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Johns, Chatman, Bowman, McDonnieal want all-star win

Jimmy Johns, Grant McDonnieal, Jessie Bowman and Bud Chatmanhelped lead the Brookhaven Panthers to a Class 4A state footballchampionship in 2004. The quartet’s latest goal is leadingMississippi to a Saturday night victory over Alabama in the 18thAnnual All-Star Football Classic.

Kickoff is 7 p.m., in Mobile, Ala., in Ladd-Peebles MemorialStadium. The game will be televised on FSN South.

All-Star practice officially began Monday, Memorial Day. TheMississippi squad is under the direction of South Panola head coachRicky Woods.

Bowman (6-1, 305), an all-state defensivetackle, is ready to see his team end a 7-year losing streak toAlabama. “We have a score to settle. We want to shut them out andbring home a win.”

Bowman said he is working at a similar position this week. “Weare running a five front, a 50 and a 52. I’m playing attackle.”

Jerrell Powe (6-3,335) of Wayne County is a nose guard. LouisEllis (6-3, 290) of Lanier is at the other tackle.

“I think we have a good team,” said Bowman. “We know what’sgoing on. We have a good defense and we are swarming to theball.”

McDonnieal (6-1, 248) was an alternate for the game but he waselevated when center Josh McNeil of Collins elected to enroll earlyat Tennessee. He said the offensive line was working well togetherand Johns was familiar with his center snaps

“We’re making a lot of snaps,” said McDonnieal. “I thinkwe are doing good. All of our linemen are real big. They make melook real little.

Asked about the offense, McDonnieal said, “We want tomix it up. Run the ball and throw it a little bit.”

Chatman (6-5, 225), an all-star wide receiver, will joinMcDonnieal and Bowman on scholarship at Co-Lin. Chatman said he wasready to play. “I’ve been running a lot. I’m looking forward towinning that game.,

Describing the all-star team, Chatman said, “I feel wehave one of the best groups to play in the game. We have speed andstrength. We are looking forward to Saturday night. Jimmy islooking good. He’s throwing accurate.”

Chatman said he was told Brookhaven would bring a largecrowd to Mobile. “A lot of people said they arecoming.”

Johns (6-3, 225), an Alabama signee, has received agenerous portion of media coverage this week. He was recognized asMr. Football in Mississippi and Player of the Year.

“I’m having a ball, a lot of fun,” said Johns. “I’vebeen on the front page of the paper and on television,too.”

The team went to the movies Tuesday and went bowlingWednesday night. They attended a party on the USS Alabamabattleship Thursday night.

Johns said having McDonnieal handle the center snaps wasa bonus. “It helps to have Grant here. The quarterback-centerexchange is very important.”

Johns and Wesley Beardain (6-1, 190) of Winona areworking at quarterback this week.

“We are doing real well on offense,” said Johns. “Bud iscatching the ball. Co-Eric Riley (wide receiver from George County)is doing well.”

Johns said his sore hamstring was healthy but he had anice pack on his shoulder Thursday afternoon. During practice he hada bone-jarring collision with defensive back Eddie Hicks ofClarksdale. “He’s got a sore leg,” said Johns.

Mississippi head coach Ricky Woods of South Panola has agame plan which suits Johns. “We are going to do a lot of stuff, alot of play-action.”

Johns said he would have plenty of large linemenblocking for him. “Our offensive line is big. They average about300 pounds.”

After a brief period of relaxation in Brookhaven, the18-year-old Johns leaves June 20 for summer school at Alabama.He’ll take one or two courses and participate in some informalpractice sessions with other Crimson Tide players.

“I want to play as a freshman,” said Johns.