South Pike Eagles invade BHS

Published 5:00 am Friday, October 17, 2003

South Pike head football coach Randall Huffman has paced thesidelines at Brookhaven’s King Field for several years as anassistant coach. In his first year at the helm of South Pike’sfootball fortunes, Huffman brings a talented and explosive squad toKing Field for a Region 6-4A Friday night showdown with theBrookhaven Panthers. Kickoff is 7:30 p.m.

Huffman’s Eagles (7-0, 3-0) are unbeaten in seven games andranked No. 5. Huffman, 52, was defensive coordinator for 5 years atBrookhaven before following Coach Greg Wall back to South Pikewhere he served 2 years. Wall retired last winter and Huffman waspromoted to the head job.

“It should go to the wire,” said Huffman. “I anticipate it beinga heckuva ballgame. People will get their money’s worth. Probablybe the biggest crowd we will play in front of.”

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Huffman’s Eagles have whipped seven opponents. Their closesttest was a 21-14 victory over Region 6-4A rival Lawrence County onSept. 26, at Magnolia. The Eagles defeated North Pike 27-0 in theirseason opener and followed with a 47-6 win over Natchez, a 32-9victory over Warren Central, 49-20 win over Vicksburg, a 59-14 winat Terry and a 55-7 smashing of Wingfield last week.

“Our kids are playing hard and they are doing the things we areasking them to do,” said Huffman. “They have been pretty focused onthings.”

Senior running back Jessie Burton (5-9, 163) is South Pike’sleading rusher. He and Quentrelle Green (5-11, 190) have run theball well. Fred (Jones) has done a good job at quarterback.

“Our line has been blocking well,” said Huffman.

“Graduation hurt us on defense,” Huffman pointed out. “The kidswho are playing are young.”

Quarterbacking the Eagles is 3-year starter Fred Jones (5-7,160). Jones runs the Veer with authority.

Huffman said the Panthers are exceptional on defense.”Brookhaven has an outstanding defensive team because they are sostrong and quick. They have the best front four in the state as faras size and agility.”

Asked about South Pike’s defense, Huffman said, “The guy who ledus in rushing last year, Dwayne Pittman; we moved him tolinebacker. He does a good job as a 10th grader.”

Huffman has made other changes to improve the Eagles on defense.He moved Daniel Montgomery, a 2-year starter at defensive tackle,to linebacker. Other leaders are senior Michael Cockerham atdefensive end and sophomore linebacker Tim Brown (5-10, 170).

South Pike’s nose guard is senior Cedric Williams. A standout atdefensive tackle is Artis Varnado.

Huffman said BHS junior quarterback Jimmy Johns is a threat tothrow and run the football. “Johns is outstanding. He doesn’t makemany mistakes on the field.

“They probably have the best offensive line we’ll see. They havetwo running backs in (Ronnie) McNulty and (Dominique) Smith who canbreak it from anywhere on the field.”

Brookhaven’s balance also impresses Huffman. “We want to keepthe ball out of their (offense’s) hands but they play so well ondefense. Anyway you go, you have an uphill climb.”

Coach Tucker Peavey’s 19th-ranked Panthers (6-1, 4-0) have won 5straight games since losing to Vicksburg 55-47 in triple-overtime.Their latest conquest was Terry, a 48-0 homecoming victim.

Johns directed the victory, going 5-for-5 passing for 174 yardsand 2 touchdowns as the Panthers took a 40-0 halftime lead,allowing reserves to mop up the second half. Johns was selected TheDAILY LEADER’s Offensive Player of the Week.

Smith and McNulty rushed 14 and 64 yards respectively fortouchdowns. Ty McKee had a fourth quarter TD.

On defense, the Panthers sparkled as Aljur Herring blocked 2punts and made 7 tackles. Defensive end Phillip Tobias returned afumble 19 yards for a TD and made 4 tackles. Zach Ray and JasonDixon both made 5 tackles. T.J. Qualls intercepted a pass andAnthony Caffie returned a punt 59 yards for a score.

“South Pike is a real good football team,” said Peavey. “Theyhave speed, lots of it. They are fast and quick at all thepositions. They have great schemes on offense and defense and theyplay hard.”

In order to beat South Pike, Peavey said, “On defense, we mustminimize their big plays. Our offense must be consistent and notturn it over.”

In the Terry game, Brookhaven’s team awards went to senior guardAdam Ogden on offense, Herring on special teams and Tobias ondefense.

Panther Paws: Last year South Pike beatBrookhaven 28-14 at Magnolia during the regular season. In thesecond round of the state playoffs, Brookhaven got revenge, winningan epic defensive struggle 2-0 on King Field.