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Panthers invade McComb

One of the oldest high school football rivalries in Mississippiis renewed Friday night at McComb’s C.C. Moore Stadium. Kickoff is7:30 p.m.

Brookhaven (4-1, 2-0) and McComb (3-2, 1-1) are both in the huntfor the Region 6-4A championship. South Pike (5-0, 1-0) andLawrence County (4-1, 1-1) are also in contention. South Pike is atTerry (2-3, 0-1) and Lawrence County visits Jim Hill (3-2, 1-1) inother region action Friday night.

McComb, coached by Ted Milton, kicked off its 2003 season withimpressive wins over Class 5A powers Hattiesburg and Warren Centralby 14-12 and 22-14 margins. The Tigers lost a tough 28-13 decisionto defending Class 5A state champion Wayne County the next week.They lost 41-21 to Lawrence County at Monticello in a major upsetbut rebounded to blast Wingfield 40-0 last Thursday night.

Brookhaven head coach Tucker Peavey has watched McComb on film.”As usual, they are a good football team. They are throwing theball more this year, that’s the biggest difference from lastyear.”

The Tigers are led by senior quarterback Pat Barnes (6-0, 185)who has displayed speed and accuracy with his passes. “Number 7(Barnes) is a good thrower,” Peavey pointed out.

“They have good skill people with good speed. They are still agood running team. They have added the dimension of throwing theball. We must defend the pass and the run to be successful.”

McComb’s primary receivers are Garrod Dyson, Michael Lewis,Rodarius Starks, Marion Williams and tight end Damien Seals.

Asked about McComb’s defense, Peavey said, “They are prettyathletic everywhere. There’s no area where they have aweakness.”

Milton, 53, is in his 25th year at McComb, his third as headcoach. He was a longtime assistant to Lee Bramlett when the Tigerswon the state championship in 2000.

Milton said he is concerned about Brookhaven’s offense. “We willhave to play above our heads to stay on the field with them. Theyare very explosive on offense. They have some weapons.”

Milton said he has eight new starters on defense this season. Hesaid Brookhaven’s rushing attack, led by Dominique Smith and RonnieMcNulty, “is doing a great job.” Quarterback Jimmy Johns has caughthis eye, too.

“When you have a quarterback like Johns, he is a threat to runthe football and throw it,” said Milton. “He has some greatreceivers in 81(Taurean Jones) and 84 (Bud Chatman) is so big hecan catch anything thrown his way.”

Milton said Brookhaven’s defensive front four can make lifemiserable for opposing quarterbacks. “I know we won’t have muchtime to pass. They come at you hard.”

The Panthers survived a strong challenge from Jackson Jim Hilllast week, winning 29-22. Johns, McNulty and Smith all rushed forover 100 yards as the Panthers overcame an early deficit. McNultyled the way with 13 carries for 153 yards, including a 69-yard,third-quarter TD.

“We made too many mistakes in the Hill game,” said Peavey. “It’sa concern for us. Our kids played hard and they didn’t giveup.”

On defense, free safety Jarvis Wilson returned a passinterception 74 yards to set up a TD. Aljur Herring had 7 tacklesto lead the defense. Wilson and Jessie Bowman each had 6tackles.

Brookhaven’s offensive line was recognized as the top players onoffense by the BHS coaching staff. They include center GrantMcDonnieal, guards Adam Ogden and Kenneth Fairman, tackles TylerGatlin and James Barker and tight end Michael Thrasher.

Panther Paws: Last year McComb beat thePanthers 14-12 on King Field in Peavey’s first year at the helm.The Tigers took a 14-0 halftime lead before Brookhaven rallied. ThePanthers got field goals of 27 and 37 yards from Dominick DiPaoloand an 80-yard TD pass from Johns to Chatman.