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Fallen Brookhaven linebacker chosen permanent captain by his teammates

The night of the Brookhaven athletic banquet was a special one. A time for celebration.

They wore their church-going clothes. Neckties, sport coats, creased khakis. Their names were called out, praised. They walked up in front of a couple of hundred people to take hold of silver trophies, fancy certificates, letterman jackets.

Tiffany Blackwell was there to see Brookhaven’s football players honored at the annual banquet. Her son, Jordan, would have been one of them. Should have been.

But an alleged murderer cheated him and seven other people out of their lives in late May. Jordan didn’t get to take part in Ole Brook’s 11-win season. Didn’t get to step under the lights or spear a running back or hear his name on the loudspeakers as a senior.

But the team believes Jordan was there for every game, that he played a part in every victory.

They voted him permanent team captain for 2017.

“They have shown us Jordan is still a part of the team,” Tiffany said. “It shows this team truly are their brothers’ keepers.”

Head coach Tommy Clopton said he got emotional as he counted his players’ votes for the award and remembered what should have been in 2017. He recounted a conversation he had with Jordan’s father, Shon, in June, shortly after the killings.

“I found Jordan and Trace together in the dressing room after school. That’s weird, because school is usually the last place kids want to be after the bell rings at 3 o’clock,” Clopton remembered. “He went home and said, ‘Daddy, we’ve got this. I’m gonna take care of the defense, and Clopton’s going to take care of the offense.’”

Jordan wasn’t there to take care of the defense from his middle linebacker position. But the team took care of his memory all season. His No. 18 was painted black in the endzone at King Field. The 18-yard line’s tick marks were blacked out. Senior players carried his jersey into every game on a banner pole.

At the banquet, they presented Jordan’s framed, white No. 18 jersey to the Blackwells in memoriam. The year-end highlight video contained a special section dedicated to Jordan with pictures of him in seasons past.

Shon knows that’s over now. These seniors will be gone from Brookhaven in five months. Next year’s team will remember Jordan, but time will hide the tragedy from tomorrow’s players.

“It will be kind of rough when this is over, when these guys graduate and move on,” Shon said. “But we understand in life God allows us to have memories. We have all the great memories of being a part of the Panther family.”