West Jones invades Brook
Giant-killer West Jones seeks another major conquest Fridaynight when the Mustangs invade King Field for the opening round ofthe Class 4A state football playoffs to challenge the BrookhavenPanthers. West Jones (7-3) is fresh from a 9-6 victory over WayneCounty, the defending 4A state champion. The loss eliminated WayneCounty from the playoffs and granted the Mustangs No. 4 seeding outof Region 5-4A.
By comparison, the Panthers have cruised to an 8-1 record andfinished unbeaten in Region 6-4A at 6-0. The 7 p.m. contest willfeature Brookhaven’s high-octane offense versus the stingy WestJones defense which allows 12.5 points per game. Brookhavenaverages 25.2 ppg offensively and allows 14.6 ppg on defense.
The West Jones defense impresses Ole Brook head coach TuckerPeavey. “They have given up the fewest points of anybody in theirdistrict. Their defensive front is very physical. They hustle andfly around. Their linebackers are extremely fast. They are verysound in the secondary, too.”
Of particular interest was West Jones linebacker Marcus Pierce(5-11, 180, sr.) and tackle Josh Suggs (6-3, 260, sr.), twodefensive leaders.
“Number 22 (Pierce) seems to be everywhere. He’s a good playerand he also plays some running back.”
Offensively, the Mustangs run out of a spread and shotgunformation. At the controls is quarterback Chase Headrick (5-11,170, sr.). Headrick’s favorite receiver is speedster Tyler Gardner(6-2, 185, sr.).
“Their quarterback , No. 6, is similar to the Florencequarterback (Hunter Thompson),” said Peavey. “He throws the ballwell.” Headrick has passes for 1,016 yards and 18 touchdowns.
At running back, Dexter Brown (6-0, 185, sr.) and RodrickMcCullum (6-1, 185, jr.) are the main runners. Brown has 473 yardsrushing and 4 touchdonws. McCullum has 399 yards and 3 TDs. HunterJefcoat (6-1, 180, sr.) is the leading receiver at slot back.
West Jones also owns a standout placekicker in Adam Herrington(5-9, 165, jr.). He kicked a 42-yard field goal with 44 secondsleft to play, lifting the Mustangs over Wayne County as 7,000 fanswatched the thriller.
Peavey said the Panthers must play extremely well to beat WestJones. “We need to be at the top of our game.”
Starting on offense for the Panthers are quarterback Charles(Bobo) Rancifer, running back Semmie Smith, tight end Bud Britt,and wideouts Simmie Yarborough. Duwone Harris and Marcus McGee.
In the offensive line are center Darrion Smith, left guardJonathan Buie, left tackle Grady Autman, right guard Quartez Lyonsand right tackle Derrick Henderson.
The team’s punter is Britt and the placekicker is Chris Lowman.Kicking off is Dennis Harris.
Rancifer has accounted for 1,418 total yards and 12 touchdowns.Smith has rushed for 1,354 yards and 11 TDs. Yarborough has 23catches for 393 yards and 5 TDs, including a pair of scores againstFlorence in last Friday’s 48-20 triumph.
Starting on defense for the Panthers are LaTerrius Williams andJoseph Owens at end, Cordai Henderson and Laramie Green at tackle.The linebackers are Jarvis Wilbert Dennis Harris and ChavonMiddleton. In the secondary, Jewaun Washington is at strong safetyand Jake Williams is at free safety. Victor Bailey and KeyondrayPowell are at cornerback.
Against Florence, Williams directed the Panthers on defense with8 tackles and 2 quarterback sacks and a pass deflection. Wilbertand Bailey each had 5 tackles. Middleton had 4 tackles and a passinterception.
West Jones Mustangs
West Jones head coach Scott Pierson described his defense as “ascrappy bunch. They run to the football.”
Pierson is in his sixth year as head coach at West Jones. ARhode Island native, he grew up in a military family and graduatedfrom high school in Gulf Breeze, Fla. He also graduated fromSouthern Miss.
Asked about Brookhaven, Pierson praised the Panthers, especiallythe offense. “They have the best skill players we have seen allyear. Their quarterback, tailback and wideouts are the best we’veseen.”
Pierson said defense would be the key to his team’s success orfailure. “It will be a real big challenge for us defensively tokeep them from scoring too many points. They’re going to scoresome. They’re too good not to score.”
He vividly remembers his team’s last encounter with BHS. It was2004 when the Panthers beat the Mustangs 28–14 Nov. 26, in theSouth State finals at Soso. BHS defeated Clarksdale the next weekfor the state title and finished 14-1.
In other Region 6 versus Region 6-4A action Friday night,Lawrence County hosts Northeast Lauderdale, McComb visits NortheastJones and Florence is at Laurel.
Panther Paws: Peavey and his wife Leah Ann arethe proud grandparents of Tucker Davis Landry who arrived Wednesdaymorning in Pineville, La. He tipped the scales at 8 pounds, 8ounces.