Maroon Tide hosts Laurel in 1st round
The Picayune Maroon Tide will host the Laurel Golden Tornadoes in the first round of the South State Class 5A playoffs on Friday at Lee-Triplett Stadium. The two teams met last year in Picayune with Laurel winning 45-27.
As the playoffs begin, both teams come in with both playing some of their best football of the season. The Maroon Tide has been churning up big numbers on offense led by senior tailback Shaun Anderson who has rushed the ball for 2,110 yards and scored 27 touchdowns. Senior running back David Baker, who missed the first seven games recovering from knee surgery, appears to be getting back into game shape little by little has produced 445 yards and 6 TDs in four games since coming back the week of the Long Beach game.
Both Anderson and Baker both understand their success is due to the senior center Tanner Franklin; the guards, senior Jacob Brumley and junior Darius Magee;, tackles, senior Benny Holifield and sophomore Deonta Reed, and tight end, sophomore D.J. Ruff. Fullbacks, seniors Michael Ferrier and Brian Taylor have been solid in blocking and running when called upon. Senior quarterback Tyler Penton directs the offense for the Maroon Tide which has been averaging 39 points per game and 440 yards of total offense per game.
Laurel's offense is led by a tandem of quarterbacks; junior Sinclair Ulmer who has thrown for 954 yards with 8 TDs and freshman Xavier Evans who has thrown for 533 yards and 7 TDs and ran for 253 yards. Junior unning back Zias Perryman leads the Golden Tornadoes ground game with 876 yards and 11 TDs.
This game will come down to defense and special teams. Picayune will need a stellar effort and produce at least two stops per half and keep the Tornadoes "O" on the sidelines. Laurel will have to find a way to stop Picayune from setting the pace of the game by grinding out long drives, draining the clock, and wearing down the Laurel front seven. Neither team will have it easy stopping the other.
Special teams will be critical, particular kickoff coverage. Both teams have players that can break off a long return and change the game quickly.
The lone common opponent is Hattiesburg. The unbeaten Tigers beat Laurel 20-14 in August (week two) and defeated Picayune 41-37 three weeks ago.
This matchup appears to be another "rockem sockem" affair like the last two times they meet in South State title games in 2013 and 2016.
You can listen to the game on WRJW 1320 AM, wrjwradio.com, the WRJW app, or on Tune In radio. Coverage begins at 6:15pm with the SEC Update with Jason Crowder followed by the Paw Paw's Campers & Cars Pregame Show at 6:30pm with Carey Meitzler (play by play/stats), Todd Meitzler (color analyst) and Donald Balch (sideline reporter).