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South Jones awaits Panthers

South Jones coach David Hopper hopes his Braves can maintainpossession of the football Friday night and keep Brookhaven’shigh-octane offense off the field. Hopper’s Braves host thePanthers in the second round of the Class 4A state playoffs.Kickoff is 7 p.m., in Ellisville.

In other South state 4A playoffs games tomorrow night, Laurelinvades Wayne County, South Pike visits St. Stanislaus at Bay St.Louis and West Jones is at George County.

South Jones (6-5) is fresh from a 17-6 playoff win at Gautier.The Braves intercepted 4 passes in the victory.

“Our defense has played well the last five games of the season,”said Hopper. “Laurel only had four first downs,” in a season-ending7-3 loss to Laurel

South Jones starts 10 seniors on defense. Michael Hodges (6-0,210, sr.) leads the Braves at linebacker.

On offense, the Braves are led by Jarvis Roberts (5-10, 175,sr.), the team’s leading rusher with over 1,000 yards this season.He gained 186 yards in the victory at Gautier.

Quarterback Petey Thigpen (5-5, 165, sr.) runs the South Jonesoffense. Thigpen had been starting at fullback before quarterbackAndre Jones sustained a knee injury against Laurel.

“We try to keep our defense off the field,” said Hopper. Hereplaced former Lawrence County coach Danny Adams at the helm lastyear. Hopper had been on the SJ staff for eight years. The Braveswere 2-8 last season.

Asked about his impressions of the Ole Brook Panthers, Hoppersaid, “Brookhaven is by far the best football team we’ve playedthis year. I think they’re better than West Jones and GeorgeCounty. They have weapons all over the field.

“We hope they turn the ball over,” said Hopper. “If they don’t,it could be a long night.”

Three players kick for the Braves. Wilson Bounds kicks extrapoints. Miguel Hernandez handles field goals and kicks off. Thepunter is Michael Hodges.

BHS Must Stop Braves

Brookhaven head coach Tucker Peavey said his Panthers must stopthe South Jones running game. “South Jones has a ball-controloffense. They use a lot of power plays. They also run theoption.

“They run some straight T and then they do some I,” Peaveycontinued. “They even get in two little wings and run their option.They have good size on both sides of the line of scrimmage.”

Peavey said the Panthers would see an assortment of defensivestunts. “Defensively, they do a lot of blitzing. They don’t letpeople get behind them.”

He said South Jones nose guard (Kyle Chittenden) is prettymobile. “They have a couple of linebackers, Cade Williamson andBlake Thompson who play well.”

Peavey said his Panthers are in good shape physically, with theexception of a few bumps and bruises. He said senior running backRonny McNulty will miss another game due to the ankle fracturesustained in the South Pike game four weeks ago.

The winner of tomorrow night’s game will play the winner of theWayne County-Laurel game on Nov. 19, in the South semifinals.

“You can’t underestimate anybody,” Peavey stressed. “When yourelax, you end up regretting it. You have to play every game likeit will be your last one.”

Peavey’s Panthers (10-1) are riding a 9-game victory string andare ranked No. 7 in the latest Associated Press Prep Poll. Theywhipped Mendenhall 42-0 in last week’s opening round as quarterbackJimmy Johns completed 12 of 15 passes for 214 yards and 4touchdowns.

Senior wide receiver Bud Chatman caught 2 touchdown passes.Montral Smith caught a 70-yard TD pass and Taurean Jones had a25-yard TD reception.

Johns also rushed for 1 TD. Sophomore running back CharlesWilson gained 104 yards and scored 1 TD in the victory.

On defense, the Panthers dominated Mendenhall, limiting theTigers to just 136 yards total offense, all on the ground. TheTigers had 5 turnovers. Safety R.J. Jenkins intercepted 2passes.

Tackle Jessie Bowman led the Panthers with 5 solo tackles and 3assists. Linebacker Darius Perkins had 10 tackles, including 4 solostops. Bart Sias had 8 tackles and Richard Alvarado 7.

Brookhaven’s Players of the Week for the Mendenhall game wereSias on defense, Michael Thrasher on offense and Frank Edwards onspecial teams.

Panther Paws: Last year Brookhaven lost tostate champion Wayne County in the second round of the stateplayoffs. In 2002, the Panthers were eliminated by D’Iberville, theeventual state champion, in the third round.