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Ole Brook Panthers invade S. Pike

Picked to finish 1-2 in a preseason poll of Region 6-4A coaches,the Brookhaven Panthers and South Pike Eagles have been keeping awary eye on each other during the 2004 campaign. They compareskills Friday night in Magnolia. Kickoff is 7:30 on ColeeField.

South Pike (7-0, 3-0) is ranked No. 7 in the latest AssociatedPress Prep Poll. The Eagles have overwhelmed most of theiropponents this season. They began the campaign with a 59-0 thumpingof North Pike and followed that with wins over Class 5A foesNatchez, 54-18; Warren Central 24-22 and Vicksburg 30-20; plus 4Awins over Lawrence County 42-14, Terry 54-13 and Wingfield34-0.

Under the direction of second-year head coach Randall Huffman,the Eagles have displayed outstanding skills on offense anddefense. Blessed with breakaway speed, they have left mostopponents behind, eating their dust.

“Any time you see a team that scores with its kicking teams, ondefense and offense, it means they have good athletes with lots ofspeed,” said Brookhaven head coach Tucker Peavey. “Offensively,they use misdirection and quick openings. They motion wings and runthe option. They make you defend a lot of different things.”

Quarterbacking the Eagles is Kelsey Island (5-10, 205, jr.), atalented signal-caller who can run and throw the football.

“Island does a good job,” said Peavey. “He runs the offensewell. He’s a good passer. He can tuck the ball and run it,too.”

South Pike’s defense also impresses Peavey. “They have realathletic linemen. People don’t make long plays against them.”

Directing the Eagle defense is linebacker DeWayne Pittman (5-10,185, jr.) who wears jersey No. 28. “Pittman is everywhere on thefield,” said Peavey.

Peavey’s Panthers have won five straight games since an overtimeloss at Vicksburg in the second game of the season. He believes histeam is steadily improving, especially the offensive line. “They’reworking more as a unit.”

What will it take to beat South Pike?

Peavey answered, “We can’t give up big plays to their offense.We have to control the football offensively, keep it away fromthem.”

Quarterback Jimmy Johns will direct Brookhaven’s offense. RonnyMcNulty will start at running back after missing last week’s gameat Terry due to a shoulder injury.

Bud Chatman, Taurean Jones and Brandt Hinton will work at widereceiver and Michael Thrasher at tight end. In the offensive line,Grant McDonnieal will be at center, flanked by guards Tyler Gatlinand Aaron Moore and tackles Zach Ray and Cody Smith.

Will Thibodeaux will handle kickoffs and extra points. Hintonwill punt.

On defense, Ole Brook’s line features Richard Alvarado and BartSias at end, Jessie Bowman and Virgil Sanders at tackle.Linebackers are Eric Edwards, Marlon Dixon and Darius Perkins.Orlandus Chapman is the strong safety and R.J. Jenkins is freesafety. Cornerbacks are Anthony Caffie and Jerome Avery.

Caffie was named The DAILY LEADER’s Defensive Player of the Weekafter intercepting 2 passes and making 7 tackles in Brookhaven’s48-6 win over Terry. Sophomore running back Charles Wilson rushedfor 190 yards and a touchdown against Terry, earning him DLOffensive Player of the Week honors.

Panther Paws: Last year Brookhaven beat SouthPike 40-21 on King Field as McNulty rushed for 135 yards and 3touchdowns. Johns passed for 179 yards and a TD, plus rushing for66 yards and a score.