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Panthers host Wayne County

Wayne County head coach Marcus Boyles complimented his team’sFriday night opponent. “Brookhaven is the best football team we’veplayed all season.”

Kickoff is 7 p.m. on King Field as the Ole Brook Panthers (11-1)tackle the unbeaten War Eagles (12-0) in the South statesemifinals. Another huge crowd is anticipated.

“I’m sure we’ll have a good crowd,” said Boyles. “It’s a greatatmosphere for a football game.”

His War Eagles have won back-to-back state championships, Class5A in 2002 and 4A in 2003. Boyles is in his fourth year as headcoach. He was an assistant to Bobby Hall for two years prior tothat. Boyles was head coach at Pearl earlier in his career.

What impresses Boyles the most is Ole Brook’s defense. “Whatstands out most to me is their defense because they are reallyplaying great. Their front seven and eight are always around theball. Jessie Bowman is a great defensive lineman. Their two insidelinebackers (Darius Perkins and Eric Edwards) are good and big andthey run well.”

Offensively, the Panthers are led by senior quarterback JimmyJohns who has accounted for 35 touchdowns. He has completed 95 of166 passes for 1,584 yards and 17 TDs. He’s rushed the football for943 yards and 18 TDs.

“Obviously, Johns makes the big plays,” said Boyles. “Brookhavenis a very, very good football team. They are a lot better than theywere last year.”

By comparison, Wayne County lost 9 starters off its statechampionship offense. The top returnee is sophomore quarterbackDrexler Johnson (5-10, 180) who has passed for 2,144 yards and 21TDs. Johnson, also a running threat, has completed 116 of 225passes.

Boyles said he relies on a trio of running backs in their spreadoffense. “Running back is by committee. We are solid thisyear.”

Defense has been Wayne County’s main calling card this season.The War Eagles boast a flock of major college prospects, led byall-state nose guard Jerrell Powe (6-3, 330). At linebacker,seniors Allen McGay (6-2, 225) and Brandon Jordan (5-10 195)provide plenty of tackles.

“Our defense has carried us all year,” said Boyles. “We’ve hadsome growing pains on offense.”

Peavey Praises Eagles

Brookhaven head coach Tucker Peavey praised the War Eagles.”Wayne County is a very good football team. They are veryproductive on offense and very stingy on defense By far, they havethe best combination of size and speed on offense and defense thatwe’ve seen all year.”

Peavey’s Panthers are riding a 10-game victory streak and arefresh from a 34-0 playoff victory at South Jones. They produced 371yards on offense and limited South Jones to just 90 yards.

Johns and Charles Wilson rushed for 2 touchdowns apiece in thevictory. Wilson rushed 24 times for 204 yards. Johns passed for 52yards and rushed for 101.

On defense, the Panthers dominated the Braves. Linebacker EricEdwards had 7 tackles as Ole Brook realized its third straightshutout.

There were no individual Player of the Week awards presented toplayers this week. Peavey said the team shared the awards.

Peavey said senior running back Ronny McNulty might see actionFriday night. McNulty sustained a fractured ankle in the South Pikegame Oct. 15.

Panther Paws: Last year Wayne County escapedKing Field with a 25-20 win. Peavey is asking Ole Brook fans towear red Friday night to show their support for the Panthers.