Tide’s open week could be the most crucial

Published 7:00 am Thursday, September 14, 2017

PICAYUNE — After Picayune finished its first four non-district games with only one loss, the Maroon Tide probably has its most crucial week ahead, and it doesn’t entail a game.

It’s an open week for the Tide, which means the reigning Region 4-5A champions have an extra week to prepare for the newest addition to the district and familiar opponent, Wayne County.

With a third of the season completed, Picayune (3-1) ranks as the fourth best 5A team in Mississippi according to the latest Associated Press poll behind West Point (4-0), district foe Hattiesburg (4-0) and Olive Branch (4-0).

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Although the Tide is the only team in the top five with a loss, they still have room for improvement and stack a lot of proven talent.

Running back Shaun Anderson knew coming into his senior year that he would have to carry Josh Littles’ torch, who now plays at Jackson State University.

The transition was as seamless as an Olympic 4×4 relay exchange, as Anderson hit the ground running this season and is now the third highest scorer in Mississippi. He’s crossed the goal line seven times in four games, and ranks fourth in rushing with 544 yards on 81 carries for five touchdowns.

With Anderson’s productivity this season and with the help of fellow running backs Jortin Raine and Jairice Travis, it doesn’t seem possible that the Tide’s backfield could get any better, but it could.

Prior to the season, Picayune Head Coach Dodd Lee said he expected his powerful, 6-foot and 220-pound running back David Baker to make his first appearance of the season in district play, which is slated for Sept. 22.

However, Lee said he is going to take every precaution to ensure Baker is ready to take the field and will use this week to gauge his health. Baker injured his ACL during the offseason, but is said to be rapidly recovering.

Picayune will use this open week to prepare for Wayne County in Waynesboro, a place Lee said he has only won once in the 11 total matchups between these two powerhouse football programs.

Kickoff is at 7 p.m.