Ole Brook tackles unbeaten West Jones Friday night

Published 6:26 pm Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Brookhaven continues its march of playoff vengeance Friday nighton King Field when the Panthers host the West Jones Mustangs forthe Class 5A South State championship. The Panthers (8-4) hope toavenge a 31-0, regular-season loss to the unbeaten Mustangs (12-0)as they battle for a berth in next weekend’s state championshipgame. Kickoff is 7 p.m. and another large crowd is expected.

Ridgeland plays at West Point Friday night in the North State 5Afinals.

“I hope we are motivated to play hard,” said Ole Brook head coachTucker Peavey. “I know West Jones will be motivated.”

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A traditional bridesmaid in the South State finals, West Jones hasoverpowered all challengers this season. Last year the Mustangswere derailed in their state title quest by archrival Wayne Countyafter beating the War Eagles during the regular season.

BHS eliminated Wayne County 21-14 last Friday night on King Field,going overtime to beat the War Eagles in the second round of thestate playoffs. West Jones eliminated Vancleave 25-7.

Peavey said he expects his Panthers to have their hands full Fridaynight when they host the undefeated and top-ranked Mustangs. “WestJones has speed and they are very aggressive on defense. Every oneof them can run. They read the keys and get there in ahurry.”

West Jones only has given up 80 points in 12 games, prompting morepraise from Peavey. “They have a bunch of good players on defense.They are good everywhere.”

Offensively, the Mustangs are directed by senior quarterback BenStevens (6-0, 180). He has passed for over 2,300 yards and 26touchdowns.

Primary receivers for the Mustangs are D.J. Robinson and XavierHilton and Kendrick McKellar. Robinson has 389 catches for 734yards and 11 TDs. Hilton has 67 catches for 724 yards and 7 TDs.McKellar has 37 receptions for 477 yards and 2 TDs.

“The strength of their offense is the throwing and catching,” saidPeavey. “They also have two good running backs.”

Peavey was referring to Devontay Barnett (494 yards, 10 TDs) andErvin Gavin (254 yards, 6 TDs).

Hunter Estess, a strong-legged junior, gives the Mustangs anadditional scoring threat. “They have a kicker who can kick it inthe end zone.”

Asked about his overall game plan, Peavey said, “We must be able tomove the ball on offense and keep their passing game on thesidelines. We have to manufacture some points. Defensively, we needto keep pressure on their quarterback.”

Earlier Meeting Reviewed

In the Sept. 24 game at Soso, Stevens passed 27 yards to Hilton fora touchdown and ran 9 yards for another. Darius Moffett and Gavinran for touchdowns and Estess kicked a 42-yard field goal, plus 4extra points.

The Panthers were limited to 109 yards total offense. Due to ashoulder injury suffered three weeks earlier against Clinton, BHSsenior quarterback Duwone Harris played sparingly and his backup,Devonte Stewart, was injured during the game.

Pierson Respects Panthers

West Jones coach Scott Pierson has watched the Panthers eliminatetwo favorites in consecutive playoff games. He expects to see amuch-improved team Friday night.

“The first time, we played them, their quarterback (Harris) wasn’thealthy. His presence makes them a totally different ballteam.”

Pierson said he has been impressed by the Panthers’ playoff winsover Long Beach and Wayne County. “Brookhaven is battled-tested andthey find ways to win. They have won the last two weeks and builtcharacter.”

Asked to describe his team’s defense, Pierson said,

“Our defense just runs to the football. We don’t have any divisionone players over the ball.”

Pearson’s teams have made the South State finals five of the lastnine years. They are hungry for a state title and so are theirdevoted fans. “We are not looking past this one.”

Like Peavey, Pearson is in his ninth year at the helm. They coachedtogether in the Mississippi All-Star game in 2008, in the Decemberversion.