Are you ready for some football?
Published 8:00 pm Sunday, August 12, 2012
Are you ready for some football?
A positive answer roars across the Mississippi landscape as high school football teams kick off their 2012 seasons this week. Most of the teams will play on Friday night, ignoring the sauna-like conditions on the playing field.
Seven new head coaches in the area will make their debut, six of them on Friday night. Tommy Clopton of Brookhaven and his Panthers will sit out the MHSAA Classic Game and host Lawrence County on Thursday, Aug. 23.
Among the Lincoln County coaches making their debut Friday night are Brooks Burns of Enterprise, when his Yellow Jackets host Salem; and Willie Brumfield of West Lincoln, when his Bears visit Ethel. In the area, Ronald Greer of Wesson leads his Cobras to Crystal Springs for the season opener. At Lawrence County, David Parker takes his Cougars to Hazlehurst.
In Pike County, Parklane Coach Mike Powell debuts when his Pioneers host Bowling Green. Michael Andrews debuts at South Pike as his Eagles host East Marion.
In Lincoln County, the annual Possum Bowl arrives earlier than usual when Bogue Chitto invades Loyd Star. Other action finds Brookhaven Academy visiting Silliman Institute in Clinton, La., Franklin County hosting North Pike, Copiah Academy hosting Oak Forest and Terry invading McComb.
Members of the Mississippi High School Activities Association will kick off their games at 7:30 p.m., until the first playing date in October. Mississippi Association of Independent Schools start their games at 7 p.m.
There’s no shortage of enthusiasm at this time of the year. Most of the players have labored through two months of offseason workouts, highlighted by strength and conditioning exercises.
Preseason practice began July 30. Some of the teams participated in scrimmages against other schools last week.
Possum Bowl: Former Loyd Star coach Roe Burns began the Possum Bowl tradition three decades ago in an effort to create more interest and enthusiasm for the sport of football in a basketball-crazed county. It worked.
Bogue Chitto has won two straight Possum Bowls and is heavily favored as the Bobcats anticipate one of their best-ever seasons under head coach Gareth Sartin.
Directing the Bobcats are senior wideouts Brandon Wells and Germie Martin and quarterback Brock Smith. Brothers Jermaine, Jeremy and James Blackwell are mainstays on offense and defense.
Loyd Star, by comparison, has struggled since its 10-2 campaign of 2009. Third-year coach Randall Huffman has a youth-laden but determined Loyd Star squad that will play hard against an ancient rival.
Quarterback Seth Farmer and punter/placekicker Cori Crowe are among the Loyd Star veterans.
West Lincoln: The Bears have renewed enthusiasm under Brumfield’s leadership. How well the Bears fare with an independent schedule remains to be seen. They were 2-6 last year.
“Our team looks a lot better,” said West Lincoln quarterback Jonah King. “We have new blocking schemes and plays.”
Running back Deon Moore agreed with King. “Our offensive line is doing better. I’ve been working hard in the weight room and showing senior leadership.”
Tyler Moak, a junior linebacker and guard, said the team’s attitude has changed. “Coach Brumfield has a lot of enthusiasm. He works us a lot.”
Wesson Upbeat: Ronald Greer returns to the sidelines after a 9-year absence. He had served as the school’s principal but when Clopton left for Brookhaven, he seized the opportunity.
Wesson senior outside linebacker Chris Craft said the Cobras should be strong on defense, despite major losses to graduation. “We have some players stepping up. They’ve shown in practice that they can make tackles.”
One of Craft’s goals is “to lead the team in tackles.”
Cullen Greer, a 6-foot, 265-pound senior offensive tackle, returns Class 2A All-State credentials for the Cobras. He shared his optimism.
“I know we will do better than last year,” he predicted. “We have three seniors and two juniors on the offensive line. We come off the ball real well.”
New Look at LCHS:The Cougars are under the direction of a new head coach and virtually an entire new group of assistants for the first time in nine years. Parker ordered new game jerseys and changed the helmet logo, too.
Senior offensive guard J.D. McGruder said he is optimistic about the Cougars’ chances this season. “We have been working hard in practice and our new guys on the line are working hard. I like the new coach.”
LCHS offensive line coach Jesse Anderson is the only holdover from the previous staff that was led by Mike Davis.
Senior quarterback Nico McDonald said LCHS fans will like the Flexbone offensive scheme. “It gives us a wide range of plays that we can run out of. Our team is progressing. Our goal is to win state.”
Enterprise: Coach Brooks Burns plans to blaze a new trail with the Yellow Jackets. He is the fourth new head coach in four years.
Burns said a new attitude must be established on the team and in the community. “The offseason work ethic must get a lot better.”
His father, Roe Burns, has come out of retirement to serve as the team’s defensive coordinator.
Brookhaven Academy: Coach Tripp McCarty unveils another high-octane offense Friday night, led by quarterback Gage Posey and running back Landon Nettles. The Cougars claimed the District 5-AA title in McCarty’s first season at the helm.
McCarty must fill some key vacancies on the offensive line and on defense as the Cougars aim for another state playoff berth.
Franklin County: The Bulldogs, coached by Rickey O’Quinn, should again be a force in Region 7-3A. They won the region last year and return experience at quarterback in Jay Davis and running back Chris Robinson.
Hazlehurst Hot: After finishing runners-up to Charles in last year’s Class 3A state title game, the Hazlehurst Indians are expected to be stronger and faster. Coach Randal Montgomery will count on quarterback Kenny Coleman and running back/linebacker Demetrius Cain to direct the veteran squad.
Brookhaven: Seniors Zach Smith at quarterback and Justin Blue at running back give the Panthers a strong 1-2 punch. Receiver Fred Trevillion has big-time talent.
Clopton has added four new coaches to the football staff: offensive coordinator Jeremy Loy, defensive line coach David Tadlock, secondary coach Keith Pigott and receivers coach Darien Dorsey.
On defense, the Panthers will count on defensive end Jaboree Poole and cornerback Jonah Hill to anchor a rebuilding effort. Chaz Allen has been promoted to defensive coordinator.
Parklane: Former BHS offensive coordinator Mike Powell will rely on quarterback Zach Stutzman and running back Joseph Clark to direct the Pioneers in what is expected to be a strong campaign.