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Perkins helps lead Brookhaven Panthers to state playoffs

Making the state playoffs is a dream come true for theBrookhaven Panthers, especially the seniors. Fred Perkins is one ofthe seniors who helped make it happen.

In the Division 6-4A showdown with Lawrence County last Fridaynight, Perkins rushed 18 times for 171 yards and three touchdowns.His 76-yard TD gallop gave Brookhaven an early lead and swungmomentum in favor of the Panthers.

For his performance, Perkins has been selected The DailyLeader’s Offensive Player of the Week for the final week of the2000 regular season.

Next up for the Panthers is a Friday night date with theDivision 8-4A champion Gautier Gators at Pascagoula’s War MemorialStadium.

“I’m glad to win so we can make the playoffs,” said Perkins.”Now we want to go and win it all.

“Our team is real excited about (playoffs),” Perkinscontinued. “A lot of people didn’t expect us to win but twogames.”

The Panthers stand at 7-2 on the season and 4-1 in thedivision. They opened the season with a loss at Vicksburg butregrouped and won five straight games before losing to divisionchampion McComb.

Perkins has been a catalyst in Brookhaven’s success. At6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, he at times resembled a powerfullocomotive with quick feet. He has scored 15 touchdowns and rushedfor 752 yards

Against Lawrence County, the quarterback option proved to bethe most successful play. “The fullback dives through the hole,”said Perkins, describing the play. “If the defensive tackle takeshim, I’ll pull (ball) out. If the defensive end doesn’t make mepitch it, I’ll tuck it in and run.”

Perkins had an 87-yard scoring run against Mendenhall. Heruns a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash.

“Our offensive line has improved every week,” said Perkins.”I expect them to step up for the playoffs.”

Scott Franklin starts at center for the Panthers. MauriceSuggs and Adam Furlow work at guard. Randy Jackson and RayshaunAutman start at offensive tackle. Corey Wilson and Billy Williamsalternate at tight end.

Perkins said tailback Cornelius Allen, fullback JoshAnderson and wingback Tarik Williams can be counted on foroffensive production when the Panthers have the ball. “Josh hasstepped up a lot as a sophomore. Cornelius has been doing good eversince the ninth grade. Tarik has made some good runs for us thisyear.”

According to Perkins, the BHS quartet give opposing defenseslots of problems. “It’s hard for defenses to stop us because allfour of us can run.”

Lawrence County would agree. “Our game plan was to throw andrun but (Cougars) couldn’t stop the run,” said Perkins. “We didn’thave many third-and-longs.”

Perkins believes the Panthers can author a victory overGautier. “Gautier is supposed to have good people at the skillpositions and they’re pretty fast.

“We have to execute and play the way we did against LawrenceCounty,” Perkins continued. “Last year Lawrence County hit themhard and they had to carry several players off the field.”

A win over Gautier would probably put the Panthers back homeon King Field for the second round of the playoffs. “We would liketo play another home game,” said Perkins. “That’s what we wouldlike to do.”

Brookhaven head coach Greg Wall realizes Perkins has come along way in a short period of time. Perkins was thinking mainlyabout slant and post patterns when he started preseason practice inearly August. He was a 2-year starter at tight end and widereceiver.

“Fred is the guy who makes the plays for us,” said Wall. “Hedoes the reading and decision making. He’s done a goodjob.”

Wall said sophomore fullback Josh Anderson’s hard-nosedinterior running kept Lawrence County from spreading the defensiveline to cover the corners. “Josh kept them honest inside. He keptLawrence County from concentrating on Perkins.”

Jackson, a senior offensive tackle, said Perkins is a factoron every play. “It’s a good feeling when you know Fred has the ballin his hands. It’s fun blocking for Fred, especially on theoption.

“You keep running it and running it,” Jackson continued.”All he needs is a crease and he’s gone.”

Playoff Panthers: This is the second time for the Panthersto make the state playoffs under Wall’s direction. They went 12-1three years ago, reaching the South State finals before losing toNortheast Jones.