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Busy Brooks ready for first rivalry game


David Miller



CRAWFORD -- Forgive East Oktibbeha County High School football coach Randy Brooks if he''s still trying to catch up in Week 2 of the season. 


Officially, he has been on the job for only three weeks and he''s calling plays on both sides of the ball. 


It isn''t the average day in the life of a head football coach, but such is the situation when you''re in charge of a Mississippi High School Activities Association Class 1A program. 


But can it work all year? 


Just one season removed from a four-win finish, the Titans, who feature several members of the track team that finished third in its classification last season, are optimistic they can earn a playoff berth this season. 


But that optimism received a jolt when head coach Anthony King left the program to join the coaching staff Noxubee County High. The move left defensive coordinator Brooks in limbo as he waited to approved by the school board. 


Brooks then discovered he would be game-planning and calling plays for the offense and defense and installing a new offense one week into the season following a 20-8 loss to Montgomery County. 


"When you''re a junior high coach, you''re used to coaching both sides of the ball," Brooks said. "You shouldn''t have to in high school, but we''ll get through it and we''ll be fine. This is an experienced ballclub." 


Brooks is in charge of girls basketball, boys track and field and football at the school, but his return to being a head coach on the gridiron excites him the most. He has opted to switch to the wishbone offense, a system in which he and the older players are familiar with from junior high football. He hopes the change will help in-game coaching. 


"It''s difficult when you have your defense coming off the field and you can''t coach them up because you''re sending plays in," Brooks said. "It''s the same when the defense is going on the field. I can''t talk to my quarterback. Hopefully, having some familiarity with the wishbone will help with that." 


Brooks, who is preparing his team for its rivalry match against West Lowndes on Friday, praised his players for not letting the coaching change and lack of jamboree/scrimmage preparations affect them. 


The team will need that focus considering East Oktibbeha will play its other big rival, West Oktibbeha, next week. The Timberwolves have won the last three meetings. 


The connection between East Oktibbeha and West Lowndes High (0-1) is deep, as Brooks spent five years as an assistant coach to current Panthers'' skipper Bobby Berry. He also led the junior high program at West Lowndes, where this year''s group of WLHS seniors were his players in seventh grade. West Lowndes High has won the last four meetings on the field. 


Also, Panthers guard Fredrico Moody is the brother of former East Oktibbeha basketball player Olivia Moody, who played for Brooks last season. 


"There''s bragging rights involved with the schools being 20 miles apart," Brooks said. "This is a bigger rivalry than what we have with West Oktibbeha because of the communities being so close. I know a lot of those kids, too, so it''s going to fun coaching against them. Both teams need wins, so it should be a classic game."



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