Special to The Times
Brooks County (7-1, 4-0) took one step closer to earning the region 1-AA crown Friday night, as the sixth-ranked Trojans knocked off the Pelham Hornets (3-4, 0-3) 42-22, despite a less than stellar effort on the team's homecoming night.
Senior quarterback Malkom Parrish ran the show as usual for Brooks County, but he saved a special performance for his final homecoming game. Parrish was 11-22 through the air for a whopping 249 yards and two scores. In addition, as if his aerial performance wasn't enough, Parrish added 139 yards rushing on just 10 carries and also scored twice on the ground.
"This type of performance is what we expect out of Malkom," Brooks County head coach Maurice Freeman commented after his team's fifth consecutive victory. "We expect him to be something close to Superman and I think he was tonight. He did a great job."
Brooks County came storming out of the gates in the first half, using a defensive three and out and a 69-yard touchdown run from Mitavious Brooks on the Trojans' first offensive play from scrimmage to seize momentum from Pelham. The Trojans never relinquished that momentum, or their lead, back to the Hornets.
After scoring on their first offensive play of the game, Brooks County continued to pile it on, scoring three more touchdowns in the first half, including one touchdown on an electrifying play with three seconds left in the first half that saw Malkom Parrish break four Pelham tackles in the backfield before finding a wide-open Derrick Herring in the back of the end zone.
Still, Freeman is keeping things in perspective.
Freeman knows that his team is simply beating the teams they are supposed to beat, and he expressed the need for his team to get better quickly with only two games left in the regular season.
"I wasn't really happy with our performance tonight. I thought we played really sluggish. We played down to their level and not up to ours," added Freeman, whose team turned the ball over three times and had 12 penalties for 105 yards.
"We've got some things we need to work on. I just wasn't really pleased with our performance tonight."
Freeman's last line, however, summed up the night for Brooks County: "A win is a win."
Parrish wasn't the only Trojan who had an explosive night offensively on Brooks County's homecoming night. Senior running back Mitavious Brooks had 94 yards rushing on just seven carries, contributing two touchdowns, both of which came in the first half.
Through the air, senior Derrick Herring and junior Exavious Medlock continued to have breakout seasons. Herring caught four passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, while Medlock caught three balls for 60 yards and one score.
For Pelham, running back Desmond Parker had an outstanding game, carrying the load offensively for the Hornets. The physical junior had a game-high 19 carries for 172 yards, the majority of the yardage coming after contact on bruising runs into the Brooks County secondary.
After seeing Parker's performance Friday night, Freeman has "team tackling" at the top of the Trojans' pre-playoff to-do list.
"We have to improve on our team tackling," Freeman asserted after seeing his defense surrender large chunks of rushing yardage to Pelham. "We also need to improve on special teams and on our run blocking. If we improve on those three things, I think we can be a force in the playoffs."
Brooks County controls their own destiny in region 1-AA, needed wins in Adel against Cook next week and at home against Berrien in the regular season finale to clinch the region.
Despite expressing urgency about his team needing to improve before the playoffs, Freeman isn't overlooking his team's last two opponents.
He's doing just the opposite.
"Both Cook and Berrien are good football teams. Berrien barely lost to Fitzgerald, so we know they're a much-improved team. Cook always gives us a tough game and we have to play that game on the road. We just have to stay focused."
Despite the subpar performance Friday night, Brooks County has exemplified the fact that they are able to fight through adversity, make the big play, and find a way to win the game at the end. As the Trojans continue to improve, they are looking more and more like one of the favorites in the entire state.