Defending state champs wrap spring

Published 7:00 am Thursday, May 22, 2014

Defending Class 5A state champion Picayune wrapped spring training on the gridiron Friday night.

The Maroon Tide hosted both Poplarville and Perry Central in a pair of simulated games, each of which lasted about the length of one half of play. Each team ran a total of 24 plays against the other.

Picayune scored four times against Perry Central and three times against Poplarville, without allowing either the Bulldogs or the Hornets to score.

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“I thought we did some good things,” veteran Maroon Tide head coach Dodd Lee said. “We’ve still got a lot to work on though, we aren’t as polished as we should be in a lot of areas. We have to keep working hard this summer, that’s where games are won.”

The Maroon Tide has to replace several key players from last year’s state championship team, beginning at the top with all-state standout Preston Dedeaux.

“I’m not sure you can replace a player like Preston,” Lee added. “It’ll take several players to do what he did.”

Picayune does get versatile standout Kardarrius Cross back. Cross produced the winning score in the state title game with a 75-yard scoring scamper late in the game.

Cross will be one of several players taking snaps at tailback. He scored a rushing touchdown Friday night, as did Jerrell Keeton who is also seeing time at tailback and Trey Wimbrow also scored a rushing touchdown in the jamboree from the tailback spot. Returning starter at fullback Xavier Haralson ran for a pair of touchdowns.

Zach Jordan, a transfer from Natchez that played at Picayune prior to that, picked up a pair of touchdowns one on the ground and one through the air. He caught the scoring pass from new Maroon Tide quarterback Abby Touzet, a 6-foot-2, 225 pound senior to be transfer from powerful John Curtis High just outside of New Orleans.

Jordan and Arrione Vaughn, who missed Friday’s action with an injury, are vying to replace Daveone Greene at the all important wingback spot in the Maroon Tide’s “ground and pound” offensive scheme.

“He had a knack for making big plays,” Lee said of Greene.

Dedeaux signed with Mississippi Gulf Coast and Greene signed with Jones CC, while Deandre Anderson signed with Pearl River CC.

The Maroon Tide has four returning starters back up front on the offensive line, in Austin Ramsey, Caleb Dorn, Connor Bryan and Ethan Frierson. Alex Aaron, who had a long scoring catch in the championship win, also returns at tight end.

“I thought both the offensive and defensive lines showed signs of promise,” Lee added. “We have some guys back on both sides and we also have some depth on both sides.”

Frierson and Aaron manned the end spots on the defensive line while Keith Gaston returns at one tackle and Jessie Hall saw most of the time at the other spot. Haralson, who had a diving one-hand interception Friday night, and Neal Brown were the top tacklers in the linebacking corps while Wimbrow, Cross and Keeton led the way in the secondary.

Picayune opens the season at home against Petal on Friday, Aug. 29th.