Football had changes, titles

Published 6:04pm Thursday, December 27, 2012

2012 featured a year of change in the high school football coaching ranks but three items remained certain. Brookhaven Academy and Hazlehurst on the high school level contended for a state championship and succeeded. Copiah-Lincoln Community College competed for the South Division title again but the Wolfpack finished runners-up.

However, Coach Glenn Davis and his Co-Lin squad achieved state championship status for the first time since 1985, upsetting favorites East Mississippi and Gulf Coast in last-minute state playoff victories. Co-Lin’s Cinderella season continued in the Fifth Annual Mississippi Bowl but a last-second field goal lifted Garden City (Kan.) Community College to a 31-29 victory in Biloxi’s Indian Stadium.

Football remained the most popular item on the local sports scene, with the exception of a few outstanding basketball teams. The West Lincoln boys and Bogue Chitto girls both made it to the Class 1A State Basketball Tournament but both lost in the semifinals.

Meanwhile, Brookhaven Academy’s girls and boys made a strong state tournament showing but fell short of their title goals.

Also in basketball, Co-Lin’s Lady Wolves enjoyed another outstanding campaign under legendary coach Gwyn Young. They finished runners-up in the state tournament and fell short of a return trip to NJCAA Nationals in Salina, Kan., when they lost in the region semifinals.

Young, in his 33rd season at the helm of Co-Lin basketball fortunes, achieved his 800th career victory Nov. 13, in the Southwest Coca-Cola Classic. His Lady Wolves defeated Southern-Shreveport 71-65. Recognized as the winningest active women’s basketball coach, Young owned an overall record of 800 wins and 238 losses at that moment in time.

For sure, 2012 was a time for change. Seven new area high school head football coaches sent their respective teams into battle during sweat-soaked nights of mid-August. On a below-freezing Thursday morning, sweat seems like a distant memory from another galaxy.

“Gosh. We sure could use some warmer weather.”

Be careful what you wish for.

When August arrives. “Gosh. We sure could use some cooler weather.”

Back to football. For the record, Coach Tommy Clopton replaced Wade Henderson at Brookhaven, Ronald Greer replaced Clopton at Wesson, Willie Brumfield replaced Chris Calcote at West Lincoln, Brooks Burns replaced Casey Eubanks at Enterprise, Michael Andrews replaced Willie Brown at South Pike, David Parker replaced Mike Davis at Lawrence County and Mike Powell replaced Bo Milton at Parklane Academy.

If you are keeping score: Clopton got the Panthers back in the state playoffs and they finished 5-6. Greer guided Wesson to a 7-4 record and the Class 2A state playoffs but the Cobras made an early exit. Powell coached the Parklane Pioneers to an 8-3 record but they just missed the AAA playoffs.

Andrews and the South Pike Eagles managed a 1-9 mark. Parker’s LCHS Cougars realized a 1-10 mark and lost several close games. However, the administration was  unhappy with that mark and Parker got the axe in November, after only seven months on the job.

Brumfield coached the West Lincoln Bears to a 5-4 record, their first winning mark in the school’s 14-years of football. Burns inherited little at Enterprise when he came aboard and the Yellow Jackets finished winless (0-11).

In another Franklin County coaching chapter, Rickey O’Quinn was removed from the head job after a 7-4 record and assigned to basketball. Win-starved college football programs won’t hesitate to roll heads if they don’t live up to expectations. Unfortunately, high-risk job security is filtering down to the high school level.

In the meantime, second-year head football coach Randall Montgomery guided his Hazlehurst Indians to a perfect 16-0 record and the Class 3A state championship. Bogue Chitto, coached by Gareth Sartin, also flirted with perfection. However, Stringer handed the Bobcats their first loss in 14 games, 21-7, in the South State title game. Stringer won it all the next week, beating North champion French Camp Academy.

Brookhaven Academy, coached by Tripp McCarty, returned to the throne room after a remarkable turnaround. The Cougars were standing at 3-4 overall near the end of September but reeled off eight straight wins to claim the MAIS Class AA state championship.

And the beat goes on…

A new addition to the local football scene arrived in June when the Mississippi Heroes took the field. The Heroes, composed of former high school and college stars, were coached by Phil Campbell and quarterbacked mainly by Jimmy Johns. They played their home games at Brookhaven’s King Field on Saturday nights.

Enthusiasm was high for the first home game, attracting around 1,000 folks. As the season wore on, the losses mounted and enthusiasm dwindled. Maybe next year.

The rites of spring provided an uplifting twist in the warm sunshine. Brookhaven’s baseball Panthers, coached by Randy Spring, enjoyed their best-ever record, going 24-6-1 and winning the Region 5-5A title.

Intense pride in an athletic team finally returned to Enterprise. Coach Cass Brister’s Yellow Jackets won the Region 7-2A crown. It was the school’s first district baseball title in 31 years.

Enterprise’s fastpitch softball team made history with back-to-back region titles.

In golf, Brookhaven Academy captured a state championship, led by medalist Jacob Ross who signed with Ole Miss last month. Ross qualified for the U.S. Junior Amateur in Statham, N.H. last summer and reached the second round.

In tennis, Brookhaven Academy marched to an eighth straight state title, led by Will Hickman in No. 1 boys singles. Teammate Grant Melancon won No. 2 boys singles. Other BA state titles went to Brennan Miller and Jake Shelby in No. 1 boys doubles, Brock Smith and Graham Watson in No. 2 boys doubles and Terah Winborne and Madison Warren in No. 1 girls doubles.

And the beat goes on…

Contact sports editor Tom Goetz by Email: tgoetz@dailyleader.com