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Panthers visit No. 1 Picayune

Picayune’s Maroon Tide, the consensus No. 1 high school football team in the Magnolia State, welcomes the Brookhaven Panthers Friday night for the opening round of the Class 5A state playoffs. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

     Picayune (10-0), coached by Dodd Lee, closed its regular season undefeated. The Tide defeated West Harrison 44-14 last Friday.

     Ole Brook head coach Tommy Clopton knows his Panthers (5-5) face a difficult challenge tomorrow night.  “Picayune has a really strong football team. They do a good job running to the football.  Number 20, Doug Cross, is a great player at defensive end.”

     Offensively, Picayune lines up and runs straight at opponents. One of the main movers is junior running back Preston Dedeaux. He rushed 13 times for 139 yards and 4 touchdowns in the win over West Harrison.

     “Dedeaux is a good football player,”  said Clopton.  ” He is explosive and has great vision.”

     Clopton said Picayune’s offensive philosophy was similar to West Point, which is known for its Power-I.  “They line up and run straight at you; like West Point.”

     Two of Picayune’s offensive linemen, Jacob Feely (6-3, 250, sr.) and Joey Reynolds (6-3, 255,  sr.) have been named to the Mississippi-Alabama Classic, which will be held Dec. 15, at Montgomery, Ala. Another Picayune member is running back Taylor Desmond (6-0, 195, sr.).

     On defense, Picayune is loaded with talented athletes who run to the football. One of the best is Kadarius Cross (6-0, 205, sr.) who works at cornerback. Cross will play for the South in the Dec. 22 North-South Bernard Blackwell All-Star Classic at Gulfport.

     “On defense, they have a very athletic group,” said Clopton. “They rotate a lot of people.”

     Clopton said his team will need an exceptional performance Friday night. “We have to take advantage of what they give us. We have to protect the football.

     “On defense, we need to eliminate their big plays and  eliminate the big first down.”

Panthers Seeded No. 4

     Brookhaven beat South Jones 62-43 last Friday night in a Region 3-5A game. The Panthers qualified for the state playoffs as the No. 4 seed when McComb  defeated Pearl 36-29 in double overtime.

     Clopton said his Panthers are looking forward to playing the No. 1-ranked team in Mississippi. “We are excited. Our kids are very excited. Picayune has a tough game ahead of them, too.”

Panthers Offensive

     BHS and South Jones combined for 105 points last Friday on Senior Night, probably the highest combined point total in King Field history. The Panthers accounted for 426 yards, led by senior quarterback Zach Smith who completed 13 of 17 passes for 229 yards and 2 touchdowns.

     Wide receiver Fred Trevillion caught 5 passes for 107 yards and 1 TD. Genoa Sartin had 6 catches for 81 yards and a score.

     Sophomore running back Tre McDaniel led the BHS rush with 11 carries for 99 yards and 2 TDS. Senior Justin Blue rushed 19 times for 65 yards and a TD. Senior Demarius Newton rushed for 2 TDs.

     On defense, senior end JaBoree Poole directed the Panthers with 10 tackles, including 3 sacks and a forced fumble.  Sophomore end Leo Lewis had 7 tackles, including 2 fumble recoveries. He returned a fumble 75 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown.

     Linebackers Chris Calcote and Marcus Coleman each collected 6 tackles in the win.

Blue Collar Picayune

     Coach Dodd Lee is in his 17th season at Picayune. He has 15 seniors on his squad.

     Asked about his team’s high success level, Lee said,  “Year around, they have a great work ethic. We have kids on our team that are natural leaders.”

     Lee complimented his coaching staff.  “We have some outstanding coaches,” Lee pointed out. “Four of us have been together for about 100 years total.”

     Lee said Dedeaux had been our four weeks with a dislocated shoulder but he showed promise against West Harrison. The team’s leading rusher is Cross.

     Ben Hickman, is the Tide’s quarterback. He is a nephew of Brookhaven Academy assistant coach Andrew Hickman.

     Sharing his opinion on the Panthers, Lee said, “Brookhaven is an outstanding football team. Their quarterback does a good job running their offense. They have a scheme and they operate it.”