Friendly rivalry: A look at what Friday’s game means to Picayune High

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Picayune Memorial High School Principal Kent Kirkland is a Pearl River Central High School alumnus and thus has seen the Blue Devil/ Maroon Tide rivalry from both sides. However, having worked at Picayune for 35 years, he has an allegiance to Picayune, he said. Regardless of whom he’s cheering for, Kirkland admires what the rivalry brings to the two communities.

“I think the game is great for the community. It brings our community together. It brings our students together in a friendly rivalry,” Kirkland said. “Over the years, Picayune has pretty much dominated the series, but we’ve never had any bad blood. We always shake hands and go our separate ways. I know our kids are always excited about playing PRC.”

Kirkland, who coached the Tide’s baseball team to a state championship, understands the value of athletics to the student body and the surrounding community.

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The competition in athletics has a special way of bonding the people around Picayune and sports teaches the kids teamwork, and games like these build lifelong memories, he said.

“I know we have a young football team this year and we’ve played a lot of sophomores this year because of injuries and we’ve had some losses, but we don’t look at them as losses. We look at them as lessons that we will build on.”

Kirkland believes the school is represented well on Friday nights as the band, cheerleaders and dance team are there to support the students.

“We just have good students here, period. All across the board. All of our activities are successful,” Kirkland said. “At the football game our band, dance, football all want to excel and stand out and have pride for themselves and the school. We take a lot of pride in what we do here at Picayune.”

One of the main reasons Kirkland cites for how important this rivalry is are the students’ tight, lifelong bonds to one another. Students from the two high schools have grown up together from the time they were playing pee-wee baseball to church groups and even attending each others prom or homecoming dance.

“When were not playing each other, I think we tend to cheer the other one on. The two recent years that Picayune won the state championship there were PRC fans up there supporting the Maroon Tide in Jackson. I’m sure if PRC makes the state championship, there will be some folks from Picayune cheering them on,” Kirkland said.

The Tide have their senior pep rally Friday afternoon at 2:30 p.m.