September 29, 2006: Picayune (5-0, 2-0)  at Pass Christian (1-4, 0-1)

Barry Harper

Well, I was in that number this past Monday night down in Naw'lins. If you had the opportunity to watch any of the pre-game

festivities before the Dome was opened at 5:30pm, you may have seen me. I was the guy with my face pressed up against the

side of the Dome. I had roughly 50,000 people pressing and pushing me from behind. I learned this one thing for sure that when

they say they are going to open at a certain time, they mean it. It doesn't matter if people are getting trampled to death, especially

a middle age, gray haired guy from Pearl River County , Mississippi .


The game was a sell-out, however, they did not correctly anticipate the crowd that showed up outside the Dome before the game.

They eventually ran out of everything. Let me set the stage for you. Late September, with the afternoon sun shining brightly

without a cloud in the sky, it was hot. We were thirsty and waited in line for 45 minutes just to get a bottle of water, well, you

get the picture. Not long after we got our water, they ran out of water and ran out of cold drinks. The only good that came out

of this shortage was that the line at the port-o-lets diminished.


So here we were, standing on the ramp leading up to the Superdome. There were thousands of people there with us holding their

bottled water. We had no place to go. There were policemen, EMTs, state troopers, and military personnel all among us.

I was hungry, thirsty, and tired and I wanted to get in that Dome. However, until 5:30pm, we were stranded. Does this sound

familiar? I am in no way comparing my experience with what the victims of Hurricane Katrina, but it did cross my mind as I stood



Now, let's talk some high school football. What about the Tide!!! Once again, this bunch played a solid game. Offense was solid

and our special teams seem to get better each week. The defense gave up a couple of big plays, but when you get a big lead,

sometimes it's hard to keep your focus. I am not using it as an excuse, but it is a fair theory.


Where does the Tide go from here? Do they run the table? Do they finish the regular season undefeated? How far up do they

go in the polls? These are some good questions for the fans. I wish I had all the answers for you. A lot of coffee shop talk

suggested that if the Tide could win their first four games, they could have that undefeated regular season. Others said, “Wait

a minute, you never know what's going to happen in the Picayune-Pearl River Central game. Throw out the records, the polls,

and the whole favorite/underdog thing.” Well, this is a fair statement, however, this past Friday night, the 6th ranked, favored

Tide won big. Can they still go undefeated?


Well, we know from last year that Bay High and Long Beach are going to be formidable opponents. We beat Bay High in a

close game and lost to Long Beach down there in a great high school football game. Long Beach went on to win the division

championship. Both of these schools lost some good players, however, they have some good players returning this year. Each

has a good enough nucleus to vie for this year's championship. So, all we need to do now is knock off Bay and Long Beach

---right? WRONG!


Now, here come the Hornets. The who? The Hornets of Poplarville. They have been beat up, beat down, and hovering in the

bottom of the division for the last several years. Last year they got a new coach and got into the playoffs winning the right two

games. They have a new attitude up there in northern Pearl River County . You may ask what have the Hornets been up to

lately. Well, they knocked off Long Beach , 4-0 at the time, last week. Yes, it was a major upset. But, what was most impressive

was the way Poplarville won the game. Long Beach took the lead at 36-33 with a little over a minute left in the game. The old

Hornets may have given up, but not this bunch. They came back and scored with 11 seconds left to win 41-36.


We have four regular season games left. I mentioned the last three first. This Friday night, the Tide will return to the coast to

play Pass Christian. The “Pass” as they are called, is a team that has scored a lot of points this year, however, they have given

up even more points. Remember, the 6th ranked team in the state is coming to their place and they would like nothing better

than to pull off a major upset. We must be ready to play because you can be assured the Pirates will be ready.


I've talked about our senior leadership this year a lot. This leadership has been outstanding and this team needs it now more

than ever. Let me quote Saint's head coach Sean Payton when he was asked about his team being undefeated with their 3-0 start.

Payton said he was concerned about their motivation for next week's game at Carolina . Payton said, “It's harder sometimes

to motivate a team after victories than after a loss. Most players show up ready to practice hard after they lose a game, and

after a win, players tend to want to take it easy at practice.” I agree with that comment.


The Maroon Tide seniors should not let the underclassmen take it easy because they're undefeated at this point. Keep up that

focus, concentration, and intensity you have shown during the first five games.


Could it be a dream season? The Maroon Tide and the Saints are undefeated. My “Fightin' Okra” only have one loss and look

to be competitive. PRCC let CoLin sneak up on them last week, but the Wildcats can still claim a fourth consecutive state juco

championship. Man, that's four rings. I need one for the thumb. I'll just wait until late November and jump on someone's

bandwagon. Gotta go. Roll Tide.


Carey Meitzler


Blessings come when you least expect them. The good Lord knows I needed some last week.  


After listening to the PRCC loss to CoLin, I admit I was a little down. I knew Coach Hatten was coming to speak with me on

Friday at half time and I thought it might be a tough interview after the loss. Boy, I was wrong. Tim was upbeat, honest, and

lifted my spirits about the fortunes he sees coming from the loss his top ranked team suffered. Tim was so good at halftime

that Barry told me on Saturday it was the best interview that I had ever done at halftime. Could be. Regardless, Tim was

blessing number one.


After getting about 2-3 hours sleep on Friday night, I loaded up five 5 Maroon Tide players and we headed toward Cleveland,

MS and Delta State University . I was tired, real tired and the thought of the five hour drive that was in front of me was daunting.

As I was getting on I-59 at exit 6, I ponder the thought that I could be laying at home on the couch watching television with my

eyes closed; I really do that, just asked Brooke or Michelle. But the more I drove, the more I laughed. I mean hysterically laughing.

Again, I'll spare the details except for one line. After watching the PRC game film and listening to the audio from the broadcast,

some of them grabbed a little sleep.  Awakening from his short somber just outside of Grenada on Highway 8 headed toward

Cleveland, Chance Griffith jumped up from his seat, looked at the cotton fields on both sides of the road and screamed,

“I'm home!!!! Finally, I'm at home!!!!”.  Now, you have to know Chance to really appreciate this one. They say that “laughter

is the best medicine.” Well, my prescription was a triple dosage on this trip. The laughter was blessing number two.


The weather in Cleveland was wonderful when we arrived in mid afternoon. It was Pig Pickin' Day ( a big, I mean big, BBQ

contest) and boy howdy, it was awesome. The BBQ was so good. I mean really good. The BBQ was blessing number three.


About an hour before kickoff, the weather went haywire. They delayed the start of the game from 6:00pm til after 8 o'clock.

We left at halftime (9:15pm) and started listening to Robbie on the radio as we headed home on the five hour return trip. We

heard that they had another delay in the second half and eventually finished the game at 12:30am. We were smart enough to

leave early and got home around 3:00am. Knowing when to leave was blessing number four and getting home safely was

blessing number five.


On to the Pass Christian game. Picayune must be careful with Pass Christian. They will try to turn this into an Arena Football

game: let's see who can outscore who type encounter. On offense, they have a lot of talented players starting with trio of

QB/RB Chad Moore, RB Shane Bowser, RB Jonathan Willis. They do it on running plays, passing plays, and kickoffs.

They have scored 28, 35, 45,14, and 27 points thus far. The Tide defense must be ready. They will. They come ready to play.

Take away two missed tackles on the same play and a blown assignment and the stats are much different last week. But that

was last week; come Friday, the Maroon Platoon will be ready.


Defensively, Pass Christian has surrendered a lot of points: 34, 16, 44, 45, and 61. They better be ready for the Tide offense.

Picayune has been very hard to defend for a couple of reasons.

           front are blocking. Ok. I'll buy that, but I'll add that I believe he has confidence in his QB (Micah Hickman) and receivers

           (wides and backs) that have influenced his play selection that includes a good percentage of passes that keeps the opposing

           defense from loading the box (line of scrimmage) every down. But, to win at any level, you have to be able to run the ball.

           Cole, Greys) and the same number at fullback (Meitzler, Bowens, Hinojosa). Fresh legs take a toll on your opponents when

           the guys in reason number 4 (below) are coming at you.

            Tommy Dillard, guard Thor Newbold, tackle Jonathan Billups, and TEs Justin Flowers & Levi Slaydon.

One last thing. I want to tell you a little tidbit about Barry's trip to the Dome he forgot to share. He wore a Deuce McAllister jersey.

Maybe that's why there were so many people around him.  They saw that #26 and thought it was “him”.   No, not really. You see,

the only thing they have in common is they both have car dealerships. Ok, maybe two. Barry is also from Mississippi.

Harper, a Wedge Buster? I still don't believe it. Blessing number...............never mind.


Roll Tide Roll.