Last line of defense|Brinnon anchors Warren Central soccer in goal

Published 12:00 am Thursday, January 7, 2010

Jamal Brinnon was just a ninth-grader when he first caught the eye of Trey Banks.

During a junior varsity game against Clinton, Brinnon readied himself to face a penalty kick. The shooter fired a shot into the top right corner of the net. In a flash Brinnon launched himself in that direction, extended his long arms and knocked the ball away.

It was a well-placed shot only a few goal keepers could get to. And Banks, Warren Central’s JV coach, knew it.

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“We played that JV game against Clinton and he had 30 something saves,” Banks said. “I called Coach (Greg) Head and said, ‘he’s something special.”

Now a junior in his first full season as WC’s varsity goal keeper, Brinnon is living up to the promise he showed early in his career. Brinnon posted seven shutouts and allowed only nine goals in his first 11 games. “I’ve trained a lot of teenagers and young kids as keepers in the last eight years. His athletic ability is not what I’m used to,” said Banks, who is also an assistant varsity coach for WC and works with the team’s goal keepers. “He’s so athletic that it comes natural when we’re doing things.”

The 6-foot-1 Brinnon’s athleticism supplements a lot of experience and intellect for his position. He started playing keeper as a 7-year-old in the Vicksburg Soccer Organization and never left the net. Once he got to WC, he continued to learn under two-year starter Andrew Sandoz and Banks. Sandoz graduated last spring, and Brinnon as effortlessly slid into the starter’s role.

“(Sandoz) gave me a lot of advice before he left. He helped me learn the position,” Brinnon said.

Brinnon made a splash right away this season. He posted shutouts in his first six games, then held his own during a rough stretch of the schedule just before the Christmas break. Of his nine goals allowed, four came in a loss to Brandon at the Northwest Rankin Tournament. He hasn’t allowed more than two goals in any other game.

“When I come out on the field, I’m ready to save every shot. Not let any goals in,” Brinnon said.

Brinnon’s best moment may have come in the game where he allowed his first goal.

In the division opener against archrival Vicksburg, a defensive lapse on a free kick gave the Gators what amounted to a free shot on goal. Vicksburg’s Chucky Hayden converted the opportunity to break Brinnon’s shutout streak.

The game eventually went to overtime, and then a penalty kick shootout. Brinnon made saves on three of the eight shots he faced, extending the game long enough for the Vikings to break the stalemate. Brinnon also had five saves in regulation and overtime as WC won, 2-1. One of those saves came on a shot that ricocheted off his arms and into his face.

“I was hurting, but I was happy,” Brinnon said.

The Vicksburg game was just one piece of a growing legend surrounding Brinnon. There was also a diving save against McComb where he seemed to fly from post to post. The play earned him the nickname “Superman.”

Banks eagerly touted the fitting nickname. No matter how desperate the situation, he said he knows Brinnon will be there as a last line of defense to save the day.

“He is our Superman,” Banks said with a smile.

Contact Ernest Bowker at