Heroes take flight Saturday night

Published 8:00 pm Friday, June 1, 2012

Those experiencing football withdrawals do not have to wait until August to get their fix.

     On Saturday night at Brookhaven High School’s King Field, the Tri-County Heroes minor league football team will take the field for their inaugural game.

      Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. between the Heroes and the Pike County Ironhorse. Admission will be $6.

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     Heroes Head Coach Phil Campbell said those attending should expect to see an entertaining game.

     “The spectators that come to this game will see a great football game,” he said.

     Campbell said the team will run a blended West Coast offense with former BHS star and state Mr. Football Jimmy Johns at quarterback and linebacker. The defensive unit will feature a 3-4 alignment, and Campbell said they plan to pressure opposing quarterbacks.

     “Someone will be blitzing on every play, with some plays having multiple players blitz and sometimes we’ll bring the house,” Campbell said. “So it will be exciting football. On offense, we’ll have a score every time we touch the ball or die mentality.”

     The Heroes’ roster is made up of 35 players from Lincoln, Copiah and Franklin counties, with many players having won state championships while in high school.

     Some have college and junior college experience. Their oldest player is 33-year-old Morero McCoy and the youngest is 19-year-old Chris Seals.

     “Johns is our director of personnel and recruiting,” Campbell said. “He’s recruited the best athletes from the Franklin County team the year they won the state title. We also have a lot of players from the Brookhaven High team that won the state title. We have an outstanding team of athletes.”

     For Johns, this will be his first time on the football field since the spring of 2008 when he took the field for the Alabama Crimson Tide before being dismissed from the team after being arrested on drug charges.

     “Saturday I’m expecting to have fun,” said Johns. “A lot of guys are getting back on the field for the first time in a few years. We have a lot of talent and I expect a good game. The Pike County team is full of athletes. I think if we execute we’ll be fine.”

     The agreement between the Heroes and the Brookhaven School District for use of the field had to be changed following the initial May 9 signing after the Heroes learned they would not be able to use the press box, concession stand, public address system or scoreboard.

     The contracted was amended on May 25 to include use of the scoreboard, but nothing else. The team will pass out free water to fans in order to keep them hydrated.

     Campbell has been a college speed, strength and conditioning coach as well as track coach during his career. For 35 years he’s coached speed training and has worked with numerous NFL players, including Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots. Campbell has also worked with NFL legend Jerry Rice’s son several times.

     When asked, Campbell spoke highly of Pike County’s squad.

     “Pike County’s team is very well coached,” he said. “They have great athletes. One of their running backs is probably the best jumper I’ve seen. They are very good. We’ll have a tough game on our hands, but we’re excited because we have a great team, too.”

     The Heroes players have been excited to get on the field for a while, according to Campbell.

     “Our guys are so pumped up and have been for months now,” he said. “Most guys never thought they’d be able to play again, but they are. And we’re doing it for the right reasons for fitness and mentorship. Our guys work with younger kids without dads and help mentor them.”

     King’s Daughters Medical Center, Fox’s Pizza Den and Bank of Brookhaven are sponsoring the Heroes.

     Johns wanted to thank everyone involved.

     “I’m blessed to be at this point in my life,” said Johns. “I want to thank all the people involved and I ask everyone to come out and support what we’re doing. I think God is using male leaders to help their communities. It’s not just about me or any one guy. It’s about our community and helping bring business to local businesses.”