Petal and Brookhaven are polar opposites coming into the 2020 season.
Petal comes off a successful season and is now an inexperienced team after losing so many players. Brookhaven struggled with a 5-7 season but now returns a vast amount of experience.
“They have a lot of players back from last year starting with their quarterback,” Petal coach Marcus Boyles said. “He was a sophomore last year, is very athletic and throws the ball really well. They have a big offensive line. They have a big running back and a couple of really good receivers.”
At the center of Brookhaven’s spread offense is junior dual-threat quarterback Dre Ross. Ross passed for eight touchdowns and 775 yards while running for 555 yards and five touchdowns.
“Their quarterback stands out to us,” Boyles said. “He is a really good football player. He is a guy that makes them go on offense. We see so many (dual-threat quarterbacks) with our team. During our practices, we make sure they see a guy sprinting out or bootlegging out and making a pass on the run. You have to know who’s got what. You can’t get out of coverage. You have to stay in coverage.”
According to Boyles, Brookhaven returns plenty of players on the defensive side of the ball and that the strength of its defense is its defensive line.
“They are a 4-3 team on defense,” Boyles said. “They have a lot of guys back on that side of the ball. They have guys that are going to press you. Their defensive line and defensive ends are really big. Their two defensive ends are very athletic. They have a couple of linebackers that can run and are really aggressive guys. They are going to play a lot of different coverages.”
Last week, Petal defeated Hattiesburg 14-0 in a scrimmage. According to Boyles, his team’s defense predictably played better than his offense.
“I was really happy with our effort,” Boyles said. “We missed some blocks up front, and a couple of times the running back missed the hole, and we had a couple of dropped passes. I think it’s normal things that you need to clean up there.
“Defensively, there were no big plays allowed, so I was pleased with that. I thought the effort was good. We have to clean up some tackling. We missed some tackles, but I think that will come because tackling gets better as the season goes on.”
For Boyles, Petal’s Week 1 road game against Brookhaven will be a good experience for his young team.
“I’m excited for our kids to play, especially for our seniors,” Boyles said. “Going to Brookhaven with an inexperienced team, you always worry about that first road game with how they will respond, so I’m anxious to see that.
“I have played Brookhaven a lot over the years, especially when I was at Wayne County, and they are really good at home like most good teams are, so I know we are in for a fight over there.”