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Panthers in homecoming

Homecoming for the Brookhaven Panthers arrives Friday, completewith all the pageantry that surrounds BHS tradition. The seriouspart arrives at 7 p.m., when the Panthers kick it off against thePort Gibson Blue Waves in a Region 6-4A contest.

Every game is a must-win situation for the Ole Brook Pantherswho are 4-2 overall and 3-1 in the region race, 1 game behindLawrence County (6-1, 4-0). The region champion and runner-up willhost opening round state playoff games which begin Nov. 7. The No.3 and No. 4 teams must play their openers on the road against theNo. 1 and No. 2 teams out of Region 8-4A which comprises the GulfCoast area.

Ole Brook head coach Tucker Peavey said his team’s last 2 gamesare both region tests. “We want to try and win them one at atime.”

The Panthers will have an open date Oct. 24 before concludingregular season play at Florence, Oct. 31.

Peavey said he and his team aren’t too involved with pregamehomecoming festivities. “The football players really don’t do muchwith it. We have a big job to do, win our homecoming game.”

Port Gibson (0-6, 0-3), a traditional region doormat, is in thedepths of a rebuilding and learning season under new head coachWillie Brown who coached Hazlehurst to a Class 3A statechampionship in 2005. Brown, a former DAILY LEADER All-Area Coachof the Year in ’05, left Hazlehurst and spent 2 seasons coaching atGreenville with limited success.

“Port Gibson has some talent but they need more players,” saidPeavey. “It will take Coach Brown a while to turn it around. He’s agood coach.”

Peavey said the Waves use a Wing-T formation on offense. “Theyrun a lot of motions and some spread type formations, too.”

On defense, Port Gibson employs a base defense.

“Then they start blitzing people,” said Peavey. “They run thoselinebackers inside a good bit.”

Peavey’s Panthers are fresh from a 31-21 victory at Forest Hill,handing the Rebels (5-2, 2-1) their first region loss of theseason. They capitalized on 6 Rebel turnovers and a strong rushingperformance by junior running back Semmie Smith who ran for 170yards and 3 touchdowns.

For BHS, Players of the Week were lineman Cordai Henderson andlinebacker Jacoby Cooper on defense. Smith on offense and ChrisLowman on special teams.

Lowman kicked a 23-yard, fourth-quarter field goal to cement thewin. Linebacker Renaldo Epps returned a Forest Hill fumble 45 yardsfor a touchdown.

Henderson was credited with 10 tackles, including 7 solo stops,1 quarterback sack and 2 caused fumbles. Cooper made 9 tackles.Epps had 6 tackles. Sophomore safety Devonte Stewart intercepted 2passes.

Senior linebacker Chavon Middleton accounted for a career-high15 tackles despite a sprained right knee. He was selected The DAILYLEADER’S Defensive Player of the Week.

Panther Paws: Last year BHS shut out Port Gibson 24-0 as Smithrushed for 239 yards and 2 touchdowns. Bud Britt also scored a TDand Lowman kicked a 20-yard field goal, giving Peavey his 50thcareer victory at BHS.

Peavey is a 1980 BHS graduate who later played forCopiah-Lincoln Community College. In 1979, Peavey’s finalhomecoming, the Panthers lost to Clarksdale 23-21. Les Bumgarnercoached the Panthers to a 4-6 record that season.