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Fans proud of the Maroon Tide win

Many Picayune Maroon Tide fans braved the cold, dreary weather Saturday to cheer on the football team at the Class 5A State Championship. Their dedication and cheers were rewarded when the Maroon Tide won the state title after being behind 14 points in the fourth quarter.

“This was a hard-fought football game by the Picayune team,” said Mayor Ed Pinero after the game Saturday night. “This was the best high school football game I have ever seen. This will go down in history books for this battle. Coach Lee had a great game plan.”

Jimmy Watts, a Maroon Tide fan, loaded up his mobile home with food and a television to travel to the game in Jackson on Saturday. Watts said he cooked up brisket, pulled pork, meatballs and other tailgating foods for all the Picayune fans at the game. The fans ate, talked and watched the other games on the television before heading into the stadium to see Picayune take on Oxford.

Watts, who used to play on the football team in high school, said “it was scary knowing how explosive Oxford’s offensive was” and how Picayune’s weakness was their defense going into the game.

Rocky Stockstill, treasurer of the Touchdown Club, reiterated Watts’ thoughts when she said, “We were nervous. Oxford was a very good team.”

Watts said some of the fans were panicked when Picayune was behind 14 points, but “the guys really stepped up.

“The defense really stepped up when they needed to,” Watts said.

Watts said he thinks the fans helped the team rally in the fourth quarter.

“Picayune had a huge turnout and I think that the fans getting into the game in the fourth quarter really hyped up the guys to get the job done,” Watts said.

When the Maroon Tide won the title Stockstill said, “Everybody was smiling. Everybody was happy and so proud of our boys and coaching staff.”

Geri Grubbs, the stadium announcer for Picayune, said after the team lost their lead, Pinero turned to him and asked Grubbs what he thought was going to happen.

“I told Ed that stranger things have happened in Maroon Tide football,” Grubbs said.

Grubbs said it was the most exciting thing he’d ever seen. He said the team never quit.

“It showed the heart and character of Dodd, Bryan and those seniors,” Grubbs said about the hard-fought, comeback victory.

Grubbs said after the game ended, he and Pinero stayed behind in the stadium and watched the team celebrate before the players headed to the locker room.

“We soaked up as much of it as we could. It was just a great night. I think the planets were aligned or something,” Grubbs said.

Dale Miller said even though his son attends Pearl River Central High School he still went to Jackson to cheer on the Tide. Miller said his wife used to teach at Picayune Memorial High School and his daughter attended the high school, so he continues to support the Maroon Tide.

Miller said he also attended because Coach Bryan Edwards is a close friend and Miller’s children’s “uncle.”

He said he thought Edwards did a great job overcoming the obstacles this season. During the season, Edwards lost two players to injuries.

“It was one of the better high school games I ever watched,” Miller said.

Grubbs said Edwards and Lee are both great coaches and they deserved the state title victory.

Grubbs said just as the team didn’t give up, neither did the fans.

“We would have been there rain, shine, sleet or snow,” said Watts.

“We figure if the boys can get out there and play in it, we can be out there and sit in it,” Stockstill said about the fans cheering on the team despite the 28-degree weather.

Stockstill added that Maroon Tide fans are not just parents, they are people in the community that follow the team even though their children don’t play anymore or don’t go to the school. She said it’s “a lot of people in the community that come out every week to support these kids.”

She said it’s the fans, alumni and community’s support that allowed the Touchdown Club to purchase championship rings for all the players in 2011. Stockstill said some people gave $25 and others gave $500, but they did what was needed to make it possible.

“When you talk about Friday night under the lights, Picayune is a prime example of that,” Stockstill said.

“I’m just proud to be from Picayune. I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else than there Saturday night,” Grubbs said.