Picayune may have squeaked out a 42-35 win over Stone High on Friday night, but you wouldn’t have known that talking to Maroon Tide coach Dodd Lee.
The long-time coach laid into his team after the Tomcats put a second-half scare into his team.
Led by Enrique Whaley’s three, second-half touchdowns, Stone (3-3, 1-2) had a shot in the final minute of the game to at least tie the game before fumbling the ball on a scramble down the sideline.
“I thought we were going to put them away in the first half, but we don’t have that eye of the tiger and we don’t have a defense that has any hunger,” Lee said. “We have the worst tackling defense that I’ve coached here and that’s my fault because some of them are out there who shouldn’t be out there.”
Whaley and Picayune Tide (6-1, 3-0) running back Shaun Anderson put on a show for their respective fans. Anderson finished with 401 yards and five touchdowns on 19 carries while Whaley rushed for 149 two touchdowns and passed for another 140 yards and a score.
While the offensive outbursts delighted the spectators at A.L. May Memorial Stadium, they also drove the coaching staffs crazy.
“I don’t think we’re going to be able to fix it. You can’t fix it,”said Lee when asked what his team can do ahead of next week’s game at Long Beach. “I guess we’ve been conned into thinking they can play, because they can’t. They can’t play.”
Anderson proved Friday he wasn’t going to score unless his team was at least 60 yards away from the end zone, collecting touchdown runs of 63, 64, 72, 74 and 65 yards. On his final touchdown, which pushed Picayune ahead 42-28 with 4:06 to play, Anderson broke free down the Stone sideline, broke down two defenders around the 40 and then sprinted the rest of the way untouched.
“It’s just great blocking and play calling by the coaches,” Anderson said.
The Tomcats started the game with Travis Picco at quarterback and although he did a serviceable job, they opted to put Whaley in shotgun during the second quarter. The move paid off as the explosive senior ended up throwing a 14-yard touchdown to Errol McDonald late in the third quarter and then scoring on fourth-quarter runs of 28 and 2 yards to keep the Tomcats within striking distance.
“Whaley is the best athlete on the team. You’re in a bind with who you’re going to throw it to when he’s not at receiver, but we have some other guys who can step up, Stone coach John Feaster said. “We put the ball in the hands of the guy we knew could make plays. That’s what it was. We knew he could make plays for us, and he works hard. He’s exceptional.”
Never one who takes losses lightly, Feaster actually seemed to trade roles with Lee on Friday.
The Tomcats fell behind 35-14 early in the third quarter on a 2-yard run by Jairice Travis, but still found a way to have a chance at the end.
“We have to learn to play with passion earlier. We tried to turn it on a little too late. I’m disappointed in the first half, but the kids didn’t give up. They could have (given) up,” he said. “We know what we got. We know it means something to these guys. I don’t like losing, but I saw effort. We’re not going to face two better teams than Picayune and Hattiesburg.”
T.J. Polk scored the game’s only other touchdown on an 11-yard run in the second half to open the Tomcats’ scoring.
Stone will travel to Gautier next Friday.