Alabama Stars Shine in 6A State Title Game
The AHSAA has provided some entertaining matchups this week. The state championship series was played in Tuscaloosa from Wednesday to Friday, with 6A finishing off the festivities.
The 6A State Championship game was a potential preview of the Alabama practice field, featuring a handful of Crimson Tide commits in the game between the Saraland Spartans and the Clay-Chalkville Cougars.
For the Cougars, star quarterback Jaylen Mbakwe is a five-star cornerback who committed to Coach Saban in July 2022. Mbakwe is a top-30 recruit according to recruiting models and will look to contribute early for the Crimson Tide in 2024.
For the Spartans, wide receiver Ryan Williams is a consensus five-star recruit from the 2025 class. Williams is the number one prospect both at his position and in the state, and the number four ranked recruit in the class of 2025. Defensive lineman Antonio Coleman is a four-star recruit for the 2025 class. He is a top-100 player in the country and top 10 at his position and state.
The two powerhouse programs met on the gridiron Friday night. Several high profile names were in attendance, including Alabama offensive coordinator Tommy Rees, Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian and Auburn head coach Hugh Freeze, among others. After a back-and-forth game that saw eight total touchdowns by Crimson Tide commits, Clay-Chalkville rose to the occasion, getting the defensive stop as time expired to win the state championship 31-28.
Cougars quarterback Jaylen Mbakwe was named the 6A Championship MVP after his performance. Mbakwe passed for 152 yards and a touchdown and ran for 136 yards and three touchdowns in the win. While he led Clay-Chalkville to an undefeated season at quarterback, Mbakwe won't be challenging Jalen Milroe for the starting quarterback position anytime soon.
When asked about playing in Bryant-Denny Stadium for his last high school game, Mbakwe said, "It feels amazing. When I found out that this game was going to be played in Bryant-Denny, I knew I had to be here. Kool-Aid did the same thing his senior year (win a state title in Bryant-Denny Stadium), so I had to too."
Ryan Williams and the Spartans came up just short of back-to-back state championships, but it wasn't due to lack of effort. Williams set an AHSAA Super Seven record for receiving yards in a game with 232 and had four total touchdowns, including an 86-yard kickoff return to open the second half, taking a 28-21 lead. Saraland would not score again.
After the game, Williams discussed the difference between the first and second halves, "We knew we had the mismatch and he (Saraland QB KJ Lacey) can put the ball in a place where I can go get it. In the second half, they started putting four or five people around me."
On his relationship with Cougars CB Mbakwe, "That's my dawg. We talk almost weekly, really almost every day. With everything that's going to happen in the future, we have to talk."
Williams also touched on what it meant to play this game in Bryant-Denny, "It felt great. It felt like home and I was very comfortable."
It won't be long before we hear from Williams again. He has hinted on his social media that an announcement is coming early next week.
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Gallery Credit: (Stephen Dethrage | Tuscaloosa Thread)