Panthers squad inspirational in playoff journey

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, December 5, 2010

Unexpected events – whether they be good or bad – stir greatemotions and strong feelings.

The Brookhaven High School Panthers’ extended playoff run,definitely a happy unexpected event given the home team was theunderdog in three earlier playoff games, generated a tremendousamount of community spirit and pride as the Panthers marched intoJackson for Saturday night’s Class 5A state championship gameagainst the West Point Green Wave. Supporters and the community atlarge embraced the season-long rallying cry of “Keep OnSwinging.”

The Panthers fell just short of the championship following ahard-fought game against West Point, who successfully defendedtheir state championship.

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Along the way to Saturday’s title game, a quality Panthers teamovercame injuries, adversity and a schedule that even the mostardent of supporters would deem difficult. A 6-4 regular seasonrecord, good enough to get the team into the playoffs, was seen asa noteworthy accomplishment.

Once in the playoffs, the constant swings yielded great hits in theform of three playoff victories over favored opponents. Insuccession, Long Beach, Wayne County and West Jones went down forthe count against the Panthers.

Inspiring the Panthers in their epic quest was the memory of SawyerDyess, a sophomore linebacker who was killed in an automobileaccident in July. Players wore an “SD” on their helmets and Dyess’number, 53, was painted the corners of the King Field endzones.

As the Panthers look back on their season, so too can Brookhavenjoin in the excitement of an improbable and inspirational playoffrun made possible by a united group of dedicated and hard-workingplayers and coaches.