Photo: Gadsden City High School senior Dre Kirkpatrick (21) runs back an interception during Alabama/Mississippi All-Star Classic football game on Dec. 15 in Hattiesburg, Miss. (AHSAA photo/Riley Campbell/Pure Game)
By Chris McCarthy, Publisher/Editor
Dre Kirkpatrick, Jr., certainly made his presence felt at the 37th Alabama-Mississippi All-Star Football Classic on Dec. 15 in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
The Gadsden City High senior and University of Alabama commitment came up with four turnovers – three of which led to touchdowns – to help the Alabama All-Stars post a 26-17 victory on the campus of the University of Southern Mississippi.
Kirkpatrick’s block and recovery of a punt led to Jamarian Burnett’s TD run that gave Alabama a 7-0 lead after one quarter.
With less than four minutes remaining in the first half, Kirkpatrick picked up a fumble and returned the ball 26 yards to the Mississippi 16. Two plays later, quarterback Jared Hollins connected with Ryan Williams for a touchdown and a 20-10 advantage.
With Alabama nursing a 10-point lead and Mississippi driving inside the Alabama 10 midway through the third quarter, Kirkpatrick picked off a pass in the end zone and returned it to the 8-yard line. Three plays later, quarterback Roman Gagliano connected with Malcom Simmons for an 88-yard touchdown pass and a 26-10 lead.
Late in the fourth quarter, Kirkpatrick ended Mississippi’s last legitimate threat when he intercepted a pass at the Alabama 37 and returned it to midfield.
In addition, Kirkpatrick had six tackles, rushed once for 11 yards and returned a kickoff 25 yards. He finished the past season with 57 tackles and five interceptions as the Titans went 9-4, won a second straight region title and made the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2016.
GCHS head football coach Ali Smith said that Kirkpatrick graduated early from Gadsden City and is enrolled in the spring semester at Alabama. He added that Kirkpatrick will get to travel with the UA football team for the Crimson’s Tide’s Rose Bowl game against Michigan on Jan. 1 in Pasadena, Calif.
“Dre was very excited to participate in an environment like (the AL/MS game), and he puts 100 percent into everything he does,” said Smith. “That it showed in his performance, because he played exceptionally well against the top competition in the state. Dre now has a great opportunity at the next level, and we’re looking forward to what he can accomplish.”
This article was supplemented by ahsaa.com.