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Panthers kick off spring drills Monday

Brookhaven’s Panthers kick off spring football practice Monday with a new head coach in Tommy Clopton, plus new coordinators on offense and defense. Clopton said he expects around 70 players in grades 9-11 to practice at 2:50 p.m.

Clopton, hired late last month, to replace Wade Henderson, comes to BHS from Wesson, where he served eight years as head coach. Henderson replaced Tucker Peavey last spring and coached the Panthers to a 7-4 worksheet.

Peavey coached the Panthers nine years, leading them to a state championship in 2004. They were Class 5A state runners-up to West Point in 2010.

Clopton said the Panthers have been busy in the weight room prior to starting spring practice. “The kids are working hard. They are excited about getting started.”

According to Mississippi High School Activities Association rules, the first three days of spring practice must be in shorts and t-shirts. The standard rule is five days in shorts and 10 days in pads.

Any type of spring game or jamboree is considered a day in pads.

Former Mendenhall and Franklin County assistant coach Jeremy Loy has been named offensive coordinator, pending official approval by the Brookhaven School Board.

Ron Rushing had accepted the offensive coordinator position at BHS a few days after Clopton was hired but he had a change of heart and decided to remain the head coach at Natchez Cathedral

Clopton said none of the coaches will be recommended until the May board meeting.

Veteran BHS defensive coach Chaz Allen has been promoted to defensive coordinator. He replaces Kelby Bowman who has accepted the position of linebacker coach at Madison Central.

“Chaz is a great person and a great football coach,” said Clopton. “We are excited to  have him as our defensive coordinator.”

Allen also will coach linebackers. Jessie Bowman remains as the defensive line coach.

Chad Leggett will work with the secondary and so will Dustin Lott. Currently, Leggett and Lott are splitting time with the Ole Brook baseball team that is involved in the state playoffs.

Offensively, Sean Gerald will coach the offensive line. Clopton will coach wide receivers in the spring. Loy will be in charge of the running backs and quarterbacks.

Before his resignation, Henderson had scheduled the Panthers for a May 10th jamboree at Florence. Clopton said those plans have changed.

“We have a new staff and head coach,” said Clopton. “We want our players and staff to pick up on a new system before we go and play somebody.”

The 2012 season opener will be a home date against the Lawrence County Cougars, Aug. 24. Lawrence County is under the direction of new head coach David Parker who moved from Grenada to LCHS. Parker was head coach at Morton for several years.

Other new head football coaches in the area are Willie Brumfield at West Lincoln and Brooks Burns at Enterprise. Wesson hasn’t filled its vacancy yet.