Maroon Tide faces Laurel tonight

Published 1:00 pm Friday, November 29, 2013

There is one spot in the Class 5A State finals on the line and two teams left in the South.

That berth will be decided tonight.

Picayune travels to Laurel with the Class 5A South State championship on the line. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., between the bricks at Watkins Stadium.

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The Maroon Tide is 10-2 and the Golden Tornadoes are 12-1.

“We are happy to be in this situation, it certainly beats the alternative,” veteran Picayune head coach Dodd Lee said. “We are looking forward to the opportunity.”

The game will pit the Maroon Tide’s dominant rushing attack against a potent passing attack by Laurel.

Picayune’s Preston Dedeaux has rushed for just over 1,700 yards this season. Deandre Anderson, known as “Rock”, has also picked up 920 yards rushing. Daveon “Hands” Greene and Kardarius Cross have each combined for almost another 1,000 yards on the ground for Picayune’s offense.

“Preston is an outstanding young man first, and he is also one of the best football players we have ever had here,” Lee added. “Rock also plays every play at cornerback in addition to averaging almost nine yards a carry at tailback. Hands does things at times that only he seems to be able to do. And Kardarius is one of the best overall athletes and players we have on this team.”

Laurel is paced by quarterback Keon Howard, who has thrown for almost 2,500 yards and 23 touchdowns, but also 17 interceptions. Howard has also run for 209 yards and five scores, but the Golden Tornadoes are led on the ground by tailback Kobe Drummer who has rushed for 929 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Octavious Cooley, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound sophomore, is Howard’s favorite target hauling in 47 catches for 927 yards and 10 scores. Omar Bayless, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound junior, has 41 catches for almost 800 yards and  six scores.

Cross and Anderson, both about 5-foot-9, are Picayune’s starting cornerbacks.

“They will have their hands full, but I have faith in both of them,” Lee added. “But we average almost 46 points a game and right at 500 yards of total offense. So I think we present problems for other teams as well.”

In addition, Picayune’s defense, which gave up 61 points in a season opening loss to Petal, is vastly improved and has allowed just 14 points in each playoff win the past two weeks.

“This team has gotten better each game I feel, especially our defense,” Lee said. “After that Petal loss, they have taken it one week at a time, one game at a time, one series at a time and one play at a time. They have improved every time out.”

Picayune quarterback Boderick Scott has thrown for just over 1,000 yards and 14 touchdowns in his first year with the Maroon Tide. He has also ran for three scores. Scott is a senior, but didn’t play for the team until this season. He has completed 60 percent of his passes this season, and thrown for three touchdowns the past two weeks in the state playoffs.

The winner of tonight’s game will face off with the winner of the North State title game between Jackson Callaway and Oxford next week in the Class 5A state championship game in Veteran’s Memorial Stadium in Jackson. “We respect Picayune, they are consistently year in and year out one of the best football programs in the state,” Laurel head coach Todd Breland said. “We understand how good they are, they showed that last week by doing what they did to Wayne County.”