Picayune football intent on improving in offseason

Published 4:41 pm Friday, March 20, 2020

The Picayune Maroon Tide football team got to the pinnacle of high school competition last season before being defeated in the championship game by West Point 38-26.

The loss left a sour taste in the athletes’ mouths and they’ve been hard at work this offseason improving in every aspect possible to try once again to bring home a state championship.

Offseason workouts began when school started back up in January.

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Head Coach Cody Stogner said his players have been working on getting bigger, faster and stronger, so the team could have another opportunity to play for a state title.

Picayune will be losing several key players on both sides of the ball due to graduation.

Stogner said the offseason workouts not only help the athletes develop physically, but also allow players to embrace positions they may not have held previously.

“It’s something you see happen every year. Right now I see a bunch of guys we have, they’re hungry, and they want to get back to where we were last year,” Stogner said.

The workouts are currently focused on a mixture of strength and conditioning.

However, towards the end of April the program will shift into spring football.

Pads will come back out and the team will start participating in contact drills.

The work will culminate in a spring game at the University of Southern Mississippi against South Pike on May 15 at 6:30 p.m.

Stogner said that being able to go full speed in pads during the spring is important for several reasons.

The practices will allow inexperienced players to get some reps, while also allowing the coaching staff to evaluate upcoming talent.

Several starting positions are up for grabs and the progress players make during the offseason could determine where they land on the depth chart.

“We’ll be able to find out, of the young guys, who can step up and fill those positions. It’s also good for teaching purposes,” Stogner said.

Stogner and his players are going to continue to work as they look to improve on last season’s heartbreaking finish.

The loss of important players and legendary Head Coach Dodd Lee means the program is going through a little bit of a transition.

However, Stogner is using these offseason practices as a way to get Picayune back to the promised land of being state champions.

“Obviously the season didn’t end the way we wanted to last year and guys returning are hungry. They’re working hard and I give them credit, a lot of guys are stepping into leadership roles because we graduated good players,” Stogner said.

The team had been scheduled to continue its offseason workouts, but because of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, commonly known as the Coronavirus, athletic activities in the state of Mississippi have been suspended through March 29.