August 16, 2018 11:08:07 AM
MACON -- Tyrone Shorter can't recall the record, but he knows there have been countless members of the Noxubee County High School football team's defense who have competed for the highest single-season sack total.
Chaokang Brooks is the latest Tiger to vie for his chance to put his name on top of the all-time list.
Last season, the 5-foot-11, 228-pound outside linebacker led the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA) Class 4A State champions with 19 sacks. That total eclipsed current Mississippi State junior Jeffery Stewart, who had 18 1/2 as a senior in 2015.
According to statistics on MaxPreps.com (no records for 2007 season) that date back through teh 2004 season, defensive lineman Dillon Bradley, who went on to have a standout career at Southern Mississippi, is the program leader with 21 1/2 sacks in 2012.
Shorter, who has been with the program for 20-plus years as a defensive coordinator and now as its head coach, believes several other players might be in the running for the honor, but he said he is going to have to do some research to find out who leads the way.
Brooks will do his best to push his coach to find an answer because he intends to make 2018 even better than 2017.
"It is like I am the underdog, really," Brooks said. "They overlook me and don't expect me to do what I do, and when I do it they know I have a chip on my shoulder."
Brooks was third on the team with 90 tackles last season. He shared the team lead with 29 tackles for loss with Terry Joiner. Still, he feels too many coaches look at his height and believe he isn't capable of doing what he does. He said he plans to use that as motivation in his final season. So far, he said he has received interest from East Mississippi Community College, Mississippi Gulf Coast C.C., and Hinds C.C. Brooks said he would like to play Division I football, and named South Alabama, Memphis, and Louisiana Tech as possible destinations.
"I love going after the quarterback," said Brooks, who played defensive end as an eighth-grader. He moved to outside linebacker as a freshman. He said he needed time to adjust to the position, but he said extra work helped him develop a comfort level.
Brooks' pass rushing skills allow him to create havoc from the outside. He said he used to rely on his speed from the edge. Now, though, he said he has learned how to use his hands and to read blocking schemes to find the easiest path to the quarterback.
This season, Brooks plans to be a spark that ignites the defense. He hopes to do that by being a vocal and a lead-by-example teammate who pushes the rest of the Tigers.
Shorter said Brooks needs to learn from last season and realize he won't be able to rely only on his speed on the edge because teams are going to know his reputation. That's why Shorter said the coaches have been working with Brooks to get him to understand how he needs to control his pass rush to help contain the running game. He said opponents last season took advantage of Brooks when he went too far up the field and then ran under him.
Shorter said that will be a fine line to balance because the Tigers' best defenses played with a swarming mentality that brought 11 hats to the ball in waves. He said discipline will be crucial for Brooks and the rest of the defense.
"Last year, he had a one-track mind: Get the quarterback," Shorter said. "There is more to football than getting the quarterback.
"We're talking to him about using his hands more. He is good coming off the edge, but on the run he has to use his hands more and squeeze more. He can't play every snap like it is a pass. He has to be able to do both -- squeeze, step inside, and be able to get back. He has to work on that part of his game. Once he gets that done, I like his attitude and his work ethic, so I think he will be fine."
Follow Dispatch sports editor Adam Minichino on Twitter @ctsportseditor
Adam Minichino is the Sports Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.
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