Panthers make progress

Published 8:00 pm Sunday, May 6, 2012

Ask Tommy Clopton about Brookhaven High’s progress in spring football practice and he provides a satisfied smile. It has been a learning experience for Clopton, his assistant coaches and the players who are becoming acquainted with the new regime.

     “It’s been hot this week but the players have responded,” said Clopton. “They have shown a lot of energy and they’re working hard.”

     Clopton, 38, was hired April 27 to replace Wade Henderson who resigned after one year at the helm. The Panthers finished 7-4 and advanced to the Class 5A state playoffs, falling to Long Beach in the opening round.

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     Clopton moved to BHS from Wesson, where he served eight years as head coach. His new team is learning about a new boss, plus two new coordinators: Chaz Allen on defense and Jeremy Loy on offense.

     Allen replaced Kelby Bowman who has accepted a position of linebackers coach at Madison Central. Allen coached BHS linebackers last season. Loy comes to BHS after coaching at Mendenhall.

     “Our coordinators have done a great job,” said Clopton. “Coach Loy has jumped right in. The kids are excited about the offense and they are working well with him.”

     Also on staff are Jessie Bowman, defensive line; Chad Leggett and Dustin Lott, defensive secondary; and Sean Gerald, offensive line. Anjan Karmacharya coaches the kickers and punters.

     Clopton said the Panthers have talent and ambition. “This group is aggressive. They are fast and physical. They have high motors and that makes them fun to be around.”

     On offense, the Panthers have two veteran quarterbacks returning in Zach Smith and Fred Trevillion, a rising junior. Smith, a rising senior, played baseball the first week of spring practice and Trevillion took most of the snaps.

     “We feel very solid at quarterback,” said Clopton. “Fred has had most of the reps in the spring. He has the ability to score.

     “Zach understands the game and has a good arm. They give us a really good bunch. They will require opponents something else to prepare for.”

     Trevillion also worked as a wide receiver last season. Jevonte’ Trevillion, J.J. Stepney, Jermaine Kelly and Dusty Parks also have shown potential at receiver.

     At tight end, Austin Montgomery and Genoa Sartin are sharing time.

     In the offensive line, center Greg McNulty, and tackles B.J. Robinson and Rashun Smith are the veterans. At guard, Anthony Wilson and Keefa Nelson are the leaders.

     Running back is anchored by rising senior Justin Blue. Trey McDaniel and Damarius Newton have shown breakaway speed.

     Rising senior Noah Allen, strictly a soccer team member in the past, is the heir apparent to replace punter/placekicker Stephen Davey. Clopton said, “Noah Allen is solid. He has a strong leg.”

     On defense, several vacancies must be filled. All-state end Jaboree Poole and tackle Josh Thomas are veterans on the defensive line. Leo Lewis and Darius O’Quinn are leaders in the line.

     At linebacker, Tyris Hill, Marcus Coleman and Sheim Brumfield are returning starters. Chris Calcote is a leader at that position.

     In the secondary, Dontraye Smith, Billy Thomas and Rahjavian Fox have shown promise at cornerback. Jonah Hill returns at strong safety.

     “Jaboree Poole, Greg McNulty and Justin Blue have shown good senior leadership for us,” said Clopton.

     Six senior members of the 2011 BHS team signed college football scholarships. Linebacker Kalen Calcote and defensive lineman Theavis Cooper signed with Alcorn State University. All-state cornerback Greg Sims, all-star wide receiver Ross Hill and offensive linemen Steven Hudson and Codi Winters signed with Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

     Clopton said he plans to conclude spring practice Wednesday. Following an extensive summer workout regimen, the Panthers begin  preseason practice July 30. Their first game is Aug. 24, when they host Lawrence County.