Picayune and Poplarville receive high rankings in statewide prep football poll

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Two Pearl River County football teams are receiving statewide recognition in the Associated Press Misssissippi Prep Polls this week. The Picayune Maroon Tide is ranked first in the state’s 5A rankings, and the Poplarville Hornets moved up to fourth in the 4A rankings.
Head Coach Jay Beech and the Poplarville Hornets have now won six straight games and find themselves one victory away from their first district championship in almost 20 years.
The Hornets have the chance to put an exclamation point on their impressive regular season campaign with a victory against Bay High on Friday night. The win would secure the District 8-4A championship and send Poplarville to the playoffs with the highest seed possible.
Beech stressed that winning Friday would not be easy, adding that Bay High had won eight of the last ten meetings between the two schools.
“This is kind of uncharted territory for us,” Beech said, “We are just trying to stay focused.”
The Hornets are fresh off their biggest win of the season, defeating St. Stanislaus in overtime on the road last Friday to snap the Rockachaws’ 17-game regular season winning streak. The emotional victory put the Hornets in the driver’s seat for the district title, but neither Beech nor the players are thinking about that now.
“I actually told the team yesterday that we’re not allowed to talk about the St. Stanislaus win anymore,” Beech said, “We’re moving forward and taking it one game at a time.”
Poplarville may not be focusing on past accomplishments, but the character of their team has been molded by their response to adversity. Friday marked their second overtime victory of the season, and they had to come from behind to win against Heidelberg as well.
“Tough and resilient,” said Beech when asked to describe his team, “We don’t panic and we find a way to win.”
The Picayune Maroon Tide outlasted George County in a five-overtime thriller last Friday night to win a state best fifteenth straight game and improve to 7-0 on the year.
When asked about the playoffs and the Tide’s upcoming games, Head Coach Dodd Lee said that Picayune was only worried about one team: themselves.
“We’re concentrating more on us,” said Lee, “We haven’t played a complete game.”
Despite Picayune’s first-place ranking, Lee feels that the Tide hasn’t reached their full potential and have yet to play their best game. Against George County, Picayune fumbled the ball eight times and committed six turnovers.
“We were happy to get out of there with a win,” said Lee, “but we weren’t particularly happy with the way we played.”
Picayune plays its next two games at home against West Harrison and East Central before travelling to Wiggins to face Stone County in the regular season finale. Neither West Harrison nor East Central has a road victory this season, and Picayune has not lost in their own stadium in more than 3 years – an astonishing home winning streak that dates back to Sept. 2011.
Coach Lee, however, is not concerned with winning streaks. He is more worried about getting the most out of his team as they prepare for the crucial part of this season, and he doesn’t want anybody taking winning for granted.
“We got here with hard work, and it’s doing the little things that make winners,” Lee said, “but we haven’t come together as a team yet.”

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