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Maroon Tide hosts Mustangs

Picayune has won 10 straight home openers in the state playoffs.

The Maroon Tide puts that streak on the line tonight.

Picayune hosts West Jones at 7 p.m., in the opening round of the Class 5A South State playoffs. Kickoff time is 7 p.m., at Maroon Tide stadium.

Picayune has not lost at home to open the playoffs since a 38-35 loss to George County in 1999.

“It’s always good to get that first game at home,” veteran Picayune head coach Dodd Lee, in his 18th year at the helm of his alma mater, said. “But we are playing a very good team.”

The Maroon Tide is 8-2 and the Mustangs stand 7-3 entering the postseason. These teams have met three times in the past  eight seasons, with West Jones winning twice in the regular season and the Maroon Tide taking a home win in 2006 to open the state playoffs that year.

“I think we are very similar teams,” Lee continued. “They are always solid, they have a very successful program. And they are very scrappy. We will have our hands full.”

Picayune’s only losses have been to Petal to open the season and then to Region 4-5A champ Pascagoula five weeks ago.

West Jones has lost two straight games, to Wayne County and Laurel, entering tonight’s contest. Petal also beat WJHS.

Mustangs head coach Scott Pierson is in his 11th year guiding West Jones.

“He always has them prepared, their coaching staff does a very good job,” Lee said.

Picayune will rely heavily on senior all-state tailback Preston Dedeaux. He has rushed for almost 1,500 yards and scored 23 touchdowns this season.

Dedeaux has also started at linebacker the past few games, including last week’s win over Stone County that wrapped up the second seed and a home playoff game for the Maroon Tide.

“We are trying to get our best players on the field at the most crucial time,” Lee added.

Picayune was up 28-0 against the Tomcats last week and appeared on the verge of extending that lead before fumbling the ball away to Stone. The Tomcats took advantage and rallied, making a game of it against the Maroon Tide.

“That may have actually been a blessing in disguise to some point,” Lee concluded. “It kept us sharp and competitive in the second half. Hopefully that pays off for us this week.”

The winner of tonight’s game faces the winner of the Wayne County-Gautier game next week. Picayune would be on the road against either team.