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Hickman takes over Brookhaven football, athletic dept.

Andrew Hickman wants to build a strong overall athletic programin the City of Brookhaven public school system. He also wantsBrookhaven High School to maintain its high level of success on thefootball field.

Hickman, 37, was officially introduced as Brookhaven’s newathletic director and head football coach at a Monday newsconference. He replaces Greg Wall who coached five years at BHS,compiling a 35-17 record and making two state playoffappearances.

Wall is returning to South Pike where he coached for 25 years,winning two state championships and finishing runner-up twice. Hereplaces Clarence Morgan who has retired after five years at thehelm.

Brookhaven Superintendent of Education Dr. Sam Bounds saidHickman was among 15 candidates for the job. He interviewed fivefinalists and was most impressed with Hickman who comes toBrookhaven after three years as head football coach and AD atGeorge County in Lucedale.

“We have hired an outstanding coach and educator,” said Bounds.”We had an impressive list of qualified applicants.”

During his eight years as an assistant coach at Milton andPanama City, Fla., Hickman also taught biology. He was recognizedas a Star Teacher.

A 1981 graduate of Picayune High School, Hickman playedquarterback. He moved to wide receiver at Pearl River CommunityCollege and played for Coach Joe Arban. He graduated from theUniversity of Southern Mississippi and obtained a Master’s degreefrom Mississippi College.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to coach in Brookhaven,” saidHickman. “I want to thank Dr. Bounds and the school board forgiving me the opportunity.”

Hickman said he planned to meet with the present assistantcoaches and players in the next few days. He plans to start springpractice April 28.

“There’s no reason why we can’t have the best overall athleticprogram in Mississippi, right here in Brookhaven,” said Hickman.”We are putting together a business. To be successful, it takesloyalty and dedication from coaches and players alike.”

Hickman inherited a 2-9 program at George County. He compiled a3-year record of 20-16. He was 5-6 his first year, followed by 8-5and 7-5 records. The Rebels beat Hancock 42-31 in last year’sShrimp Bowl. They reached the second round of the state playoffs in1999.

Asked about his coaching philosophy, Hickman said he believed inthe passing game. “When you need to score in a hurry, you have tothrow the football.”

He had two 1,000-yard rushers last season out of the Iformation. Hickman said he will call the offensive plays.

Regarding defense, Hickman said he prefers a multiple alignment,depending on the opponents’ strengths.

Brookhaven currently has a 9-game schedule. The Panthers kickoff the 2001 campaign Aug. 31, at Hazlehurst, a Class 3A opponent.The Panthers are members of Division 6-4A which has produced thelast two state football champions, Lawrence County and McComb.

Hickman said he prefers an 1l-game schedule. “I’ve always caughtsome heat about playing tough teams. We have played Wayne Countyand Harrison Central, both 5A teams, but that helped us down theroad when we made the state playoffs.”

Regarding the future, Hickman said he wanted to build characteron the football team. “I want to have a kid learn more than justfootball. They are going to grow up and become citizens in society;valuable members of the community.”

Brookhaven finished the 2000 campaign with a 7-3 record, losingto Gautier in the opening round of the state playoffs. There wereonly 37 players on the varsity.

“The potential is there to have a lot more players on oursquad,” said Hickman. “We had 85 kids, grades 10-12, on our team atGeorge County. You have to get out and recruit them.”

Hickman said the overall athletic program is important to him.”If we line up for anything, even playing marbles, I wantBrookhaven to be the best team out there.

“Dr. Bounds has assured me that he wants to do whatever isnecessary to be successful in all areas of athletics.”

Hickman is married to the former Karen Massengill of Brookhaven.She is a 1984 BHS graduate who played on Brookhaven’s 40-0basketball team her senior year. They have three children, Hannah,age 9; Will, 6; and Heath, 4.

The Hickmans are Baptist and he is an active leader in theFellowship of Christian Athletes. In his spare time, Hickman enjoysdeer hunting.

Brookhaven school board president Carl Aycock said he has knownHickman for 10 years. “Andrew will emphasize character on thefootball team and in other sports. The results will take care ofitself.”

BHS principal Ray Ballantine agreed. “I have known about Andrewfor several years and we are excited to have him in the system. Hewill bring strong character and leadership to our school.”