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Johns improving quarterback skills

Jimmy Johns is improving with age. The Brookhaven juniorquarterback threw four touchdown passes in last Friday night’s 50-7triumph over the Jackson Wingfield Falcons.

That performance by Johns has earned him The DAILY LEADER’sOffensive Player of the Week award for the fourth week of the 2003campaign. Awards are nothing new for the outstanding athlete. Hewas named the DL’s Mr. Football and Player of the Year on the 2002All-Lincoln County Football Team.

Brookhaven head coach Tucker Peavey said Johns has increased hisquarterbacking skills since last season when he led the Panthers toa 7-5 record and the third round of the Class 4A stateplayoffs.

“Jimmy has definitely improved since last year,” said Peavey.”He’s a more knowledgeable player. Friday night was the bestmechanics he has played this year. He made the right reads on histhrows and he did a better job in the mechanics of histhrowing.”

For the season, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Johns has thrown for 437yards and 9 touchdowns. In the 20-0 win over Clinton 2 weeks ago,he passed for 108 yards and rushed for 100.

“Whenever he relaxes and throws the ball naturally, he can throwit with velocity,” Peavey continued. “Sometimes he presses a littletoo much. He has made a lot of improvements.”

In the 55-47 loss to Vicksburg in 3 overtimes, 3 weeks ago,Johns sustained a deep thigh bruise but remained in the game. Hepassed for 3 TDs and ran for another.

“Jimmy is a competitor,” Peavey pointed out. “He wants to winand he wants to do well. He’s an athletic young man.”

A 2-time MVP on the BHS track team, Johns throws the discus,shot put, runs the 110 hurdles and is a member of the 1600-meterrelay team. He was runner-up in the state discus competition with athrow of 142-1, just 12 inches behind the champion.

Johns smiles broadly when he talks about his receiving corps.”We have some players with natural speed. Taurean Jones and RonnieMcNulty can run a 4.4. Bud Chatman and John Wayne Havard are 4.5s.Stan Patrick, Dominique Smith and Michael Thrasher have good hands,too.”

Against Wingfield, Havard pulled in TD passes of 40 and 55 yardsfrom Johns. He also caught a 76-yarder in the season opening win atHazlehurst.

“Everything starts with our offensive line,” said Johns. “Theyprotected real well. I only had to scramble once.”

Johns played only one offensive series in the second halfagainst Wingfield and the Panthers went ahead 50-zip.

Johns complimented his offensive line. “They have improved alot.”

Working up front for the Panthers are Grant McDonnieal atcenter, Kenneth Fairman at right guard, Adam Ogden at left guard,James Barker at right tackle, Tyler Gatlin at left tackle andThrasher at tight end.

“Our offensive players meet before each game and we talk,” saidJohns. “If somebody wants to get something off their chest, theydo. It’s a family thing.”

Asked about his favorite offensive play, Johns said, “It’s 15-14Naked. I fake a handoff up the middle and reverse out. It’s apass/run option.”

Brookhaven has a new offensive coordinator this year in JaymiePalmer. He replaced Ryan Ross who went to Southwest MississippiCommunity College.

“Coach Palmer is more aggressive because he has a defensivephilosophy,” said Johns. “He works us hard and makes us step it up.He works with our offensive line, too, and makes them better.”

Johns said the BHS coaching staff works overtime to improve thePanthers. “Our coaches put in a lot of time working after games andpractice. On Friday nights they’re here until 1:30 in themorning.”

The son of Charles and Patricia Butler enjoys watching the OleMiss Rebels play football. Johns attended a football camp at LSUlast summer and was impressed by the facilities.

His favorite NFL team is the Denver Broncos. His favorite playeris Tennessee Titans quarterback Steve McNair, a Mt. Olive nativeand Alcorn State graduate. “He’s a warrior.”

The Panthers (3-1, 1-0) have a Region 6-4A showdown Friday nightagainst the Jim Hill Tigers (3-1, 1-0) on Jackson’s Hughes Field.”We want to welcome them to Region 6-4A,” said Johns. “They are asolid team.”