Saraland’s Kelly selected as Team Alabama head coach ahead of 2024 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Classic

Alabamian All-Stars will be searching for fifth straight win at Mobile’s Hancock Whitney Stadium

GCM Staff Report
Posted 3/21/24

MONTGOMERY — Saraland High School head football coach Jeff Kelly has been selected to serve as head coach for the Alabama All-Star football squad for the 38th annual Alabama-Mississippi …

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Saraland’s Kelly selected as Team Alabama head coach ahead of 2024 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Classic

Alabamian All-Stars will be searching for fifth straight win at Mobile’s Hancock Whitney Stadium


MONTGOMERY — Saraland High School head football coach Jeff Kelly has been selected to serve as head coach for the Alabama All-Star football squad for the 38th annual Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic to be played in December at Mobile’s Hancock Whitney Stadium on the campus of the University of South Alabama.

Kelly, entering his 14th season as the Spartans’ head man and a standout player from Citronelle, served as offensive coordinator in Alabama’s 26-17 win last year and helped earn a 17-14 win with a touchdown pass as quarterback of the 1996 Alabama-Mississippi Classic. With a 2-0 record in his two previous roles already, Kelly may well be the first person from Alabama to serve as a player, assistant coach and head coach in the annual game.

The 9-point win for Alabama’s All-Stars last December upped their lead in the series to 26 wins and 11 losses. The victory was the 4th in a row for Team Alabama, coached by former Spanish Fort and current Enterprise head coach Ben Blackmon.

Full staff revealed

Brandon Dean, Director of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors & Coaches Association (AHSADCA) made the full coaching staff announcement on Wednesday, March 20.

The staff includes Fyffe High School coach Paul Benefield, who finished his 32nd season last year by winning his 7th state title in the Alabama High School Athletic Association. He owns a 351-56 coaching record, which ranks 3rd all-time in wins and 1st in winning percentage. He will serve as the All-Star staff’s defensive line coach.

Either side of the ball will be led by McGill-Toolen head coach David Faulkner, who will serve as offensive coordinator and Montgomery Catholic head coach Kirk Johnson, who will serve as defensive coordinator.

Leroy head coach Jeff Massey was named the linebackers coach, Hoover head coach Drew Gilmer will be the defensive backs coach, Hillcrest-Tuscaloosa head coach Jamie Mitchell was selected as the all-stars’ offensive line coach, Eufaula head coach Jerrel Jernigan will coach the wide receivers and Matt Dearmon, from Kelly’s Saraland staff, will be the Alabama All-Star scout coach.

More on Kelly

“Coach Kelly has proven to be one of the AHSAA’s finest head coaches,” Dean said. “And he has put together an outstanding all-star coaching staff as well that includes four coaches that won state titles last season, two coaches who played in the Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Game and one coach who has 351 career coaching wins to his credit.”

Ironically, it was Kelly’s standout wide receiver and two-time Mr. Football recipient Ryan Williams who earned MVP honors in last December’s All-Star game. He had 8 receptions for 92 yards and 2 touchdowns offensively as well as 2 punt returns for 21 yards in the 37th Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Classic played on Carlisle-Faulkner Field at the University of Southern Mississippi’s M.M Roberts Stadium. Kelly served as the Alabama All-Star’s offensive coordinator in the game.

“I played in the Alabama-Mississippi Game as a player, I coached last year as an assistant coach, and it is a very huge honor to be the head coach in this game,” said Kelly. “I am excited about our staff. We have some really outstanding coaches. Last year I came straight to this game after the Super 7 finals. You have to be able to shift gears, but it doesn’t take you long when you see how important this game is to the players and coaches in this state. I am looking forward to the game already.”

Kelly, who had an outstanding collegiate career as a quarterback at Southern Miss, was selected in the 7th round of the 2002 NFL Draft by the Seattle Seahawks. He played his high school ball for the Citronelle Wildcats and represented his squad at the 1996 Alabama-Mississippi Classic with a touchdown pass in Alabama’s 17-14 victory.

Staff highlights

Gilmer and Kelly coached opposite each other in last season’s Class 6A state championship game between Clay-Chalkville and Saraland. Gilmer’s Cougar squad won the state title 31-28 by stopping Kelly’s Spartans on the 1-yard line on the last play from scrimmage. Hoover’s newest head coach, Gilmer, went 81-12 in his time at Clay-Chalkville.

Massey, who is 93-52 at Leroy, coached the Bears to a 13-1 record and the 1A state crown in 2022. Leroy finished 14-0 last season and won the state championship again, but Massey, a National Guardsman, was activated during the season and was on active duty when the playoffs started. His assistant coach Chan Lowe stepped in as interim head coach to lead the Bears to the 2023 state crown.

Johnson, the All-Star defensive coordinator, is 41-2 after 3 seasons as head coach at Montgomery Catholic. His Knights won the 4A state title last season with a 15-0 mark where they allowed only 73 points all year. His first two teams finished 13-1 and fell in the semifinals each time. His 2021 team allowed just 43 points in 14 games — 3.1 ppg.

Faulkner, a highly respected coach who will be serving as the offensive coordinator, has compiled a 72-61 record in 13 seasons. Mitchell has gone 10-0 in the regular season the last 2 years at Class 6A Hillcrest and is 34-5 in 3 seasons with the Patriots. His overall record is 38-13.

Jernigan, like Kelly, played in the Alabama-Mississippi Classic. In fact, Jernigan holds the distinction of being the only player in the history of the Alabama-Mississippi Classic to throw a touchdown pass to himself. He caught his own batted pass and raced 22 yards for a touchdown in the 2006 game as Alabama won 24-3 at Ladd-Peebles Stadium in Mobile. Jernigan was selected in the 3rd round of the 2011 NFL Draft out of Troy University and spent 4 seasons in the NFL.

Benefield, the Hall-of-Fame veteran of 32 seasons, has more state championships in the last decade (7) than games lost (6). He enters 2024 with an overall record of 351-56. The rest of the coaching staff owns a combined overall record of 513-110.

Next All-Star announcements

The players will be selected for the 2025 Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Classic next fall, said AHSADCA Director Dean. The AHSAA and AHSADCA, in conjunction with the Mississippi Association of Coaches (MAC), administer the all-star game each year.

The 2024 AHSAA North-South All-Star Football Classic coaches will be announced by the first week of April, Dean said. That game will also be played at Hancock Whitney Stadium next December.


2023: Alabama 26, Mississippi 17 – Hattiesburg

2022: Alabama 14, Mississippi 10 – Montgomery

2021: Alabama 20, Mississippi 0 – Hattiesburg

2020: Alabama 19, Mississippi 7 – Montgomery

2019: Mississippi 17, Alabama 16 (OT) – Hattiesburg

2018: Mississippi 24, Alabama 20 – Montgomery

2017: Mississippi 42, Alabama 7 – Hattiesburg

2016: Alabama 25, Mississippi 14 – Montgomery

2015: Mississippi 28, Alabama 21 – Hattiesburg

2014: Alabama 36, Mississippi 30 – Montgomery

2013: Alabama 21, Mississippi 17 – Montgomery

2012: Alabama 21, Mississippi 16 – Montgomery

2011: Alabama 31, Mississippi 12 – Montgomery

2010: Alabama 24, Mississippi 17 (2 OT) – Montgomery

2009: Alabama 21, Mississippi 13 – Montgomery

2008: Alabama 28, Mississippi 3 – Montgomery

2007: Mississippi 26, Alabama 7 – December

2007: Alabama 51, Mississippi 14 – June

2006: Alabama 24, Mississippi 3 – Mobile

2005: Mississippi 21, Alabama 18 – Mobile

2004: Alabama 24, Mississippi 22 – Mobile

2003: Alabama 24, Mississippi 16 – Mobile

2002: Alabama 29, Mississippi 17 – Mobile

2001: Alabama 33, Mississippi 14 – Mobile

2000: Alabama 16, Mississippi 9 – Mobile

1999: Alabama 28, Mississippi 24 – Mobile

1998: Mississippi 9, Alabama 0 – Mobile

1997: Alabama 10, Mississippi 6 – Mobile

1996: Alabama 17, Mississippi 14 – Mobile

1995: Mississippi 37, Alabama 9 – Mobile

1994: Mississippi 24, Alabama 10 – Mobile

1993: Mississippi 17, Alabama 6 – Mobile

1992: Mississippi 17, Alabama 14 – Mobile

1991: Alabama 15, Mississippi 13 – Mobile

1990: Alabama 21 Mississippi 14 (OT) – Mobile

1989: Alabama 24 Mississippi 21 (4 OT) – Mobile

1988: Alabama 24, Mississippi 21 (3 OT) – Mobile

SERIES HISTORY: Alabama leads 26-11