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Peavey makes improvements at Southwest

    SUMMIT – It’s a whole new ballgame at Southwest Mississippi Community College. Tucker Peavey was hired in December to revive the ailing football program and he has made wholesale changes since that press conference introduced him as the new head football coach.

     Peavey, 51, inherits a winless program from Charles Anthony, who announced his decision to step down early in the 2012 season. Anthony’s Bears gave it the old college try but they finished 0-9.

     Entering the front door of the Southwest field house, it’s obvious that things have  changed. Fresh paint, new carpet and a positive attitude pervade the premises. The medical treatment room, dressing room, film room and weight training room have been improved. There are additional coaches’ offices available and large, flat TV screens in each area. There’s also a players’ lounge in the field house, making the Bears comfortable in their home away from home.

     “The wide screen TVs help the coaches and players,” said Peavey. “The main reason is to show videos of games. A lot of work is going on to bring the field house up to standard.”

     Outside the walls, a sparkling and expanded new press box oversees Hurst Stadium.

     The honeymoon continues for Peavey and his staff prior to the 2013 kickoff. They’ve been working overtime, recruiting players and promoting the program. The schedule hasn’t changed much and the Bears’ residence in the MACJC’s rugged South Division remains an awesome challenge.

     “We will have a lot of new faces and we have a lot of questions to answer,” said Peavey. He only has five starters returning from last season’s squad.

     Peavey’s coaching staff is basically new, with the exception of one holdover. One of the newcomers is Kelby Bowman, Southwest’s new defensive coordinator. He served on Peavey’s former staff at Brookhaven before working at Madison Central last season.

     Among the assistant coaches is Jamie Everett, the team’s offensive coordinator and line coach. Also on board are newcomers Donald Dykes, secondary; Jessie Bowman, defensive line; Cameron Achord, receivers and special teams; and Paul Dancsisin, a volunteer coach who helps with the offensive line and tight ends.

     Trey Waldrop of Summit First Baptist is serving as the team chaplain.

     Peavey, a Brookhaven native who coached the Ole Brook Panthers for nine years, including a state championship in 2004, has been in the business for 28 years, many of those seasons spent on the college level. He held coaching positions at LSU, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Southern Miss, and Northeast Mississippi Community College. He was part of the ill-fated Southern Miss staff that finished 0-12 under Ellis Johnson in 2012.

     “We have assembled a solid staff and they are working hard to improve the program,” said Peavey. He complimented Southwest president Dr. Steve Bishop for his enthusiastic support.

     “Dr. Bishop has made a commitment to make this program successful,” said Peavey. “He will know everybody by name. We want players to graduate and get on to the next level.”

     He said new Southwest athletic director Bill Ashley has been supportive, too. A recent golf tournament, held at Percy Quinn State Park’s course, raised funds for the football program.

     Peavey said the MACJC is recognized across the nation for its high grade of football. “The league is very well respected around the country. There’s always a bunch of good football players in the league. We want to get our team to the upper level of our conference.”

     Defending state champion Co-Lin is joined by Gulf Coast, Pearl River, Jones County, Hinds and East Central. Co-Lin won its first state title since 1985.

     It’s a difficult climb out of the South Division cellar. Peavey is preparing his squad for the challenge. He said 56 players are on campus and enrolled in summer school. They participate in daily, volunteer workouts.

     Peavey said, “It’s a busy day for them. From 7:30 (a.m.) to 12:30, they’re in class. Then they eat lunch and come down to the field house. Their day is full until 7 o’clock at night.”

     Fans definitely will need a program to identify the Bears. Only five starters return.

     “We have a lot of new guys,” said Peavey. “We only have about 14 guys coming back from the spring. Not a lot of experience is an understatement.”

     Quarterback, usually the key to success in most offenses, will provide a quartet of newcomers. They are Jamil Golden (6-4, 245) of Memphis, a transfer from Mississippi State; DeAngelo Ballard, (6-1, 195) of Noxubee County, Cordaius Davis (6-0, 170) of McLaurin and Bodarius Jackson (6-2, 190), of Georgia. Jackson also plays wide receiver.

     Peavey said he plans to  use an I-back offense. Freshman running back Justin Blue (6-0, 190) of Brookhaven has shown some potential.

     Peavey is married to the former Leah Ann Holtslander of Natchez. She will teach chemistry at North Pike. They have four children: Lauren, Nick, Ashley and Emily, who will be a freshman at Mississippi State. Nick will work with his father as a volunteer assistant.

     Preseason practice officially begins Aug. 6. The Bears play their first game Aug. 29, at Northwest Community College in Senatobia.