• 52°

Panthers await McComb Tigers

For many years, the McComb Tigers used to play Brookhaven in theregular season finale. A change in scheduling now has them meetingat the midway point of the season. They clash Friday night on KingField in a Region 6-4A showdown. Kickoff is 7:30.

McComb (4-1, 2-0), under the direction of second-year head coachTed Milton, is off to a strong start this year. The Tigers openedthe season with a victory over Class 5A Hattiesburg. They lost toWarren Central the next week but have won three straight sincethen.

Brookhaven (3-2, 2-0), coached by Tucker Peavey, is fresh fromwhipping Port Gibson in a King Field homecoming contest.

“We are hanging in there,” said Milton. “Our kids are playingreal hard and they are playing as a team. We are not a realtalented bunch. They are working hard and playing hard. This isenjoyable bunch to be around.”

McComb’s linebacker corps is led by seniors George Lewis (6-0,230) and Craig Nunnery (6-1, 225) .

“Lewis didn’t play last year but he’s getting in good shape,”said Milton. “Nunnery had an ankle injury in the spring but he’scoming back strong from surgery.”

Milton said the Panthers are improving every game. “We arefacing a well-coached ballclub Friday night,” said Milton. “Theyspread you out and give you a lot of looks. Tucker is doing a goodjob with them.

“They have a good quarterback in No. 10 (Jimmy Johns) who throwsthe ball well and runs well. They have a big tight end (BudChatman) who can catch the ball.”‘

Milton said he was impressed with Brookhaven’s defense which isunder the direction of defensive coordinator Rod Henderson.”Brookhaven is very aggressive out of the 4-3. They do a lot ofstunting with their down people. They are real aggressive and flyto the football.”

Brookhaven offensive coordinator Ryan Ross held a similarposition last year at McComb. He coached at McComb one year, aftercoaching the previous three at BHS. He helped the Tigers reach thestate playoffs in a major rebuilding season.

“Coach Ross knows basically what we are doing here,” saidMilton. “We have changed the offense some.”

Injuries have changed McComb’s quarterback situation. MichaelLewis (5-9, 163, jr.), a converted tailback, is quarterback rightnow.

“Our quarterback, Pat Barnes (5-11, 182, jr.) broke his jaw inthe Warren Central game,” said Milton. “He won’t be back for acouple of weeks.”

Barnes punted and place kicked for the Tigers. “We are havingsome trouble with our kicking game,” said Milton. “We missPatrick.”

Milton said Brookhaven has a great kicking game. “Number 18(Domenick DiPaolo) has a real strong leg.”

To win Friday night, Milton predicted, “We must limit ourmistakes. Whoever turns the football over the least will win. We’renot as big as Brookhaven.”

Johnathan Smith (6-0, 188) is a senior tailback and leads theTigers in rushing.

Peavey On Tigers

“McComb is a solid football team,” said Peavey. “They have someguys who can really run. They have a lot of guys on defense who canreally go. They don’t have great size but they’re quick and theycan move.”

For Brookhaven to beat McComb, Peavey said, “We will have toplay well in all phases. They are a sound team. Whenever you messup, they will take advantage of it.

“McComb is primarily a running team and we must stop the run,”said Peavey.

“Coach Ross knows their players, obviously. We will try toprepare for what we do best and go with it.”

There was some good news for Peavey and the Panthers earlierthis week. Defensive end Julius Lloyd had reportedly sustained abroken right ankle in last week’s game with Port Gibson.

“Lloyd does not have a broken ankle,” Peavey said. “We receiveda report from KDMC on a Port Gibson player who had sustained abroken arm.” Lloyd is out with a severe ankle sprain but couldreturn in a few weeks.

Rivalry Remembered

Peavey, a 1980 graduate, has vivid memories of theMcComb-Brookhaven series when he was a standout tight end anddefensive end for the Panthers. “I think we won our senioryear.”

In 1979, Peavey’s senior season, the Panthers beat McComb 21-0and finished 4-6 under second-year head coach Les Bumgarner. McCombhad won 29-20 in 1978. The Tigers beat the Panthers 22-7 in 1977,the last year for head coach Larry Thomas.

Players of Week

Kendell Nickelson on special teams, linebacker Belma Cager ondefense and wide receiver Bud Chatman on offense were namedBrookhaven’s Players of the Week after the Panthers blitzed PortGibson 55-12 in a homecoming victory

Chatman (6-3, 212, so.) caught 6 passes for 140 yards and 3touchdowns in the victory. Johns completed 10 of 17 passes for 175yards

Senior halfback Josh Anderson led the Panthers in rushing with13 carries for 94 yards and 1 TD. Darius Perkins rushed for 53yards and scored 2 TDs.

Linebacker Emmanuel Perkins led the Panthers with 7 tackles.Cager and LaKendrick Maxwell each had 5 tackles.

Panther Paws: Last year the Tigers beatBrookhaven 28-21 at McComb as tailback Michael Lewis rushed 22times for 151 yards and 4 touchdowns. Panther quarterback BillyWilliams rushed for 158 yards and 1 TD and passed for 104 yards andanother score.