HATTIESBURG • Picayune football coach Dodd Lee had a clear-cut prediction for Saturday’s Class 5A state championship game.
“If you live within 30 miles of Hattiesburg, you should be home for the 10 o’clock news,” said Lee, who is retiring at the end of the year. “It’s going to be a fast one. I wouldn’t be surprised if the game is over by 9 o’clock or before.”
It’s all about the offenses run by his Maroon Tide, along with his opponent in the MHSAA Class 5A state championship game, West Point – the run-heavy split back veer offense. The two teams will play Saturday night at 7 p.m. at Southern Miss’ M.M. Roberts Stadium.
This means the clock will be running a lot more than normal in the day of up-tempo/spread high-scoring offenses.
“It takes a lot of hard work. I believe the game of football should be physical,” Lee said. “To me it’s hard for your football team to be physical if your team is playing 7-on-7 in practice all the time. West Point is a very physical football team, and they intimidate all of the people.”
Picayune (14-0) is undefeated in three championship games and is seeking its first state title since 2013.
The Maroon Tide offense has been virtually unstoppable all season, averaging 51.9 points and 434.4 rushing yards per game. They are anchored by running back Cameron Thomas, who has 3,371 yards and 46 touchdowns.
West Point (14-1), which is seeking its fourth straight 5A state title, is averaging 34 points and 261.1 yards per game on the ground. The Green Wave are led by Brandon Harris (1,191 yards rushing, 18 touchdowns), Jimothy Mays (12 rushing touchdowns) and Dantariyus Cannon (1,106 yards rushing, 14 rushing touchdowns).
“Good old-fashioned smash-mouth football. It’s going to be a fun game,” said West Point coach Chris Chambless. “With us it’s getting to the fourth quarter, and we can lean on the run game to finish it off, but they do the same thing. With us it’s about a mentality, especially in the fourth quarter. Being hard-nosed, blue-collar football team. The way God intended football should be played.
“Any time you put pads on to play a game, it should be physical. That’s what we do.”
In the 4A state title game that will be played Saturday at 11 a.m., Corinth and Poplarville run the wing-T option offense.
The Warriors are averaging 42.5 points per game and the ground game is averaging 298 yards per game, led by quarterback D.T. Sheffield (643 yards rushing, 12 touchdowns) along with running backs Tameron Patterson (1,174 yards rushing, 18 touchdowns), Cayden Betts and Will Agnew.
Let’s get physical
“We look at it the exact same way. Football is a physical sport. From where we are now since my first week at Corinth, it starts in the weight room,” said Corinth coach Todd Lowery. “If you want to be physical, it starts and ends in the weight room. For us having the guys understand the adjustments to the offense and to fix things scheme-wise is what is key for us.”
The Hornets are averaging 31.6 points and 321.3 rushing yards per game and are led by quarterback Blaise Breerwood along with running backs Chase Shears (11 rushing TDs), Gregory Swann (1,076 yards rushing, 10 TDs), Ethan Taylor and fullback Zac Owen (11 rushing TDs).
“It’s a tried and true system, especially if you can do it well,” said Poplarville coach Jay Beech. “In this day of spread offense and defenses having to catch up of trying to stop it, well now that leaves a window to where a wing-T team can come in and get you. It’s a way of giving yourself an advantage against a defense that is normally used to spread offense.”