Pickens County’s Jermarcus Brown focused on state championship, not individual accomplishments
Wed. November 20, 2013 at 11:28 p.m. | By Andrew Carroll
Senior Jermarcus Brown is the leading rusher and leading scorer for the undefeated Pickens County Tornadoes. Brown, who also starts on defense, holds the school record with 44 touchdowns in a single season. Pickens County travels to face Ragland on Friday in the third round of the AHSAA Class 1A playoffs. (Photo by Jason Harless | The Tuscaloosa News)
There will come a time when Jermarcus Brown can take pride in his accomplishments, but it’s not right now.
He won’t be satisfied until the Pickens County Tornadoes win a championship.
Brown, a senior, is the leading rusher for the Tornadoes, who finished the regular season with a 10-0 record, a Region 5 championship and the No. 1 ranking in Class 1A. Pickens County won its first two playoff games, beating Gaylesville 36-13 and Addison 38-22.
The Tornadoes (12-0) continue their quest Friday with a quarterfinal game at Ragland (10-1).
Pickens County reached the semifinals last year but was eliminated with a 42-41 loss to Marion County, which blocked a field-goal try on the last play.
“We had to feed off what came out of last year,” Brown said. “We had to come to practice and think about all that we went through last year, all the hurt and pain. We were that close. Now we’re just trying to put everything together and trying to make it.”
Pickens County is a team loaded with veterans, including senior quarterback Devonte’ Simon.
“Thank God for the players that we still have here and how much work we’ve put in,” Brown said. “It’s a big senior class, and we’ve got some younger guys that have stepped up from watching us play last year. We’re still teaching some. They’re learning, and they’re coming along.”
Brown (5-foot-11, 175 pounds) has rushed for more than 2,000 yards. He holds the school record with 44 touchdowns in a single season. He also starts in the defensive secondary at cornerback, returns punts and kickoffs and does the punting and placekicking. He’s even on the kick coverage units.
He has scored touchdowns by running the ball, receiving it, on kickoff returns and punt returns and on interception and fumble returns. Brown said he never wants to leave the field, but he admitted that coach Patrick Plott might pull him out when he gets tired.
“I just have to try to go out and be better every game,” Brown said. “We watch film on Sunday. If I see I messed up, I don’t let the coaches know. I don’t let anybody know. I put it in my head. I’ll be like, ‘I’m going to surprise them when I come back and make it better.’
“I know we’ve still got a few more games, and I know that this game has got to be better than the last game. That’s how I put it.”
Brown said film study helped him develop his moves.
“When I come out at practice, I practice those moves,” he said. “Even though I’m so small, they say I run like a bigger running back. Coach depends on me one-on-one in the open field because I know I can make a move and make anybody miss.”
In the Addison game, Brown rushed for 259 yards on 23 carries and scored on runs of 52, 11, 29 and 47 yards. He also caught a touchdown pass from Simon.
“Every Sunday, when we watch films, everybody wants to see what Jermacus did,” Plott said. “He works hard for us, but like I’ve always said, it starts up front. Those guys up front do a good job, and Jermarcus makes those guys look good.
“He can run by you. He can make you miss, and he also doesn’t mind lowering his shoulder and trying to run you over, even at 5-11, 175. That’s the thing about him. How do you approach tackling him because he’ll spin on you, he’ll just juke you or he’ll just run you over.”
Pickens County’s starters on the offensive line are left tackle Delvin Spruill, left guard Chris Hill, center Chris Cobb, right guard Zev Finch and right tackle Malek Steele. Hill pulls double duty as a defensive end and linebacker, and Steele plays defensive tackle.
“The line, we push them every day in practice to be better, be stronger” Brown said. “When we come back and watch film, I’ll think, ‘That hole opened up really big.’ And then I’ll look at whoever did it and I’ll tell the other linemen, ‘Y’all need to make holes like that,’ and all of them do. I want to give them their props. They block.”
Brown figures into the passing attack as a receiver along with Deonte’ Simon, Cordell Plott, Steffon McCoy and Javarius Jefferson. Even though Brown gets the most of the carries as a running back, the offense has enough diversity to cause problems for opposing defenses.
“Devonte’ has come a long way,” Brown said. “He can go through his reads. He can run the ball. That’s what I like about him. He’s a quarterback.”
Coach Plott said Brown isn’t the only player who’s motivated.
“That Friday after we lost (to Marion County), we went back in the weight room that next Monday, and we’ve been working ever since,” Patrick Plott said. “It’s paying off so far.
“Jermacus leads by example and works hard, and the other guys on offense just follow his lead, along with Devonte’. Jermarcus knows it’s going to take all 11 guys.
“That’s the great thing about Devonte’. People have respect the fact that he can run the ball and also throw the ball. That helps balance our offense. If not, people will just load the box and key in on Jermarcus.”
Linden faces undefeated Red Devils
Facing an undefeated Maplesville team is nothing new for coach Andro Williams and the Linden Patriots.
Linden (9-3) travels Friday to play the Red Devils (12-0) in the AHSAA Class 1A quarterfinals.
Linden went 7-3 in the regular season, but all three losses were to teams in higher classifications: 2A Leroy, 4A Bibb County and 2A Southern Choctaw. The Patriots beat Keith 53-0 in the first round and McKenzie 42-16 last week.
Maplesville advanced with wins over Marengo (62-0) and Geneva County (41-7).
“They’re a team that’s so fast on defense,” Williams said. “They do a good job of getting off blocks. That’s one of their strengths. They’re going to blitz pretty much every play, trying to disrupt what you do offensively. They’re always athletic. They always have a lot of skill players. They play with a lot of energy. They have smart kids, and their coaches do a really good job of coaching them up.”
In the 2011 playoffs, Linden won 21-7 against a Maplesville team that was 12-0. The Red Devils were 12-0 again in 2010, when Linden won 45-13. The teams used to be region rivals. Maplesville was 5-0 when Linden won 23-14 in 2009. Maplesville was 4-0 when Linden won 34-0 in 2008.
Maplesville was 12-0 when it beat Linden 34-14 in 2007, Williams’ first season at Linden.
Maplesville is averaging 55.1 points per game and allowing 7.8.
“Offensively, they throw a lot of things at you,” Williams said. “Their quarterback (Colby Chambers) started against us two years ago when we played in the quarterfinals. You can tell he’s grown into himself. He does a great job of managing their offense. Their running back (Damian Mitchell) is the bell cow for their offense. He’s a college prospect.
“They have a couple of receivers. One’s 6-3, and the other one is 6-3. They can go up and catch it. They can hurt you with the passing game, and they do a great job of executing on special teams. We we have to do is try to weather the storm, limit their big plays and try to stop the run as best we can.”
Running back Devontae Knox won’t play for Linden because of a knee injury, but the Patriots still have Terrance Sanders and Prentiss McCuiston.
Sanders rushed for 153 yards and scored five touchdowns against McKenzie. He had four touchdowns in a 27-0 as the Patriots overcame a 16-15 deficit.
McCuiston gained 197 yards on 32 carries.
Williams said Tywan Smith filled in for Knox as an outside linebacker and had “a great game last week.”
“We’ve won the last couple of games because of our offensive line,” Williams said. “They’re opening up holes for our backs on a consistent basis. We ask our backs to block for each other as well. That’s part of the game we’ve got to get better at.”
The line includes tackles Ca’Terius Hinton and Chris Rogers, guards Josh Monroe and Jalen Bell, center Kennedy Sewell, and 6-3 tight end Kynard Craig, who also starts at strong safety.
“I’m pleased that the guys continued to stay with me,” Williams said. “We stuck with our system for the most part, even though we had to use a lot of young guys. They learned how to win and how to keep on keeping on. I feel like we’re blessed to have this opportunity.”
AISA All-Stars selected
Four seniors on the Tuscaloosa Academy football team have been chosen for the AISA All-Star Game. Terrell Bush, Torrence Brown, Kwuan Whitfield and Austin Menard were picked for the East squad, which faces off against the West on Dec. 6. Kickoff will be at 7 p.m. at Cramton Bowl in Montgomery.
Bush (6-3, 300) was listed an offensive and defensive lineman. Brown (6-4, 235), was listed as an athlete. He played at wide receiver, tight end, running back, defensive end and linebacker. Whitfield (6-0, 230) is an offensive and defensive lineman. Menard (6-0, 193), was a starting quarterback and defensive back.
Tuscaloosa Academy went 7-4 this season and reached the first round of the Class AAA playoffs. Bush, Brown, Whitfield and Menard helped Tuscaloosa Academy win the school’s first AISA football title in 2012. Brown recovered from a knee injury he sustained in the third game last year.
Marengo Academy’s William Tutt, Joseph Sammons and Brant Lewis were picked for the West team, along with Josh Lewis and Daniel Cameron from Pickens Academy, Clayton Hall from Southern Academy and Madison Hendry from Sumter Academy.
Tutt is a center, Sammons an offense tackle and Lewis a defensive end. Marengo Academy (12-0) plays Restoration Academy Friday in the Class A championship game at Troy University.
Lewis was listed as a wide receiver, but he was a starting quarterback and defensive back for Pickens Academy, which qualified for the first round of the Class A playoffs. Cameron was listed as a tight end.
Hall was listed as a defensive back. Hendry was listed as a linebacker.