• John Macon Gillespie

Column: Why Brandon Is Top Dog In 2016

The 2016 season is here. As Webb Lewis wrote in a column recently, the chill of an early fall is close. Now that the SES Mississippi preview issue is out and so are rankings, it’s time to begin the conversation.

Brandon is where those conversations have to behind. The Bulldogs sit on top of the SES Mississippi top 10 heading into the season due to being loaded with talent. Brady Anderson, Lakendrick Jones, Ricky Myers, Rodney Hawkins, SchDarren Archie, Vincent Butler and many other talented contributors from last season will be back with intentions of getting a ring.

A recent conversation with the voice of the Bulldogs, Jake Wimberly, has me thinking Brandon is seasoned just right for a big run this fall.

“The last five years Brandon has been extremely close. It’s been heartbreak hotel four years going,” Wimberly told SES Mississippi.

In 2012, Gardner Minshew guided the Bulldogs to the state championship where they would lose to South Panola. In 2013, they lost in the South semifinal against Meridian, whom they had defeated in the regular season. Same thing, different team in 2014, when they would defeat Oak Grove in the regular season but lose to them in South state. Then again last season they were defeated in the South semifinals by Petal, a team they had defeated in the regular season.

“Lost in the 6A championship game in 2012. Lost on a final drive that stalled out against Meridian in 2013. Lost on a block kick against Oak Grove in 2014. And lost on a stalled winning drive against Petal last year,” Wimberly explained.

While the Tyler Peterson, the 2015 SES Coach of the Year, has talent stacked at most every position, the offensive line group will have to prove themselves. In year two, though, there is little reason to believe Peterson’s offense won’t be even better.

That’s an especially scary statement when you consider the fact that the defensive side of the ball is where most of the talent and experience resides. Wimberly added that side would be the calling card again this season.

Hawkins and Archie will make the unit strong against the pass and the run, while Myers and Jones will be tough in the front seven.

Wimberly explained the group of seniors on this year’s team have been highly thought for a couple year’s now. In fact, Minshew even told him that he wished he could have played with the group of weapons the Bulldogs currently have.

Brandon is not only a well-coached team, but also an improved version of a team that won 11 games a season ago. And their past only seems as if it will be driving force on their way to claiming what they feel is theirs this December.

**Photos by Keith Warren of the MHSAA.

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