• 72°

Tide can make some history

Last year’s senior class for the Picayune High football team made history as the winningest class on the gridiron in school history.

Friday night, the current group of Maroon Tide players can write a new chapter in the history books as well.

Picayune travels to Wayne County to face the homestanding War Eagles in the Class 5A South State semifinals. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m., in Waynesboro.

The Maroon Tide is winless in Waynesboro, never pulling out a win in five tries all time. Included in that streak is three losses in the state playoffs in the past nine seasons. Because of the way the brackets have fallen, Picayune has  never hosted the perennial power War Eagles in the postseason. Picayune is just 1-6 overall against Wayne County, with the lone win coming to close the regular season in 2009.

“We’ve never made a scratch up there,” veteran Picayune head coach Dodd Lee said. “We’ve played them five times and never beaten them, and we’ve left there with a few heart-breaking losses, especially in the playoffs. Evidently they have a very good football team again this year. We just have to work hard this week in practice, and go up there and give it all we got and let the chips fall where they may.”

Picayune is coming off a 48-14 thrashing of West Jones at home to open the state playoffs, while the War Eagles smashed visiting Gautier 55-7. The Maroon Tide is 9-2, while Wayne County stands 10-2 and has won eight straight games.

Wayne County got four touchdown passes from quarterback David Hodo in building a 38-0 halftime lead. Hodo hit DeJarvis  Chambers on a 65-yard score on the War Eagles’ first play of the game, then also connected with Chambers on a 5-yard TD pass and threw scoring passes of 6 yards to Dashon Philon and 50 yards to Ramik Wallace.

The War Eagles Region 3-5A also got an 18-yard field goal in the first quarter from Brandon McCary, who made seven of eight extra-point attempts in the game. Elijah Pugh ran for a 2-yard touchdown for the War Eagles’ other first-half touchdown.

Hodo, just a junior, has completed 65  percent of his passes for over 1,800 yards, 19 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.

Senior running backs Dallas Sims and Elijah Pugh have combined to rush for over 1,500 yards for the War Eagles. Sims has just over 900 of those rushing yards and has scored 17 touchdowns. Chambers is the leading receiver with almost 900 yards in receptions and 11 scores.

The War Eagles have lost only to Class 6A powers Oak Grove (45-14) and  Gulfport (35-31) this season, and ran roughshod through Region 3-5A going 7-0. West Jones is the only common opponent for Picayune and Wayne County this season. The War Eagles beat the Mustangs 28-17  three weeks ago.

Brookhaven which went on the road and upset Pascagoula 28-20 last week, will host Laurel in the other Class 5A South State semifinal. The Golden Tornadoes beat upstart Stone County 34-28 in double overtime. The winner of these two games meet for the South State title the day after Thanksgiving.