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Perkins makes giant strides from receiver to QB

Fred Perkins has made giant strides since preseason practicebegan in early August.

Fred Perkins has made giant strides since preseason practicebegan in early August. Perkins was moved from wide receiver toquarterback, an adjustment which usually requires several months,not just four weeks of instruction before starting the 2000campaign.

In last Friday night’s 25-20 win at South Pike, Perkins rushed22 times for 111 yards and scored two touchdowns against theEagles. That performance has earned him The Daily Leader’sOffensive Player of the Week Award for the eighth week of theseason.

Brookhaven head coach Greg Wall recognizes the contributionsPerkins has made to the team. The Panthers are making the most of amajor building year. They are 5-1 overall and winners of fivestraight games. They are 2-0 in the Division 6-4A race.

“Fred has really developed as a quarterback,” said Wall. “Hehas given us an edge offensively. He can make plays happen. He hasmade some big ones for us this year.”

Probably the biggest so far this season was an impromptuscramble which gained Brookhaven a crucial third down conversion.South Pike had just scored a touchdown in the third quarter,reducing Brookhaven’s lead to 18-14. Momentum, like a large, greenwave, was rising in favor of the host Eagles who were encouraged bya large and vocal partisan crowd.

“I dropped back to pass but South Pike had our receiverscovered,” Perkins recalled. “I looked to my left and then to myright. I saw a small opening on the right so I ran up thesideline.”

After the 21-yard run, Perkins had his team a first down atSouth Pike’s 38-yard line. Two plays later he galloped 21 moreyards, setting up a short touchdown run by fullback Josh Andersonand giving Brookhaven a 25-14 lead.

“South Pike had one of the best defensive lines we’ve facedbut our offensive line blocked great,” said Perkins. “Theyprotected me good.”

Scott Franklin starts at center for the Panthers. MauriceSuggs and Kern Hoff usually start at guard but Adam Furlow replacedHoff when he went down with a first-quarter knee injury againstSouth Pike. Randy Jackson and Rayshaun Autman start at offensivetackle. Corey Wilson and Billy Williams alternate at tightend.

Perkins (6-foot-3, 208 pounds), a college prospect at widereceiver after last season, was getting some serious inquiries fromsoutheast colleges when he was asked to give quarterback a try. “Hewas willing to play where we needed him the most,” said Wall. “Fredis a team player.”

In the weight room, Perkins bench presses 270 pounds andsquats with 415. He runs a 4.5 in the 40-yard dash.

“I had a lot of stuff to learn in a short period of time,”said Perkins. “I was kind of skeptical. I had played wide receiver,wingback and tight end so I already knew some of thepositions.”

Ryan Ross serves as Brookhaven’s offensive coordinator. “Ouroffense is more wide open,” said Perkins. “We run a lot of countersand reverses. It keeps defenses off balance.”

The Panthers celebrate homecoming Friday night and theMcComb Tigers invade King Field. McComb stands at 7-1 overall and3-0 in Division 6-4A, making the game even more important.

“We have an even bigger game with McComb Friday night,” saidPerkins. “To win it will take our offense and defense playing fourquarters. Our offense has got to play a full game and avoidturnovers.”

Perkins said he enjoys playing for Coach Wall. “He’s stillstrict but he’s more relaxed this year. He’s got some good coachesworking with him.”

In his spare time, Perkins said he enjoys playingbasketball. He is a volunteer with the Boys & Girls Club. Incollege football, he likes the Florida Gators and and Virginia Techquarterback Michael Vick, a Heisman Trophy candidate. He followsthe Minnesota Vikings and wide receiver Randy Moss.

He holds a part-time job on weekends with Church’s FriedChicken. His cousin is former Bogue Chitto basketball star VanessaAndrews who signed with Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

An outfielder in baseball, Perkins was named to The DailyLeader’s All-Lincoln County Team as a junior. He batted .400, hit 2homers and stole 15 bases, helping the Panthers reach the stateplayoffs.

In the classroom, Perkins maintains a 3.0 GPA. His favoritesubject is math. His younger brother, Emanuel, is a sophomorestrong safety for the Panthers.

Perkins could play either football or baseball in college.”The Lord has blessed me with some ability. After the season I’llsit down with my mom and dad, pray about my future and make adecision.

“Right now we want to beat McComb and go to the stateplayoffs.”