Johns protected by big linemen

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Brookhaven quarterback Jimmy Johns was delighted to share thepublicity with his offensive line. The DAILY LEADER’s OffensivePlayer of the Week was part of a Tuesday afternoon photo shootwhich featured Johns and Ole Brook’s starting offensive line.

Johns produced his second straight 4-touchdown performanceagainst Laurel’s Golden Tornadoes, helping lead the Panthers to a42-15 homecoming victory on King Field. He completed 5 of 11 passesfor 154 yards and 3 touchdowns. He rushed 12 times for 119 yardsand 1 TD.

“It makes me feel good to see our offensive line getting somepublicity,” said Johns. “It all starts with the offensive line. Wewouldn’t have anything without our offensive line.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“They’re down in the trenches getting dirty on every play,”Johns continued. “They deserve a lot of credit for what I do.”

It’s a senior-laden group blocking for Brookhaven. They includecenter Grant McDonnieal (6-1, 248), guards Tyler Gatlin (6-1, 262)and Kody Perrett (6-2, 268), tackles Aaron Moore (5-11, 194) andZach Ray (6-3, 305) and tight end Michael Thrasher (6-3, 250).

Against Laurel, Johns threw touchdown passes of 73 yards to BudChatman, 25 yards to Taurean Jones and 11 yards to Thrasher.

“Our receivers have made some big plays for us,” said Johns.”Charles Wilson has ran the ball well He scored two touchdownsagainst Laurel.”

Johns said the loss of senior running back Ronny McNulty, in theSouth Pike game two weeks ago, made the Panthers play harder. “Weall had to step it up a notch.”

McNulty sustained a fractured bone in his left ankle and isexpected to be out several weeks. Wilson responded with 127 yardsrushing and 2 touchdowns against Laurel.

Last year’s loss at Laurel had Johns focused on the game. “I hadbeen thinking about last year. I’ve never lost a homecominggame.”

For Johns and the 23 other seniors, homecoming was special.”This was our last one at BHS.”

Having clinched the Region 6-4A championship for a secondstraight year, the Panthers are looking forward to Friday’s finalhome game of the regular season when Lawrence County visits. Thestate playoffs begin Nov. 5, and the Panthers are aiming for astate title.

“The last two years we’ve been knocked out by the eventual statechampion,” said Johns. D’Iberville beat the Panthers in the thirdround two years ago and Wayne County eliminated them in the secondround last year.

“We want six more wins this year,” said Johns. “Our successpoints to our coaches. They have been together with us for threeyears. We are a close group.”

Brookhaven head coach Tucker Peavey has watched Johns matureever since he started at quarterback as a sophomore. He has earnednumerous honors, including The DAILY LEADER’s Player of the Yearaward.

“Jimmy is playing well right now,” said Peavey. “Hopefully, wecan keep it up a while, at least six more weeks.

“We are getting better up front,” said Peavey, referring to theoffensive line. “Obviously, we are making better decisionseverywhere. Jimmy is playing well.”

For the season, Johns has accounted for 1,913 all-purpose yardsand 26 touchdowns. He’s completed 73 of 130 passes for 1,194 yardsand 11 TDs. He’s rushed the football 111 times for 729 yards and 15TDs.

Recruiting interest in Johns continues to grow. His two favoritechoices are Mississippi State and Auburn. Coaches from both schoolskeep in weekly contact with him by telephone.

“I talk to Coach (Don) Dunn of Auburn once a week,” said Johns.”Coach (Shane) Beamer from Mississippi State called me after theFlorida game. I got to talk to all the coaches at State, even Coach(Sylvester) Croom.”

After the season, Johns said he plans to make five officialvisits to universities. State and Auburn top his list, followed byWest Virginia. He may visit LSU and Ole Miss, too.

Johns didn’t go to the homecoming dance last weekend, preferringa quiet night at home. The son of Charles and Patricia Butlerenjoys eating fried catfish, cooked by his “auntie,” LastangelaThomas. His cousin, Zach Thomas, is a former Franklin Countyfootball and basketball star.

In his spare time, Johns likes to follow the New EnglandPatriots, the most successful team in the NFL. He admires TennesseeTitans quarterback Steve McNair and attended his camp last summerat Alcorn State University in Lorman.