Cager makes noise at linebacker

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, October 9, 2002

Belma Cager is making the best of his senior year with theBrookhaven Panthers. Moved to middle linebacker, Cager has been apleasant surprise. He provides leadership and plenty oftackles.

Last Friday night against the McComb Tigers, Cager accounted for15 tackles, three of them for losses, in Brookhaven’s narrow 14-12defeat. For his performance, Cager has been selected The DailyLeader’s Defensive Player of the Week for the sixth week ofthe 2002 campaign.

Cager (5-10, 190) combines quickness, speed, strength andintelligence to make his statement as a standout linebacker. Hemaintains a 3.6 GPA in the classroom and has scored 22 on theACT.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

His mother, Brenda Cager, is an accounting teacher at BHS. Hisfavorite subject is history. His father, Belma senior, playedlinebacker and running back at Scott Central.

“I didn’t’ know I got that many (tackles),” said Cager. “Iappreciate the award. I had a lot of help from our defensive lineand the linebackers playing alongside me.”

Working at linebacker with Cager are Josh Anderson, EmmanuelPerkins and LaKendrick Maxwell. Starting in Brookhaven’s defensiveline are Phillip Tobias, Jason Dixon, Jesse Bowman and JuliusBrown.

They helped limit McComb to 113 yards total offense. Twofirst-half turnovers helped the Tigers score touchdowns and escapeKing Field with a victory.

“It (loss) hurt a lot Friday night,” said Cager. “Now we have toget ready for Terry. We want to take everybody else indistrict.”

Brookhaven (3-3, 2-1) still has a good shot at making the stateplayoffs if the Panthers can win the rest of their games. Last yearthey advanced to state as the No. 4 team out of Region 6-4A.

Wearing jersey No. 25, Cager has made his presence known on thegridiron. Brookhaven head coach Tucker Peavey has been pleased withCager’s progress.

“Belma has been a pleasant surprise,” said Peavey. “He’sexplosive. His biggest asset is his speed. He’s a hard worker andhe has those natural instincts which make a good linebacker.”

According to Cager, the Panther defense is getting stronger eachgame. They are under the direction of new defensive coordinator RodHenderson.

“I feel proud to play with this defense,” said Cager. “They areplaying well. Coach Henderson is bringing us together. Each week welearn a lot.”

At middle linebacker, Cager said his first priority is to takethe dive play and make the tackle in the backfield. “I like to hitpeople.

“I enjoy playing for Coach Peavey,” said Cager. “We are going tomake some noise in the district.”

Cager has 4.55 speed in the 40-yard dash. He bench presses 260pounds and squats with 420.

“Belma is a great kid,” said Henderson. “He plays hard everygame.”

Cager said he wants to play college football. He likes to followAlcorn State and Grambling. He wants to pursue a career inbusiness. His favorite NFL team is the Tennessee Titans and hisfavorite player is Corey Dillon, a linebacker for the CincinnatiBengals.

“Lifting weights has helped me a lot,” said Cager. “It helps metake on the blocker.”

Cager has taken on a lot of blockers this season and he has madea lot of tackles. Like the Panthers, he’ll keep improving, too.