Tide hoping to play full slate

Published 3:45 pm Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The prep football season either got off to an early start or a late end on Thursday night, as the annual Bernard Blackwell All-Star Classic took place in Jackson.

Picayune’s Ben Luther was the only local player involved in the game, as the North beat the South 16-7. And even though the game features players that have already wrapped up their prep eligibility, the game is always certain to get fans thinking about the upcoming season as well.

Prep practice kicks off on Monday, Aug. 4th, for all four local teams Picayune, Pearl River Central, Poplarville and Hancock.

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Picayune fans, with the Maroon Tide coming off consecutive seasons with double digit wins for the first time in many years, are certainly looking forward to the upcoming campaign, especially because head coach Dodd Lee’s team will be trying to play a full regular season slate for the first time in five seasons.

Due to scheduling and Mother Nature, Picayune has yet to play as many as 10 regular season games since the 2004 season and even that year the schedule called for 11 contests.

“That has been a little unusual,” the veteran mentor Lee, whose team has gone 21-3 over the past two seasons and fallen in the Class 4A South State semifinals each year, said. “Sometimes when you have an open date it works out, but for the most part having a break isn’t good for you. It breaks your weekly routine and kind of gets you out of rythmn. Most of the time, we’d rather play a game every chance we can.”

In 2004, a regular season game at Biloxi was cancelled due to inclement weather but the Maroon Tide, in Class 5A then, still had 10 other regular season games.

The next season, of course, Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc with many prep schedules across South Mississippi and Picayune ended up with just eight regular season games.

Two years ago, in 2006, the Maroon Tide had a scheduled open week on the last playing date of the regular season. And then last year the Maroon Tide’s date with Pascagoula was cancelled because of pending inclement weather.

This season, Picayune has 10 regular season games scheduled, a full slate for Class 4A.

“Let’s just hope we get to play them all,” Lee, who attended Thursday night’s all-star game, said.