High school football players of the week

Published 5:00 pm Wednesday, September 15, 2021

An entire line takes offensive honors this week as a junior linebacker is the top defensive player.

Hornet’s Offensive Line are DL Players of the Week

Sometimes, you’ve just got to shine a light on the guys that never get to hear their names called by a Friday night public address announcer.

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The Loyd Star Hornets are off to a 3-0 start for the 2021 football season. The team is averaging 261 rushing yards per game and 340 combined yards per game.

None of that would be possible without the big fellas up front. For their combined and cumulative work thus far in the 2021 season, including paving the way for 332 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns last week in a 54-14 win over Salem — the Loyd Star offensive line are The Daily Leader Offensive Players of the Week.

They’re the first offensive line group to receiver the award since the Lawrence County hogs took the honor in the opening week of the 2018 season.

Sophomore Conner Cunningham is one of the least experienced members of the group and has started strong while taking over at the position of center. Cunningham sees time as a catcher for the Loyd Star baseball team and the positions share many similarities.

Last season’s center, senior Lane Calcote, is now the starting left tackle. The 6-foot-1, 270-pound Calcote didn’t play football his freshman season but has been a fixture on the line for coach Brian Ford since returning to the game as a sophomore.

Junior Trevor Smith lines up beside Calcote as the left guard. Smith has an easy smile and clocks in at an athletic 6-foot, 230-pounds — but when the lights go on, he plays with an edge. That edge can earn him an occasional 15-yard penalty for blocking through the whistle, but Smith is a tone setter for the group.

Senior right guard Bryson Walker is the leader of the unit and like Smith, he’s an emotional player. Walker is a heady player that could be plugged in anywhere along the front by Ford if needed.

Another player that’s stepped into an increased role this season is junior right tackle Ethan Greer. Greer is another played that’s versatile enough for Ford to move around should a member of the group become injured.

Tight end Brantley Walker is also a senior and an important member of the unit as an edge setter.

Most of the linemen play both ways, but if you find more than one of them on the sideline, they’ll very seldomly be standing and watching with a helmet in their hand.

They’ll instead be seeking out Ford or line coach Jarrod White to talk about what they saw on the last drive or what could work on the next Loyd Star possession.

Those conversations among the offensive line can be animated and look like a bunch of brothers arguing. And that makes sense because Bryson and Brantley Walker are actual brothers.

They’re all close as blood though, no group on a football team works together like the offensive line.

Despite having their game against North Forrest cancelled this week due to COVID-19, expect the Hornets skill players to score plenty of more touchdowns this season.

And if you see Versie Wilson, Julius Smith, Carter Holcomb, Omarion Clay, Bryce Ford, James Goodwin or any other Loyd Star ball carrier getting ready to cross the goal line into the endzone throughout the rest of this season— look ahead of them for a big Hornet lineman that’s clearing a path.

Pick-6 puts BA ahead and earns Fortenberry DPOW

With the game tied and Brookhaven Academy looking for one last big play in a night filled with them, it was junior linebacker Trevor Fortenberry that made it happen.

Fortenberry returned an interception 56-yards with 5:41 remaining in the game to put Brookhaven Academy ahead for good in a 33-27-win Friday at St. Aloysius.

Fortenberry, who also finished with 6.5 tackles, has been named The Daily Leader Defensive Player of the Week for his late game heroics.

St. Al led 27-20 at halftime and that score held all the way into the fourth quarter.

With 6:50 remaining in the game, Trevor’s older brother Tyler hit senior receiver Logan Alexander on a 6-yard TD pass that was deflected before being caught.

That score got the BA fans that had made the trip to Vicksburg off their feet and 69 seconds later, Fortenberry’s interception return sent them into a frenzy.

The 6-foot-3, 195-pound Fortenberry is a competitor. He plays basketball in the winter and baseball in the spring for Brookhaven Academy. With two older brothers in Tyler and Trey, he’s grown up on ball courts and fields.

Last season Fortenberry made 43 tackles as a sophomore and came into the season as one of the unquestioned leaders for the Cougar defense and coach Anthony Hart.

It’ll be all hands on deck Friday for the BA defense when Copiah Academy comes to campus. The Colonels are 3-1 and featured a balanced offense, much like what Brookhaven saw against St. Al.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.