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National Signing Day — 3 Brookhaven High athletes sign football scholarships

They’ve been their brothers’ keepers for years. But next football season, the brothers will line up against each other.

Brookhaven High School senior defensive linemen Dahauntre Hill and Michael Stallings will look to build a brick wall on the line of scrimmage for Southwest Mississippi Community College. Ole Brook senior running back Damarrell Leggett will line up in Copiah-Lincoln Community College’s backfield and try to run through it.

The matchup will happen in October after all three Panther standouts signed scholarship offers Wednesday as part of national signing day.

“I feel like it’s the best place for me. The plays they run, the inside-zone runs, are made for me,” Leggett said. “When I get to Co-Lin, I’m going to do something with the rock in my hands.”

Leggett is accustomed to toting the rock, and he’s certainly made things happen with it in his hands for Brookhaven. He was a tireless runner for the Panthers in 2017’s 5A playoff run, amassing 1,525 yards on 187 carries, good for a defense-crushing 8.2 yards per carry.

He scored 21 touchdowns on the year, and was instrumental in late-season wins, approaching 30 carries per game when the team needed his consistency.

Co-Lin coach Glenn Davis said the Wolves run an offensive scheme similar to Brookhaven’s, and Leggett will be able to dive right into the playbook.

“He’s a great fit for us. He’ll be familiar with what we do,” Davis said. “The thing we really like about Duke is he’s a guy that can score from distance. He can really run, and his speed is the biggest thing that stood out to me.”

Leggett’s mother, April Williams, wasn’t surprised her son earned a spot playing college football, but it wasn’t always such a clear vision.

“I didn’t see it coming when he was younger,” she said. “But when he started playing high school football in the ninth grade, then I realized he may have a chance to do something. Co-Lin is getting a great football player.”

Hill was also looking at fit and function when he signed with Southwest. He said coaches there recruited him as a run-stopper, and that’s what he’s ready to do.

“I just like the football program at Southwest. I like the way they do their thing,” he said. “I can clog up the middle, and I hope to be able to play right away.”

Hill had success against opposing offenses last year with the Panthers, totaling 47 tackles, three sacks and even an interception — a defensive lineman’s dream.

Hill’s mother, Venetria Hill, said she was glad her son would be attending college at Southwest.

“I’m happy he’s close by. He’s a momma’s boy,” she said. “I’m very proud of him. I think he’s proven that if you work hard, you can achieve anything you put your mind to.”

While Hill strives to ruin the middle off opposing teams’ offenses, his teammate Stallings will be working from the edge. He signed on to Southwest as a defensive end.

“I like the coaches at Southwest, how they know how to bring in new talent,” Stallings said. “I’m going to bring a good work ethic to the table — if I work hard, I think I can play right away.”

Stallings worked hard for the Panthers, getting in on 37 tackles and dropping two quarterbacks and forcing a fumble. He said he would always remember his time at Ole Brook.

“I will miss playing on Friday nights with my brothers. But that’s part of life. You have to move on,” he said.

His mother, Tafv Stallings, said the family was pleased with Southwest on their visits there, and she is confident Michael made the right choice.

“I feel good about it. I’m very proud of him, but it’s bitter-sweet,” she said. “He’s my first-born and now he’s going to leave me. We’ve been together for 18 years. But it’s also sweet. I’m loving it.”

Brookhaven coach Tommy Clopton said the triple signing was a testament to the Panther football team. He evaluated all three players and what they will bring to the table for their new college teams.

“Dahauntre brings some size to the interior of the defensive line right off the bat. He’s had to battle injuries in his career, so he’s used to working hard and overcoming obstacles,” Clopton said. “I’m proud of Michael — his best football is still ahead of him. He really came into his own his senior year, and he will only get better at Southwest.

“Damarrell was our workhorse this year,” he continued. “We look forward to seeing him adjust to the college game. His future will be as bright as he wants it to make it.”