Picayune Maroon Tide celebrates second straight Gold Ball

HATTIESBURG, Miss. — If Picayune was to win its second straight gold ball, the Maroon Tide would have to take down West Point for the second straight year, and that’s exactly what the Maroon Tide did on Friday night.

Picayune overcame an early 14-3 deficit, led by 5A Mr. Football Dante Dowdell, who went over 2,000 yards for the second straight season and scored three decisive touchdowns to close out his All-American career, en route to a 31-21 comeback win over the Green Wave.

Picayune now has five MHSAA state championships – tied with Moss Point for the most on the six Coastal counties – and just completed its first perfect season in school history. The 2021 and 2022 titles are also the first back-to-back crowns for the Tide.

Needless to say, the players were ready to celebrate at USM’s M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg.

“My first ring, hey,” said Damarius Magee. “I’m just ready to turn up, man! Let’s go! Hey, let’s go! This is my first ring! We work every day, every day to be right here! We earned it, and we deserve it!”

“I just want to give thanks to my team,” said Amarion Tyson. “We all did this together, and coming back for the second time in a row to win it, it’s a hell of a good feeling.”

“(What does that mean to you right there?) It means a lot. I’ve got two of them now. I can hang both of them up,” said Tyran Warren.

“Like a movie, it’s incredible! Amazing feeling! Beautiful atmosphere, all these fans out here cheering us on, had to pull through,” said Chris Davis. “(Which finger that ring going to go on?) I think I’m going to put this one on my right hand!”

“Tide by 40, Jeff. Tide by 40,” said Peyton Wells. “It means everything. It’s everything we’ve worked for since we were little. You want to – you strive to be on this stage right here, back-to-back, undefeated senior season, you can’t ask for nothing to just ride off into the sunset on.”

“Especially with my brother, Darnell Smith, 41, it’s great,” said Darrell Smith. “It’s a blessing that I got to play with him. We got to live our dream, finally. Just blessed to be on this team with these great guys. Ah! Yes sir! All the emotions. Yeah! Yeah!”

“Yeah, it just feels good,” said Dowdell. “When you get in that victory formation, you get a certain feeling, like we really won this game. We’re really undefeated state champs. We’re really back-to-back state champs.”

“I didn’t know this would come for me, just working so hard to get here, just playing my hardest,” said Zavion Coleman. “It’s just amazing. I couldn’t ask for nothing better.”

“We’ve thought about this all year, like going back-to-back and going 14-0, which has never been done, and it was pretty exciting to actually accomplish that,” said Brady Robertson. “I mean I teared up because the hard work that we’ve put in, it’s unbelievable.”

“(Coach, fresh off back-to-back, I know we just talked about it, but how sweet is this one? Just to do it once, and now twice, 26 wins in a row, two state championships, how do you soak all this in?) They’re all sweet, but it’s just so sweet because you don’t know if you’re ever going to get back here because it’s so hard,” said Picayune head coach Cody Stogner. “It takes a lot of work, effort and luck. It’s so sweet because these guys put forth as their mission when we left here a year ago, they wanted to be back here and they wanted to go back-to-back. And they haven’t even made it to the locker room, and the younger classmen are already talking about a three-peat, and we’ve got a long ways to go and we’ve got a lot of work to do and we’ve got to figure out some things, but the good thing is, we’ve got a long time to get there. So, we’re going to soak this one up, let it sink in, probably by this weekend or so, and I can’t wait to go home and shave either, man. I’m so tired of this thing. (Playoff beard?) Playoff beard. Give all the guys the credit. The coaches, these players, because they’re the ones who’ve earned this. They’re the ones who won it.”

“Well, congratulations and let’s get to work on that three-peat.”

“Let’s go, baby!”

Categories: Featured, Local Sports, Sports