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Laurel visits BHS homecoming

LAUREL — Like a fierce storm, the Laurel Golden Tornadoes areunpredictable at best. The Tornadoes (4-3-1) invade King FieldFriday night for Brookhaven’s homecoming celebration. Kickoff is 7p.m.

Brookhaven head coach Tucker Peavey said his Panthers can’tafford a letdown after beating South Pike 28-21 in overtime lastweek at Magnolia in a Region 6-4A showdown. “Laurel is very similarto last year. They have a lot of good skill players. They havegood-sized offensive linemen.”

Coached by Chris Gale, the Tornadoes edged Forrest County AHS10-7 last week at Laurel. The Tornadoes opened their season with a21-7 loss to West Jones. They beat Hattiesburg 27-19 the next weekand tied Meridian 14-14 before losing to Petal 14-0, George County23-6 and Pearl River Central 35-14. They regrouped and beat StoneCounty 21-14 two weeks ago on a late touchdown.

Laurel quarterback Xavier Davis (6-0, 170, soph.) runs andthrows the ball well. “He’s a really good athlete,” said CoachGale. “His only problem is being a 10th grader.”

At running back Jermain McCoy (5-7, 145, jr.) and Marcus Cooper(6-0, 250, sr.) are the leaders. Kenny Horne (6-0, 180, sr.),Daniel Heidelberg (6-1, 170, sr.) and Jason House (6-0, 175, jr.)are the wide receivers and the tight end is Brett Barlow (6-1, 215,sr.).

Guard Audreousa Rhodes (5-11, 280, sr.) leads the offensiveline.

Laurel’s placekicker is P.J. Harvey. The punter, Tyler Caldwell,also kicks off.

On defense, linebacker D.J. Bolton (6-1, 220, jr.) leads Laurel.Cooper also stars at linebacker.

On the line, Xavier Combest (5-9, 175, sr.) is an outstandingdefensive. end.

Asked for his observations on the Panthers, Gale said,”Brookhaven is monstrous. I don’t know how in the devil you can getthat many good-looking athletes on one team at the same time.They’re the most talented team we’ll play.”

Gale, former defensive coordinator at Laurel, is in his firstyear at the helm, replacing Buddy Duke who went to Hattiesburg. AVicksburg product, Gale is in his sixth year at Laurel.

Brookhaven senior defensive tackle Jessie Bowman caught Gale’sattention on game films.

“The person who impresses me the most is Bowman,” said Gale.”He’s a terror on defense. They have a big front line and all ofthem can run.”

Bowman and quarterback Jimmy Johns were preseason all-stateselections. Gale said, “Jimmy Johns is big and fast. He has acannon for and arm but he has a fine touch.”

Peavey’s Panthers have won 6 straight games since an overtimeloss at Vicksburg. They are ranked No. 8 in this week’s AssociatedPress Prep Poll.

Although Laurel is a non-region test, Peavey said his Panthers(7-1, 5-0) must focus on the task at hand. “We have to play thenext game. We can’t overlook them. It’s another opportunity to wina game.”

Against South Pike, senior running back Ronny McNulty sustaineda fracture in his left ankle early in the fourth quarter. McNultyhas a walking cast on his foot and Peavey said he could besidelined a few weeks.

Sophomore Charles Wilson will replace McNulty in thebackfield.

Three Panthers received team awards for their performanceagainst South Pike. Tackle Virgil Sanders earned defensive honors,accounting for 8 tackles and a quarterback sack. Johns received theoffensive award after scoring all 4 touchdowns and compiling 222yards total offense. Placekicker Will Thibodeaux earned the specialteams award.

Also on defense, linebacker Darius Perkins had 5 tackles, aninterception and a blocked extra point. Bowman had 7 tackles.Anthony Caffie and Orlandas Chapman both had 6 tackles. RichardAlvarado recovered 2 fumbles.

Panther Paws: Last year, Laurel ambushed Brookhaven 20-6 atLaurel.