High School Sports

There are no secrets when D’Iberville and Picayune play football

Dodd Lee and Eric Collins are more than familiar with one another.

The longtime Picayune coach and second-year D’Iberville Warrior used to clash on the gridiron regularly when Collins coached Pearl River Central.

He’s at Class 6A D’Iberville, but not a lot has changed with Collins’ tendencies, only the personnel and uniforms.

“If you watch us play, Picayune is the same way and we were the same at Pearl River Central,” Collins said Tuesday. “They know what we’re going to do, and we know what they do. There’s no secrets or fooling them.

“I’ve been playing Dodd Lee going on eight years, so there’s no secrets.”

Ground and pound

As the Sun Herald’s Patrick Magee wrote last season, the two coaches have had a profound impact on the South Mississippi coaching landscape. When you take their respective coaching trees, whose roots intersect, into consideration, it’s no surprise that the top five rushing teams from 2016 all have a connection to Lee and Collins.

East Central led the Coast in 2016 with 5,890 yards, followed by Picayune (5,429), Poplarville (5,256), Stone (3,476) and D’Iberville (3,172).

“They’re going to give great effort, be fundamentally sound and as a rule they don’t beat themselves,” Lee said of Collins’ teams at PRC and D’Iberville. “To me, that’s what football is, it’s a grind. I respect him for his philosophy and what he does to give himself a chance to win.”

The Maroon Tide got the better of D’Iberville in last season’s clash. Josh Littles broke free for 204 yards in Picayune’s 35-7 victory. The game was D’Iberville’s first under Collins and there were admittedly kinks that needed to be worked out. The Warriors quickly figured out Collins’ Wing-T attack and eventually claimed the Region 4-6A title.

‘Not clicking yet’

Although the No. 1 Warriors (1-0) have had a year to get accustomed to Collins’ schemes, the veteran coach said he sees a lot of similarities with his team heading into Friday’s game at No. 5 Picayune (0-1).

The Warriors’ offense was inconsistent in its jamboree victory against Moss Point. And while D’Iberville still pulled out a 28-21 win at Tylertown last week, Collins needs to see more from his team Friday.

“We’re not clicking yet,” Collins said, pointing to the team’s execution. “If we make mistakes we won’t move the football. You can’t make any mistakes against Picayune. They’re going to be physical and sound in everything they do. You have to block up front really well to execute.”

There were some positives to take away from the Tylertown win, too.

Collins continues to tout Jaquavis Foster as one of the top running backs in the Coast. He’s already among South Mississippi’s rushing leaders after rushing for 142 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries. New starter Jordan Hartley rushed for 96 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries. He also caught a 50-yard touchdown pass from Mike Kozlowski; it was his only pass attempt.

“I think his debut as a starter was excellent,” Collins said of Hartley. “He’s just a load. He’s about 210 with decent speed and good hands.”

Picking Picayune

Lee came away frustrated with Friday’s 27-24 loss to regional rival Poplarville. The Tide led at halftime but was unable to turn in a complete effort.

Tyler Penton got plenty of playing time last year as Skylar Bowman’s reserve at quarterback. Now he’s QB-1 for Picayune. Although he threw an interception, Lee gave the 6-foot-3 senior a “B” grade.

Penton finished with 48 yards passing. He also rushed five times for 14 yards and a touchdown.

“He has the ability,” Lee said. “He has the body and everything it takes to be a great QB.

“He’s a football player and competitor.”

After serving as Littles’ primary backup, in addition to other responsibilities, a year ago, Shaun Anderson is the lead back in Picayune’s offense. He got off to a solid start Friday, rushing for 113 yards and 17 carries. Typical in Lee’s offense, five other running backs got at least three carries, with Penton, Jortin Raine and V.J. Holt all finding the end zone.

Even with the disappointing loss to Poplarville, Lee remains optimistic.

What will Picayune have to do if it wants to pick up its second straight win against the Warriors?

“Just do what we do, just do it a little bit better than we did last week,” he said.

Patrick Ochs: 228-896-2321, @PatrickOchs

2016 Rushing Leaders

School

Total yards

Yards/Game

Carries

Yards/Carry

TDs

East Central

5,890

264.3

692

8.5

69

Picayune

5,429

387.8

710

7.6

68

Poplarville

5,256

375.4

666

7.9

68

Stone

3,476

289.7

472

7.4

42

D’Iberville

3,172

264.3

515

6.2

45

Harrison Central

2,986

271.5

435

6.9

32

Resurrection

2,941

226.2

510

5.8

44

Pascagoula

2,927

243.9

502

5.8

32

Pearl River Central

2,422

220.2

391

6.2

32

Gautier

2,395

217.7

402

6.0

29

Hancock

2,280

207.3

393

5.8

23

Moss Point

2,094

190.4

427

4.9

17

Bay

2,083

208.3

376

5.5

26

Pass Christian

2,068

188.0

353

5.9

26

St. Martin

1,919

159.9

299

6.4

21

Biloxi

1,907

158.9

398

4.8

19

Ocean Springs

1,832

166.5

372

4.9

17

George County

1,774

147.8

318

5.6

32

Gulfport

1,433

119.4

269

5.3

15

Long Beach

1,282

106.8

373

3.4

19

Vancleave

1,256

125.6

370

3.4

13

West Harrison

1,121

101.9

310

3.6

11

St. Stanislaus

1,012

84.3

225

4.5

14

^St. Patrick’s stats were unavailable

*Stats according to Maxpreps.com

Game plan

What: D’Iberville at Picayune

When: 7 p.m.

Radio: WRJW 1320 AM, WRJWRadio.com

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