Picayune Power: Maroon Tide on the brink of perfection
Back in 2019, the Picayune football team made it all the way to the 5A State Championship game still undefeated, ready to send the legendary Dodd Lee into the sunset with a perfect season. Unfortunately for the Maroon Tide, West Point had other ideas.
Of course, Picayune got its revenge in 2021, but now a second chance at perfection in 2022.
“Man, I remember just after the game how the celebration on the field, seeing the fans go crazy in the stands, and you just want to feel that again and experience that, especially for your last game, and to go back-to-back with a perfect season would just cap it off perfectly.”
Head Coach Cody Stogner said, “We knew as soon as we left Hattiesburg last year that we knew we wanted to be back, and essentially, the state championship game – which we didn’t know was in Hattiesburg at the time – so you’ve got to give those guys all the credit because they set their mind to it when we left Hattiesburg that we were going to be back here.”
Back like they never left, the Maroon Tide still roll tide rollin’ right back to the Rock for a rematch against West Point, fresh off last year’s 40-21 revenge tour victory. Running back Dante Dowdell said, “They’re coming for revenge, but we’re here to establish history, so we want to establish history more than they want to get revenge.”
Left guard Peyton Wells said, “Oh, we’re going to have to earn it just like every game. It ain’t given to us. This ain’t no run of the mill team, I mean this is West Point. This is who we model to be, but we’re trying to get it to where they model after us after this week.”
Overall, their third Hattiesburg reunion in the last four years against an 11-2 Green Wave team that’s been to the 5A State Title game seven years in a row.
Meanwhile, 14-0 Picayune on the brink of rewriting the record books once again, now just one win away from the first perfect season and the first back-to-back state crowns in school history. “History is everything. Everybody knows about their history, so when you can make your own history and people have to follow after that, that’s what you want in life. You want people to have to chase your dreams and your goals that you had set out before you.”
Special teams Karsen Robbins said, “We win, we’re the first team – first Picayune team – to go back-to-back, win state championships back-to-back. Like I said, it just drives us so much, wanting to make history for Picayune, Mississippi.”
Picayune, Mississippi still hasn’t lost since hoisting up last year’s Gold Ball. Currently riding a 25-game winning streak which includes playoff wins over Laurel, West Jones, and Gautier.
The Maroon Tide knocked off its Region 4 rival 49-14 in South State, led by four-star All-American Dante Dowdell, who set a new career high five rushing touchdowns just a few days before receiving his shiny new trophy for 5A Mr. Football. “The whole team is getting better every week, but the O-line is getting better every week, too. And playing teams like West Jones and Laurel with a bigger O-line helps us prepare.”
Shoutout to the o-line, Dowdell already matching his 28 touchdowns from last season alongside three-star recruit Chris Davis, who has 16 house calls of his own. “I mean for the running backs we’ve got, you don’t have to have a big hole and you don’t have to hold it long, so it’s nice to see them when they finally hit that gap and hit their stride and you know they’re gone, just throw your hands up because you know it’s six.”
“I don’t think anybody watches film more than some of these guys we’ve got on our team, and Dante’s one of them. He’s constantly always watching film on Derrick Henry and I’ll just catch him over his shoulder. He’s not watching music videos or playing video games. He’s watching YouTube videos of guys running the ball, so that just comes down to being just a tremendous athlete and like you said, great instincts.”
Those instincts are simply part of the fabric in Picayune, one town, one team, with the Maroon Tide less than 48 hours away and 48 minutes away from winning its fifth MHSAA Gold Ball, ready to make the same memory all over again. “I mean you’ve got to put on from where you’re from. I represent the 601 everywhere I go, so it’s going to be cool to be able to go up there and be the only team representing where we’re from.”
The Picayune Maroon Tide Touchdown Club will be holding a block party style pep rally tomorrow in front of Southern Char Steakhouse starting at 6 p.m.
The Maroon Tide’s game against West Point kicks off at 7 p.m. Friday from USM’s M.M. Roberts Stadium in Hattiesburg.