DENHAM SPRINGS — The Woodlawn Panthers appeared to be in mid season form while blanking Denham Springs 28-0 here Friday night — especially senior quarterback Charles Brooks.
The third-year starter threw for one touchdown and ran for two more in leading the Panthers to the season-opening win.
Brooks ran for a game-high 97 yards on 13 attempts and threw for another 97 yards on 9-of-16 passing with no interceptions.
Denham Springs coach Dru Nettles said the Yellow Jackets felt they were well prepared to stop the shifty senior after falling to the Panthers by a 27-21 margin last season. But Brooks proved too elusive in running Woodlawn’s spread offense with precision.
“When you face a player of that caliber, the defense has to be really aggressive. He made a lot of plays with his feet, and stopping him was a big challenge for us. He just did a great job,” Nettles said. “We’ve got to rebound from this and get back to work and represent this school to the best of our ability.”
Brooks led his squad 72 yards for a score on Woodlawn’s first possession of the game. The seven-play drive was kept alive by junior Taj Sullivan’s 20-yard gallop near midfield. Five plays later, facing second-and-12, junior receiver Quincy Vessel slipped past Denham’s secondary in the right corner of the end zone and pulled in a 26-yard pass from Brooks.
Though still early in the contest, that’s when Brooks felt he had the game under control.
“When we scored that first touchdown, I felt like we had them right where we wanted them,” he said. “I think they were ready for us. It just came down to me being able to get to the outside, reading the defensive end and executing the run-pass option.”
Though Woodlawn has yet to yield a touchdown after beating Belaire 30-0 in jamboree action last week, Panthers coach Brett Beard said there’s still plenty of room for improvement after giving up 55 yards on seven penalties.
“The kids have been working hard in the weight room and working hard on their conditioning from January on,” Beard said. “They’ve bought into the program and done everything we’ve asked them to do. But we still have a lot to work on. We’ve got to cut down on our penalties and clean some things up.”
After falling behind 7-0, Denham worked its way into Panthers territory on its first possession but stalled at the 32-yard line when Woodlawn’s senior defensive tackle Quentin Nonette stopped quarterback Torez Kinchen behind the line on fourth-and-10.
The Panthers flipped the field in the second quarter and tacked on two more touchdowns against the hosts.
Brooks got his squad rolling with a 15-yard pass completion to junior Courtlen Walker and later handed off to Javin Myers for a 2-yard touchdown.
Brooks scored again on a busted play with three minutes remaining in the half. The senior signal-caller took the shotgun snap and started to his left but then reversed field, cut inside and slipped into the end zone from 12 yards out.
The Jackets threatened to score before halftime, driving deep into Panther territory in 14 plays. The hosts were hindered by a personal foul call and then helped by a roughing-the-passer infraction. Facing second-and-10 at the 17-yard line, Kinchen rolled to his right under a heavy rush and threw into the hands of Panther senior defensive back Tyrone Jackson.
Denham Springs will travel to Salmen next Friday night. Woodlawn will host Madison Prep.