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Gayten, Austin are The Daily Leader Players of the Week

Brookhaven High’s Xavier Gayten and West Lincoln’s Stephen Austin are the Daily Leader Players of the Week.

Gayten has become go-to back for BHS

The Brookhaven High football season has been one filled with uncertainty. No team in the area has had to overcome more off the field in dealing with COVID-19 as Ole Brook prepares to play just their fifth game of 2020 Friday night in the regular season finale.

When the Panthers take on West Jones Friday coach Tucker Peavey and his staff will know one thing for sure — freshman running back Xavier Gayten will be the featured back in the BHS offense.

Last week in an 41-38 win over Natchez High, Gayten pounded through the Bulldog defense for 208 yards rushing. For his efforts he has been named The Daily Leader Offensive Player of the Week.

He’s not the first Gayten to carry the ball on King Field — his father Willie was a standout at BHS in his day, but he’s the first freshman to lead the team in rushing in recent memory.

It’s been a pleasant surprise for Peavey and his staff to see how smoothly Gayten has transitioned from playing junior high ball at Alexander last season to taking on 5A defenses this fall.

He also has the luxury of running behind a big, experienced offensive line that’s led by senior center Jon Albritton.

The Panthers (5-2) took an early lead at Natchez Friday before the Bulldog passing game got NHS back into the game.

Gayten carried the ball 28 times, scored two rushing touchdowns and also caught a pass.

Friday he’ll face the best defense BHS has seen all season in West Jones (7-2).

Laurel has already clinched the top spot in Region 3-5A ahead of the playoffs starting next week. A win by BHS Friday will give them the second seed and the right to host a playoff game in the first round.

A loss means they’ll hit the road for the first round as the No. 3 or No. 4 seed — depending on the outcome of the Natchez and South Jones game.

Two-interception effort gets Austin picked as DPOW

West Lincoln had never beaten Amite County coming into the 2020 season.

Friday the Bears were finally able to scratch that itch when they clawed back for a 20-18 win in Liberty.

WL coach Brad Bland credits senior defensive back Stephen Austin for making the play of the season in the fourth quarter.

Austin intercepted two passes on the night and returned one for the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter. For his play Austin has been named The Daily Leader Defensive Player of the Week.

Late in the game, West Lincoln trailed 18-13, but had AC backed up into a third and very long at their own 35-yard line.

Harassed as he threw the ball, the Amite County quarterback tossed a long soft pass towards the West Lincoln sideline.

Austin followed the flight of the ball and jumped in front of the Trojan receiver who stood motionless, waiting for it to come down.

Starting his return at the 49-yard line, Austin followed his blockers down the visitor sideline to score untouched.

As Amite County scrambled to score a go-ahead touchdown on the next drive, it was Austin again who iced the game with an interception of a Trojan toss that went long.

For the game, the Bear defense held Amite County to just 204 yards of total offense with only 38 yards coming through the air.

Austin finished with four tackles as West Lincoln clinched a fourth-straight playoff appearance.

Bland and his Bears (5-4) are back on the road this week for the opening round of the MHSAA 2A playoffs. They’ll face an Enterprise-Clarke (7-1) team whose only loss this season was by five points to Taylorsville.