There are only two teams left practicing in December in Class 5A high school football, one of them being Picayune. Head Coach Dodd Lee says his Maroon Tide always expected to be in this moment, playing for the chance to not only cap off a perfect season by hoisting up a gold ball, but also send off the man of the hour in state championship style.
Head Coach Dodd Lee said, “It’s where we expected to be. I really believe that. I think our kids expected to be here. I think they paid the price to be here. And that’s why we are here.”
Picayune’s run to the 5A State Title Game didn’t happen by accident and that price of admission certainly wasn’t free. QB/DB Jakail Myers said, “Hard work pays off. It pays off. We’re going to keep working. We’ve been working for a while. But it pays off.”
The Maroon Tide has gotten every team’s best shot on its way to a perfect 14-0 season up to this point, culminating with Friday’s 49-14 revenge game win at West Jones. “It took time a little bit to come out and figure out and get some things going, but we came together and we executed and we got the job done.”
Battling through injury, the state’s leading rusher in Cameron Thomas still broke off three touchdown runs as a part of his gutsy 22 carry, 244 yard performance.
Next up for the Tide is three time defending state champion West Point. “This is big for us, especially a lot of our seniors. We’re going to give everything we’ve got. It’s our last game. It’s the way to go out and we’re going to give it everything we can.”
“I’m at peace with the way our kids play. I know they’re going to give great effort. I think that’s become the norm here, thank goodness. And our effort will be good and our preparation will be good and my heart is at ease about that and I know if you’re going to get great effort, you can’t ask for anything else.”
But if there was one more thing on Coach Lee’s wish list, after 24 years as the head man at Picayune, it would be his third gold ball, the program’s first since 2013.
Quite the maroon tidal wave of a send-off that would be, a Cinderella story if you will, for the state’s ninth all-time winningest coach. “It feels different in the locker room. You can tell it’s his last year, and we’re going to do it for him.”
“I mean it’s really like a fairy tale. But we’re going to wake up one day and I hope it’s a good ending. I hope the clock don’t strike 12 on us.”
Coach Lee also says after all the hard work his team has put in, “let’s not cheat ourselves by going out and giving less effort than we’ve ever given.”
14-0 Picayune and 14-1 West Point will kick things off at 7 p.m. Saturday from USM’s MM Robert Stadium in Hattiesburg.