Area fans get football fever

Published 5:00 am Monday, August 31, 2009

Are you ready for some football?

Area football fans have caught the fever. And unless you’retalking about pigskin, it has nothing to do with the swine flu.

For some it’s the full contact of the sport, for some it’s thesmell of the grill, and for some, it’s a way of life.

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For former Brookhaven High School Panther James Brown, BHSfootball isn’t just a sport: it’s a teaching tool, a bondingelement and something his sons already look forward to.

“I love football,” Brown said as he and his sons Deontrei, 11,and Jalin, 5, watched the Panthers’ Friday night victory overFranklin County High School. “It’s in our blood. It’s a fun sport,it’s the contact … it’s just all of it.”

Pressed against the fence where they could be closer to theaction, Brown would explain to his boys what they’d just seen ineach play, and they’d nod their understanding just in time for thenext snap.

And between watching the game on the field and takinginstruction from their father, his sons agreed.

“I’m gonna be an outside linebacker for the Panthers, number10,” said Jalin. “I’ve been playing around the house with mybrother. I’ll grab his leg and tackle him – poof!”

Deontrei, who goes to Lipsey and plays for the white team inpee-wee football, said he’s got big plans to play for BHS too.

“I want to be a defensive back for the Panthers,” he said. “Ilike it because it’s a contact sport. I’ve loved football since Iwas four.”

The Browns were not the only football fanatics who werecelebrating the return to action for all area teams Friday night.At Enterprise, the Yellow Jackets were hosting their season-openeragainst the Bogue Chitto Bobcats, who started their season lastweekend.

Bogue Chitto fan Patricia Moak said she’s followed Bogue Chittofootball since she was in high school, and she graduated in1971.

“We’ve got a young team this year,” she said, adding that if shehadn’t been a fan so long, she still might be a little biased. “Myson’s one of the coaches.”

It’s all in the family for the Moaks too. Patricia Moak’sgranddaughter Randi Moak said they all like to turn out to supporttheir alma mater.

“It’s where we all grew up,” she said. “We all went to schoolthere.”

And across the field from the Moaks, Jeremy Hannah supported thehome team.

“This is my sport, and it’s my school,” the 2009 EnterpriseAttendance Center graduate said. “I’m just a football fan, and I’mvery excited about the start of football season, especially sinceI’m not playing anymore.”

For some families and fans, part of the fun of football is theritual.

“Oh yeah, I wear my lucky jacket to every game, and if it’s toohot I just carry it with me,” said BHS fan Jerry Jackson. “I got tosupport my Panthers.”

Meanwhile, Toy Simpson said she attends all the Bogue Chittogames with her husband Jerry. She said it’s not unusual for her tospend a whole day away from her business cleaning job getting readyfor the event.

“We get really anxious,” she said. “I change my job schedule.I’ll take off all day Friday to make sure I’m ready for thegame.”

And a group of BHS students painted the word “Panthers” on theirchests, one letter at a time, and cheered their team on to victory.For them, it’s just another way to celebrate the advent of theseason, as well as just have a little fun.

Sophomore J.B. Perkins, who wore a paw painted on his chest inred and white and the rest of his “shirt” painted on in blue, jokedwith a passer-by about the group’s festive and fanaticwardrobes.

“Can you tell mine’s a V-neck?” he said with a laugh.