Tanner accounts for 11 tackles in win against Brook

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, September 5, 2012

HAZLEHURST — Junior defensive end Javarious Tanner enjoyed playing on a muddy, rain-soaked field. The hard-hitting junior accounted for 11 tackles in Hazlehurst’s 24-7 Saturday victory over the Brookhaven Panthers in Robert F. McDaniel Stadium. Three of his tackles were for a loss. He also had one sack and a forced fumble.

     Tanner’s titanic efforts have earned him The DAILY LEADER’s Defensive Player of the Week recognition.

     Hazlehurst coach Randal Montgomery praised Tanner’s work ethic in practice and his  high level of energy in games. “Javarious is an overall good kid. He’s a high motor and he has good technique. He plays wide open from the snap to the whistle.”

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     Montgomery added, “Javarious is a very fast kid. He has exceptional quickness off the ball.”

     The Indians are off to a 3-0 start this season and ranked No. 1 in the latest Class 3A Associated Press Prep Poll. They play at Jackson Wingfield Friday night.

     Tanner and his teammates vividly remembered last year’s narrow 7-6 loss at Brookhaven. They were bent on gaining a measure of revenge.

     Brookhaven only managed 155 yards total offense against Hazlehurst, gaining 129 yards on the ground. The Panthers fumbled eight times and lost two of them on the rain-soaked field.

     Tanner, who wears jersey No. 59, was moved from defensive tackle to end this season.

     “This is my first year at end,” said Tanner. “I was defensive tackle last year. It’s fun. I like coming off the edge instead of going head to head.”

     His main responsibility at defensive end?

     “I have to keep containment, generally squeeze,” the play inside.

     He lives with his mother, Cora Tanner. His father, the late Freddie Tanner, passed away six years ago.

     He has 13 brothers and sisters but only two live with him and his mother. Peaira and Keaira Cooley are 18-year-old twins. They are Hazlehurst seniors.

     Tanner proudly proclaimed, “My brother wears No. 55 and plays defensive end and tackle. We talk a lot about football when we are at home.”

     Last year the Indians finished 12-2 in Montgomery’s first season at the helm. They lost to Charleston in the Class 3A state championship game. Tanner and his teammates have state title ambitions again.

     “We have a good team and we have to stay focused to go farther than we did last year,” said Tanner. “We want to win state. We have a great coaching staff, too.”

     He was in middle school at Hazlehurst in  2005, the last time the Indians won state.

     Hazlehurst is solid on both sides of the football. Tanner said the defense works as a unit. “We trust each other and we work together as a team.”

     Damien Gary is the defensive coordinator. Ted Thompson, a Brookhaven graduate, coaches the defensive line.

     Tanner praised Montgomery’s leadership and knowledge of the game. “He’s a great coach and he knows how to handle us. He’s always sticking up for us.”

     In the classroom, Tanner is an honor roll student. His favorite subjects are English and history.

     “School is my No. 1 priority,” said Tanner. “You have got to get good grades.”

     He also plays the outfield on Hazlehurst’s baseball team. Looking to the future, Tanner has designs on becoming an oral surgeon.