Blue instrumental in Brook’s comeback win at Pearl

Published 8:00 pm Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Justin Blue considers himself just one of several playmakers on Brookhaven’s offensive unit. The senior running back stepped it up several notches last Friday night in Ole Brook’s remarkable, 35-28 road victory against the Pearl Pirates.

     Blue rushed for three, fourth-quarter touchdowns in the comeback win. He scored on runs of 3, 47 and 16 yards. He finished with 23 carries for 152 yards, plus a pass reception for 43 yards. The effort has earned him The DAILY LEADER’s Offensive Player of the Week recognition.

     Ole Brook first-year head coach Tommy Clopton said Blue has shown steady improvement. “Justin has played really well for us the last couple weeks. He has a really good first step. He is very elusive in the open field. He does a good job of making that first guy miss.”

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     Blue (5-9,185) is blessed with 4.45 speed in the 40-yard dash. In the weight room, he can bench press 285 pounds, squat with 415 and power clean 240.

     “Justin is a great kid and a hard worker,” said Clopton. “And he’s a team player. He has done a good job of adapting to the new offense.”

     On the season, Blue has rushed for 716 yards and 7 touchdowns, averaging 8.6 yards per carry. He’s caught 5 passes for 100 yards and 2 TDs.

     “My offensive line has some hard workers,” said Blue. “They always come through when you need them. Even when I hit the wrong hole, they keep working hard.”

     Blue is the 17-year-old son of Andrea Blue. His father, Tedrick Thompson, is an assistant football coach at Hazlehurst. He has two older sisters, Jada Swington and Jamie Swington-Williams. His god brother is Greg McNulty, Ole Brook’s starting center.

     “Greg and I talk a lot about blocking assignments,” said Blue. “He helps me a lot.”

      Also in Brook’s starting offensive line are right tackle Rashun Smith, right guard Anthony Wilson, left guard Joey Williams and left tackle B.J. Robinson. Genoa Sartin starts at tight end.

     Faced with a 28-14 deficit, and around eight minutes left in the game, the Panthers (3-4, 2-2) had their backs to the wall last Friday night. Pearl rarely loses a home game.

     “Our offense got hot,” said Blue. “Our offensive line did a great job blocking. I couldn’t do it without them, when we get our number called.”

     Blue complimented senior quarterback Zach Smith who passed for 246 yards and 2 touchdowns, completing 14 of 26 passes. He said wide receiver Fred Trevillion made a super kickoff return past midfield to ignite the rally.

     “Our defense forced two turnovers,” Blue pointed out. “We kept our composure.”

     He said the 14-point deficit didn’t wreck their confidence. “Coach (Clopton) said, ‘The team that can overcome adversity, wins the game.’ It felt good to get back on the winning side. Now we can get rolling.”

     The Panthers  have three straight region games left on their schedule. They play Stone County at Wiggins Friday night before returning home for bouts with Wayne County and South Jones.

     “We have three tough games left,” said Blue. “I know we can make the playoffs.”

     It was two years ago when the Panthers finished fourth in the region race and won three straight playoff games to reach the Class 5A state championship game.

     Blue wears jersey No. 20, maintaining a family tradition. “My sister, Jamie, played basketball and wore No. 20. My mom wore the same number when she played basketball in high school,” at BHS.

     He said he has adjusted to playing for Coach Clopton. “Coach is intense. He’s passionate about the game. He will always do what’s best for our team.

     “If I miss an assignment, he will take me out and try someone else. ‘Let’s see how they handle it.’ He’s fair.”

     While Clopton works mainly with the offensive line in practice, Jeremy Loy coordinates the offense. Blue said, “Coach Loy is pretty intense. He keeps us winded; to get us ready for playing in a game.”

     Blue said his favorite subject in school is math. He enjoys watching the Southern Cal Trojans and Alabama Crimson Tide on television. He quickly ticked off the names of former and present Trojan stars.

     On Sundays, Blue follows the Baltimore Ravens and linebacker Ray Lewis.

     His favorite dessert is banana pudding, prepared by Mrs. Shirley Chism.

     Looking to the future, Blue said he hopes to play college football. He wants to obtain a degree in criminal justice from Southern Miss and eventually work for the FBI.

     In the spring, he runs track and is a member of the BHS powerlifting team.