blackwell All-Star Football classic, which each year pits the best out-going senior players from the state that weren’t picked for the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Classic against one another in the summer affair in a South vs. North format.

The game kicks off at 7 p.m., Thursday night at Robinson-Hale Stadium on the campus of Mississippi College.

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Luther, a 5-foot-11, 270-pound standout, started for two years for the Maroon Tide of head coach Dodd Lee. He signed a scholarship with head coach Tim Hatten’s Pearl River Community College squad and is expected to battle for playing time this Fall.

“He is certainly deserving of this honor,” Lee said, of Luther. “He is one of the most improved players from his eighth grade year to his senior season that we have ever had at Picayune. He works very hard and is a very dedicated football player. This will be a perfect way for him to leave his high school career and begin to get ready for his college play.”

Luther’s teammate Drew Cole was also selected for the contest, but the Auburn signee is already on the plains in summer school and had to withdraw from the contest.

“It’s an honor for both of them to be picked,” Lee added. “It also shows how much they meant to the success we have had as a team over the past few years.”

Luther and Cole, along with Albert Richard who played in the Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Classic in December, were part of one of the most successful Maroon Tide senior classes ever as the group paced Picayune to consecutive 11 win seasons for the first time in over two decades.

This week’s game is the highlight of the annual Mississippi Association of Coaches annual coaching clinic, which begins Monday.

The game, formerly known as the Mississippi High School All-Star Football Classic, was was renamed after Coach Bernard Blackwell, late director of the Miss. Coaches’ Association, in 1994.

Over the years, the series has been extremely competitive, with the South holding a slim 26-24-4 series advantage over the 59-year history of the event.

Last season, the South won an exciting 21-13 come from behind win as Poplarville’s Ike Bowden and Picayune’s Justin Griffith were part of the winning team and former Poplarville head coach Lance Mancuso was a member of the coaching staff.

The North narrowly defeated the South 14-7 two years ago to close the series gap a little.