By Curtis Rockwell, Sports Editor
The Picayune Item
This was one was over before it began.
Nationally-ranked Picayune won its 16th straight game Friday night, jumping out to a 70-13 halftime lead and cruising to a 84-19 win over visiting Long Beach in Region 4-5A play.
The Maroon Tide, the defending Class 5A state champions, moved to 9-0, 6-0 in 4-5A, and with the win and clinched the league title and a first round home playoff berth in the process.
The Bearcats dropped to 1-9 overall, and 1-5 in league play.
"I thought we played hard," Picayune head coach Dodd Lee said. "We got off to a good start and then they made some mistakes that we turned into points and then things just kind of got out of control for them."
The Maroon Tide ran 10 offensive plays in the first half, scoring on seven of those, and also scored three defensive touchdowns to take the commanding lead.
Doug Cross ran 56-yards for a touchdown on Picayune's first play from scrimmage.
Minutes later, Jordan Dedeaux picked up a Bearcat fumble and raced 27-yards for a score.
Jaylin Dees recovered a fumble for Picayune on the ensuing kickoff, and on the next play Desmond Taylor ran 11-yards for a touchdown.
After missing the past four games with an injury, Picayune's Preston Dedeaux returned to action and he raced 58-yards for a score the first time he touched the ball.
Long Beach's only points in the first half came on a pair of kickoff returns for touchdowns, both by Chad Cook. one from 97-yards and one from 93-yards.
But The Maroon Tide paid no attention, as Cross raced 65 yards to the Long Beach nine on the next series and Preston Dedeaux covered that distance on the next play for the score.
Taylor's 46-yard scoring run on the first play of the second quarter made it 42-13 Picayune.
Less than a minute later, Jordan Dedeaux picked off a Bearcat pass and returned it 8-yards for a pick six.
On Long Beach's next possession, Picayune's Kardarrius Cross intercepted a pass and raced 86-yards for a score.
Maroon Tide quarterback Ben Hickman then got into the action, hitting Michael Castanada on a 20-yard touchdown toss to make it 63-13 with three minutes to go before halftime.
Picayune's Hunter Smith then recovered a fumble,setting up one more score in the first half as Preston Dedeaux scored on a 14-yard run.
Jake Polderman's 10th extra point of the first half made it 70-13 at intermission. He ended up with 12 on the night.
Picayune added short scoring runs by Devin Hedgepeth and Abram Fletcher in the second half.
"One of our goals each year is to win the district and get to play that first game in the playoffs at home," Lee added. "It's good that we have done that, but we still have a lo of work left to do."
The Maroon Tide, the unanimous number one team in Mississippi, hosts West Harrison in the regular season finale Friday night.