Six players to represent Baldwin County at AHSAA North-South All-Star Football Classic

Uter becomes Bayside Academy’s first selection, will be joined by two from Daphne and Foley, one from Gulf Shores

Sports Editor
Posted 10/16/23

When the Alabama High School Athletic Association revealed the rosters for the 65th annual North-South Football Classic on Saturday, Oct. 14, six players from Baldwin County were featured.

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Six players to represent Baldwin County at AHSAA North-South All-Star Football Classic

Uter becomes Bayside Academy’s first selection, will be joined by two from Daphne and Foley, one from Gulf Shores


When the Alabama High School Athletic Association revealed the rosters for the 65th annual North-South Football Classic on Saturday, Oct. 14, six players from Baldwin County were featured.

Bayside Academy lineman and SMU commit Graham Uter became his school’s first selection and will be joined on the offensive line by Foley’s Logan Joellenbeck, a South Alabama commit.

They’ll look to clear space for running backs the likes of Kolton Nero from the Lions, Nick Clark from Daphne and Ronnie Royal from Gulf Shores. On the other side of the ball, Tyler Durant will also represent the Trojans and will look to help stop the run from his defensive end position.

After another eight Baldwin County athletes helped the South All-Stars earn a 42-7 win last year and set a scoring record, the 2023 group will be searching for a second consecutive win in the all-time series that the South leads 34-28-2.

Joining them at Hancock Whitney Stadium will be Mark Heaton, an assistant coach with the Baldwin County Tigers who will serve an administrative role on the North All-Star coaching staff alongside T.R. Miller’s Andy Lambert. It will serve as Heaton’s third consecutive appearance on an all-star staff.

Bayside Academy: Graham Uter – 6-foot-5, 285-pound offensive lineman

The SMU commit will serve as the Admirals’ first South All-Star after he and kicker Joey Jones were second-team all-state honorees last year.

So far this season, Uter has helped Bayside Academy to a 5-2 overall record and a 3-2 mark within Class 4A Region 1. Although he’ll likely only play offense at the next level, he’s still playing defense for the Admirals and had registered 33 total tackles with 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks and 3 quarterback hurries through six games.

Gulf Shores: Ronnie Royal – 5-foot-11, 185-pound athlete

The NC State commit marks the sixth overall Dolphin selected to the AHSAA All-Star Game and becomes the first since defensive back Daniel LaBorde went in 2012.

Before LaBorde, a trio from Gulf Shores went in 2009 including offensive lineman Michael and Matthew Nehls and wide receiver Jonathan Adams. Quarterback Gary Johnston, the current offensive coordinator of the Foley Lions, was the Dolphins’ first South All-Star representative in 2007.

Royal has helped Gulf Shores to its first No. 1 ranking and 8-0 start in program history with 1,464 all-purpose yards and 12 touchdowns on top of 23 total tackles so far. He’s registered at least one touchdown in each of the Dolphins’ games.

Daphne: Tyler Durant – 6-foot-3, 275-pound defensive lineman; and Nick Clark – 5-foot-9, 200-pound running back

Leaders of their respective units, Durant and Clark also garnered all-state distinction for their team where the former made the second team and the latter was an honorable mention. Each had big contributions last week to help improve to 4-3 overall and 3-1 in Class 7A Region 1.

The two Trojans became their school’s 23rd and 24th overall selections to the AHSAA All-Star Game but also extended a streak to four years with at least one Daphne representative. The string was started by quarterback Trent Battle in 2020, defensive lineman James Quinnelly followed in 2021 before wide receiver Stephon Blackshear competed in last year’s win.

Clark had logged 636 rushing yards on 83 carries with 4 touchdowns through six games and Durant had compiled 33 total tackles with 3 tackles for loss and 13 quarterback hurries through seven contests according to MaxPreps.

Foley: Logan Joellenbeck – 6-foot-6, 335-pound offensive lineman; and Kolton Nero – 5-foot-11, 228-pound running back

The Lion duo marks the second straight year a pair of athletes will play an extra game together after defensive end AJ Prim and offensive lineman Cam Schultz were featured on last year’s roster. Before them, it was the 2020 contest that featured kicker Forrest Taylor.

Joellenbeck and Nero became the Lions’ 31st and 32nd overall selection to the South All-Star squad and joined quarterback Kenny Stabler who was selected to the 1963 All-Star Game as part of six Foley representatives that decade.

Joellenbeck has helped anchor an offensive line unit that has paved the way for one of the state’s leading rushers in Nero. Contributing alongside Joellenbeck have been linemen the likes of EJ Thomas, Arnez Jones, Matthew Biggs and Seth Hartleroad.

Nero has racked up 1,484 rushing yards on 162 carries with 17 touchdowns through seven games where the rushing total ranks third in MaxPreps’ state rankings as of Monday by only 7 yards.

Baldwin County: Coach Mark Heaton – Administrator

After he joined defensive back DJ Jackson at last year’s contest, Heaton will be the Tigers’ lone representative this year.

Heaton is in his fifth season coaching at Baldwin County. The Demopolis alum previously served as a head coach at J.U. Blacksher, Escambia County, Haleyville and Russellville and is now in his 22nd year coaching overall.

Selection process

Brandon Dean, Director of the Alabama High School Athletic Directors and Coaches Association (AHSADCA) made the announcement of the two 37-member squads following the efforts of the selection committee which included the two coaching staffs.

“We have an abundance of talent in our state each year, and both teams selected reflect that talent,” Dean said. “We are looking forward to another exciting game this December.”

The AHSADCA administers the game each year. All players selected are 2023 seniors. The game, scheduled to kick off at 2 p.m., will be televised live over the AHSAA TV Network and live streamed over the NFHS Network. Vince Earley of WOTM TV is the executive producer.

Dean also shared his appreciation for the host city’s effort each year.

“We are grateful for the City (and County) of Mobile, the Mobile Sports Authority and the University of South Alabama for their continued interest and support of this all-star event,” he said. “We look forward to another momentous week in Mobile with some of the best student-athletes in this state. We also thank our member schools unwavering support of this game.”

All-time series

The South holds a slim 34-28-2 edge in the series which was played in Tuscaloosa from 1948-1984. Two games, a small-school and large-school contest, were played in 1984 with the North winning the 1A-2A game played at Auburn 21-20 and the South winning the large-school game at Tuscaloosa that year 7-6. Both games are counted in the overall series record.

The classic was discontinued in 1985 and reinstated as part of the AHSAA All-Star Sports Week in 1997. From 2010-2019 the game was played at Montgomery’s Cramton Bowl as part of the AHSAA and AHSADCA All-Star Sports Week. The game was cancelled due to the COVID-19 Pandemic in the summer of 2020 and seniors of 2021 played in the first game of the series played in December of that year.

This year’s game will be the fourth classic played at Hancock Whitney Stadium in the North-South Game’s long history. The South won the 2020 Classic in Mobile, 28-20, and the North won 14-10 in 2021’s game in Mobile. The game was played at Cramton Bowl from 1997-2004, then moved to Troy University for two years and Huntsville’s Alabama A&M University from 2007-2010. It returned to Montgomery in 2011.

The AHSADCA, which operates under the auspices of the Alabama High School Athletic Association still plays its other All-Star Games in boys’ and girls’ basketball, baseball, softball, boys’ and girls’ soccer, volleyball, boys’ and girls’ cross country, tennis and golf during All-Star Week currently held in Montgomery each July.

Full roster

First Last – School: Position, height, weight

Ronnie Royal – Gulf Shores: Ath, 5'11, 185

Jayden Phifer – Montgomery Catholic: DB, 5'11, 180; EJ Hall – B.T. Washington: DB, 5'10, 180; Arthur Woods – Reeltown: DB, 5'9, 170; Ke'Aviyon Durry – Dothan: DB, 5'11, 180; Joe Lott – UMS-Wright: DB, 6'3, 190

Joseph Phillips – B.T. Washington: DE/LB, 6'3, 245; Kam Weaver – Andalusia: DE/LB, 6'1, 200; Demarcus Riddick  - Chilton County: DE/LB, 6'3, 220; Tynean Goodwin – Faith Academy: DE/LB, 6'3, 190; Caleb Dozier – Headland: DE/LB, 6'3, 230; Quinton Cook – Loachapoka: DE/LB, 6'2, 190; Keion Dunlap – Enterprise: DE/LB, 6'2, 205

Landon Marshall – Andalusia: DL, 6'3, 285; Trashun Griffin – Bibb County: DL, 6'4, 255; Ashton Wright – B.C. Rain: DL, 6'4, 275; Tyler Durant – Daphne: DL, 6'3, 275; Miles Adams – Flomaton: DL, 6'5, 280

Matthew Wilfork – Abbeville: OL, 6'2, 285; Benton Dunn – Charles Henderson: OL, 6'2, 275; Logan Joellenbeck – Foley: OL, 6'6, 335; Kalari Gordon – Carver-Montgomery: OL, 6'3, 320; Brandon Autery – Saraland: OL, 6'4, 280; Graham Uter – Bayside Academy: OL, 6'5, 285; Andre Woods – Prattville: OL, 6'3, 295

Nick Person – Charles Henderson, P/K, 5'11, 176

Caleb McCreary – Montgomery Catholic: QB, 5'11, 185; Joshua Flowers – Baker: QB, 6'3, 225

Kolton Nero – Foley: RB, 5'11, 228; DJ Butler – Davidson: RB, 6'0, 185; Nick Clark – Daphne: RB, 5'9, 200; Jabari Murphy – Elmore County: RB, 6'2, 210

James Bolton – Mary G. Montgomery: TE/WR, 6'2, 190; Malcom Simmons – Ben Russell: TE/WR, 6'0, 170; KK Beckham – Baker: TE/WR, 5'11, 180; Jerrian Graham – Vigor: TE/WR, 6'2, 190; Ean Nation – Auburn: TE/WR, 5'10, 170