We’ve hit double digits here on News 25’s ’25 Teams in 25 Days’ with Picayune serving as stop number 10 on tour.
That seems pretty fitting, considering the Maroon Tide has hit double-digit wins in six out of the past eight seasons. That run includes four trips to South State and two state championship crowns with a lot of the same in terms of expectations heading into 2019.
“We look like the same team on film. That’s what all the coaches say, we look the same every year. But we’re not the same. The leadership is different. The leadership within the team is different every year and that’s really what makes it up.”
A model of consistency entering his 24th season as head coach at Picayune, Dodd Lee’s 223 career wins rank sixth in all-time among active coaches in the state of Mississippi. For the Maroon Tide, maintaining that standard of excellence starts with hard work — hence the last three two-a-days and players who are willing to run through a brick wall. Defensive end/ tackle Elijah Jenkins said, “Two-a-days all this week, coming out here to work. Getting up 5:15 in the morning and heading down here to handle our business. Come out here ready to win. We compete. Shout out to the offense, they help us with the defense. Shout out to the defense, they help us with the offense. Help us get better every day. That’s all it’s about. Getting better every day. One piece every day leads to a championship team, and I feel like we got that great attitude. It’s yeah, I feel that.”
For as good as the Tide has been as of late, it’s now going on six years since its last state championship back in 2013. Despite making it to the 5A South State title game in two out of the last three seasons, it still hasn’t been quite good enough for a gold ball. Right tackle/ defensive tackle Deonta Reed said, “That West Jones game, it put a lot of hurt on everybody’s heart. And so we let out that hurt on drills. Every drill we go through, we just put that aggression and the anger into drills and get better and better.”
Left tackle/ defensive tackle Timothy Mickle said, “It really just makes me just work harder and harder, knowing we were that close. That just next season I’m going to come back and work harder as a team, and we’re just going to try to go. All the way.”
If Picayune is to make it back to the pinnacle, it’s gonna start in the trenches with what Coach Lee considers to be his hardest working position group featuring several players that have started in every single game of their high school careers. “We have an offensive and defensive line that’s coming back that’s played a lot of football, and that puts you way ahead of schedule. The experience of our offense and defensive line makes it special.”
Special would also be returning to championship form in 2019 with a class that’s never gotten the chance to hoist a gold ball, even though it’s the only thing they think about. “Did we get a ring? That’s the biggest thing. We can go however many wins, that’s alright to win. That’s great to win. But we’re trying to get to the biggest level possible. That’s playing in December, that’s all it’s about. Jewelry on your finger, holding that gold ball, kissing that gold ball, that’s all you want. We’re going to push for that, we’re going to push very hard. And we’re going to come for that.”
“Goal last year and the year before that and the year before that was to win a state championship. There’s nothing like it.”
Picayune starts official practice on Monday with somewhere in the ballpark of 15 seniors. The Tide will then kick off the 2019 season a week late on August 30th at home versus D’Iberville.