Maroon Tide Midgets come up big in state championship run

Published 7:00 am Saturday, January 21, 2017

The midget Picayune Maroon Tide celebrate its first state championship in front of University of Southern Mississippi’s M. M. Roberts Football Stadium on Dec. 10. Submitted Photo

The midget Picayune Maroon Tide celebrate its first state championship in front of University of Southern Mississippi’s M. M. Roberts Football Stadium on Dec. 10.
Submitted Photo

The Picayune Maroon Tide Midget football team won its first state championship in December.

On the road to the championship game, the 9 and 10-year-old players went undefeated throughout the regular season and the playoffs, while scoring over 300 points and giving up only 18, ending the year 12-0.

“I told these kids that if they follow by the three D’s, and give 110 percent every time they step on the grass, they will not be upset with the results,” Head Coach C.J. Wilson said.

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The three D’s are dedication, determination and discipline.

Wilson has coached the youth team for 12 years. He also helped coach the Picayune Memorial High School football team for the past seven years.

“Seeing the love these kids have for the game at the early age they are is really exciting. This group of kids are going to be fun to coach when they get older because they are willing to be coached,” he said.

The Midget Maroon Tide blazed through the regular season, going 8-0 on the road to the post season. In its first game in the playoffs, the Maroon Tide beat Kemper County 30-8, advancing to the second round in which they played Scott Central, the defending state champions.

“We played Scott Central in the regular season and beat them, but this time around was different,” Wilson said.

The Maroon Tide players had a fire in their eyes as they dismantled Scott Central 20-0, which led to a two-week resting period before they took on Oak Grove Black in the third round because of the Thanksgiving break, Wilson said.

In the semifinal game, the Maroon Tide had a close game against Oak Grove Black until the final whistle sounded and Picayune won 12-6, advancing to the state championship against Meridian.

“I will never forget the first drive of the championship game,” Wilson said.

The Maroon Tide elected to play defense to start out the game, which at first was seen as a bad decision. Picayune didn’t give up a single play 15 yards or longer from scrimmage throughout the entire season, but on the second play of the game, Meridian converted a 65-yard run to the end zone, gaining an early 6-0 lead.

“After that play, I knew this was going to be a dog fight,” Wilson said.

During the subsequent drive, the Tide’s first offensive possession, Picayune fumbled the ball on its own 10-yard line, giving Meridian great field position to potentially score a second touchdown.

However, Picayune intercepted a pass aimed for the end zone, and returned it 90 yards for a Maroon Tide touchdown and successfully attempted a two-point conversion, taking an 8-6 lead.

The score would remain 8-6 until the final quarter of the game, Wilson said.

“We had the ball going into the fourth [quarter], which made me and the rest of the coaching staff comfortable,” Wilson said.

The Maroon Tide marched down the field, to score its second touchdown of the game, giving the team a 14-6 cushion with almost a full quarter remaining.

On the following Meridian possession, Picayune forced a turnover, and capitalized on offense after parading 60 yards for a third and final touchdown and a two-point conversion, leaving the score at 22-6 for the rest of the game.

“This was a huge accomplishment for the kids. They worked so hard to get here and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” Wilson said. “We worked their tails off this season, but they stuck with everything we were telling them and that shows true character.”