BHS hosts Hazlehurst in opener

Published 5:00 am Thursday, August 26, 2004

With hopes as high as the sky, the Brookhaven Panthers kick offtheir 2004 season Friday night, hosting the Hazlehurst Indians.Kickoff is 7 p.m. on King Field and a large crowd isanticipated.

Coach Tucker Peavey’s Panthers were ranked No. 4 in TheAssociated Press Preseason Poll. A Jackson newspaper ranked themNo. 1 in the preseason. In another poll, has thePanthers ranked No. 48 in the nation.

Brookhaven was the runaway favorite to repeat as Region 6-4Achampion, according to The DAILY LEADER’s preseason poll of regioncoaches. Peavey said he appreciated the recognition but how a teamwound up at the end of the season was what really counted.

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“Hopefully, we can focus on the game and treat it as every otherFriday night,” said Peavey. “You have to take it one game at atime.”

The Panthers have been in preseason practice since Aug. 2.Senior members of the team were featured on the cover of theJackson Clarion-Ledger’s preseason football tab.

Peavey said his Panthers have worked hard during preseasondrills. “We are in pretty good shape. The kids are ready to play agame.”

Enthusiasm and fan support achieved a new high last season asthe Panthers advanced to the second round of the state playoffs.They lost a close decision to eventual state state champion WayneCounty in the second round.

Season ticket sales are up and 50 more reserved, chairback seatshave been installed.

“We’ve had great support so I hope it continues,” said Peavey.”It means a lot to the players.”

Peavey, starting his third year at the helm, released thestarting lineup for Friday ‘s game. Starting in the backfield forthe Panthers are Jimmy Johns (6-3, 224, sr.) at quarterback, RonnyMcNulty (5-7, 156, sr.) at running back. At wide receiver areTaurean Jones (6-2, 170, sr.), Brandt Hinton (6-3, 180, jr.) andBud Chatman (6-4, 232, sr.) at wide receiver.

Tight end is Michael Thrasher (6-3, 250, sr.). Also up front areright tackle Cody Smith (6-2, 268, sr.), right guard Tyler Gatlin(6-2, 262, sr.), center Grant McDonnieal (6-1, 248, sr.), leftguard Aaron Moore,(5-11, 194, sr.) and left tackle Zach Ray (6-3,305, sr.).

Placekicking is Will Thibodeaux (5-10,140, soph.). DariusPerkins (6-3, 243, sr.) is the long snapper. Hinton will handle thepunting.

On defense, the ends are Varius Kees (5-10,210, jr.) and Bart Sias (6-0, 215, soph.). Tackles are JessieBowman (6-1, 308, sr.) and Virgil Sanders (5-8, 244, soph.).

Starting at linebacker are Eric Edwards (5-10, 205, sr.), MarlonDixon (5-10, 190, jr.) and Perkins.

At strong safety is Orlandus Chapman (6-1,165, jr.). The freesafety is R.J. Jenkins (6-0, 145, soph.). Cornerbacks are AnthonyCaffie (5-7, 155, jr.), T.J. Qualls (5-8, 186, jr.) and JeromeAvery (5-7, 150, jr.).

Johns and Bowman were preseason all-state selections. Johnspassed and ran for over 2,200 yards last season, accounting for 25touchdowns. Bowman accumulated 100 tackles and 7 quarterbacksacks.

Hazlehurst, coached by Willie Brown, hosted a jamboree lastFriday and Peavey was able to scout the Indians. Last year theIndians advanced to the third round of the Class 3A state playoffsand finished 9-3.

“I think Hazlehurst will be the typical team with a lot of teamspeed,” said Peavey. “They play hard and are well-coached.”

Peavey said, the Indians “have some strong linebackers andreceivers who are exceptional athletes. They have some guys who cango get the ball.”

Hazlehurst is led by junior linebacker Johnny Sanders (6-2, 190)who had 112 tackles and 5 sacks last season. Senior wide receiverDemond Carroll (6-4, 190) caught 29 passes for 457 yards and 7TDs.

Panther Paws: Last year Brookhaven eludedHazlehurst 12-8. Under new high school rules, the head coach cancall a timeout instead of relying on players to notify thereferee.