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October 20, 2006: Poplarville (6-2, 4-0) at Picayune (8-0, 5-0)  

Barry Harper

Dear Maroon Tide Nation:


Eight ball.

Last week I talked about the Maroon Tide being undefeated so far this season.  I compared their season to a game of pool

by saying they have run the table .  This refers to a good pool player who makes every ball without giving his opponent an

opportunity to even attempt a shot. Think about it, no one on Picayune's schedule this year had a shot.  No team ever got on

a roll, no team really got close to winning against the Picayune club.  The last shot in a game of eight ball is the black eight ball

itself.  Well, we are down to our eight ball and it is not black, it's green and gold.  It's the Poplarville Hornets and they have

had a great year.  Yes they are going to make the playoffs for the second year in a row.  And yes, they are a well coached

ball club and they will be a challenge for the Maroon Tide this Friday night.  It should be a good contest with a great crowd. 

I expect four to five thousand to pour into Picayune Memorial Stadium.


I held off all year and I can't hold back anymore.  LET'S TALK PLAYOFFS BABY!

Let's talk first round.  Have you looked ahead any?  Come on, tell the truth.  Sure you have.  Do you know what division we

match up with the first round?  Have you heard of these guys- WAYNE COUNTY , PETAL, WEST JONES and LAUREL? 

I think this is the toughest division in the state from their #1 seed to their #4 seed.  The seedings are not final yet.  I feel it's safe

to say that Wayne County will win the division and who knows where those other three teams will end up.  Wayne County has

won the state championship before and they are the defending 4A South State Champs.  Oh, did I mention they played West

Jones in that South State final game.  Petal is coached by Bubba Davis, who has already won a state championship when he was

the head coach at West Point back in the 80s.  Where does Laurel fit into this equation?  Well, the Tornados upset Petal a couple

of weeks ago.  They have a running back over their with the last name of Portis.  That's right PORTIS!  As in Clinton Portis who

stars for the Washington Redskins.  They are half brothers.  Are you getting my drift yet?  Are you feeling my pain?  It doesn't

matter what seed comes out of our division, even our #1 or #2 will play a tough first rounder.  There's a lot of good teams in

4A in the south.  You've got McComb, Brookhaven, Terry, Gautier and don't forget about Forrest County who is still undefeated. 

It's going to be one of the best South State Playoffs ever.


I don't know how many read The Sunherald newspaper.  In Thursday editions each week, in the sports page, they have a whole

page called PIG SKIN PAYDAY.  I am competing with other car dealerships in picking college and pro football.  We are in our

seventh week and I am currently in first place.  I was starting to really feel proud for myself, but what do auto dealers know about

football.  I will tell you what they know- N-O-T-H-I-N-G,  Nothing absolutely nothing.  Oh well.


Last Saturday morning, my co-host, WHITE LIGHTNING, got me talking about my CB radio days.  You see, in the 70s,

everybody got a CB RADIO, and everyone got a radio name.  It was called your handle.  "Hey good buddy, what's your handle?" 

Well my handle was "BLUE BOY".  I had a blue chevrolet pick-up, "scratched that good buddy, it was a blue dodge ram", and

that's how I got my handle.  TEN FOUR?  How and where and why does Mr. Meitzler {WHITE LIGHTNING} comes up with

this stuff.  Last week I talked about mailing in my prediction.  How about this week we send it out on the air waves via the web.


"Hey good buddy that's a 10-4"    No, it's a 28-0!


Carey Meitzler

This season, between the Saturday Sam Adkins Morning After Show on WRJW 1320 AM and writing this weekly

commentary, has been like walking down memory lane with Barry Harper. First, it was his wedge busting on one kickoff while

at Delta State . Then he reverted back to his squirrel hunting days. Then, it was the Monday Night Saints game. Now, we find

out he owned a CB radio and had a handle: Blue Boy. How appropriate. Can you imagine him with a CB today? “Breaker 1-9,

I'm smack dab in the middle of Pearl River County ”. Instead of radio and TV commercials, he'd be out on I-59 luring customers

to Exit 27. Little Boy Blue, make that Blue Boy, come blow your horn. Ok, maybe not, but interesting to think about.

White Lightning. Now that's a handle.


I spoke to my ol' pal Rob Sigler, formerly of the Picayune Item, now with the Laurel Leader Call. Rob says he misses those

Friday night fries. What? Here's the explanation. On all road games in the past, when Rob rode to the games with us, I would

have to stop on the way home and get some McDonald's French Fries for Rob and my wife Michelle to share. Became a

tradition. I miss Rob-o; he was a lot of fun. He's doing fine in Laurel and asked me to tell everybody hello. Michelle says she

misses Rob and the fries.

The fan spotlight this week shines on my friend Dollar Bill. I think he has missed one Maroon Tide football game in 10 years.

He has had some of his own kids play at Picayune, but regardless if they were playing or not, he's there. Baseball, basketball,

football, soccer; all of them. He loves the Maroon Tide. I remember how much fun we had last year up at McComb for the boys

basketball South State . Bill was keeping an eye on the “paint my chest crew”. We still laugh about how they spelled E-D-I-T

instead of T-I-D-E when they first came out from adorning their paint. Then we had to deal with pouring down rain outside

and trying to position the “painters” in the vehicles without messing up our interiors. Two years ago, he would be at a JV game

on Monday, a Picayune game on Friday, and a PRCC game on either Thursday or Saturday. He loved it in spite of spending

half of his week in his car. He can't just stand back and wait for information to appear in the newspaper or on the web. Nope.

He's always doing research and sometimes he passes the results of his looking on to me; makes me look a little smarter than I am.

He's always up on who has played who, margin of victory, tie-breakers, playoff scenarios, etc. And he occasionally helps his

buddy Fred Cruse with his radio when needed. My friend Bill Hillery is Maroon Tide through and through.


I was in that number. Yes, when the Saints beat the Eagles in the Superdome this past Sunday, I was there in my Loge seat.

My first time in the 'Dome in about 3 years.  I was delighted to be offered 2 tickets on Saturday, so Dale (talk about a Saints

fan) and I made the trek down to the Big Easy.  I said Loge seat as in LOGE section. That Loge is an interesting word.

LOGE according to Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia on the web, refers to seats at the rear of the main floor of older movie

theaters that have wider, softer, and more widely spaced seats, sometimes with a greater height difference between rows.

Ok, this sounds like my kind of seating arrangement. Wrong. Either I have never sat in this level of seating before or I have,

shall we say, "blossomed" a little.


I soon found out it really stands for Little Opening that requires a Great Effort to get out of the seat. I was able to squeeze

into my seat, but getting out was a chore. Early in the game, every time the Saints fans got up in front of me, I tried to follow

suit. To be able to get up in time to see the play was a Houdini move each time. When I was able to squirm left then right

to get to my feet, my knees took the paint off the back of the seat in front of me. If anyone needs to come down your aisle,

guess what? you have to stand; no way around it. I finally gave in during the second quarter and decided to just look at the

jumbo screen at the other end of the field and stay put in my LOGE seat when everyone else jumped up to cheer. Trust me,

it was easier than packing and unpacking myself in and out of my LOGE, not large, seat. I still had a blast and came away

with four observations:

1. Sean Payton is always in control.

2. Drew Brees is one of those QBs that doesn't have a knock you down rifle type arm , but he knows how to manage

    the game and makes smart decisions.

3. Scott Fujita is now my favorite player and Steve Gleason is the wildest, most fearless player I have ever watched.

4. I need to go on a serious diet before going back or sneak in a hacksaw to "widen" my seat if I am in LOGE again.

A few interesting slants on the division 8-4A playoff race. I think this is correct even though I didn't run it by Dollar Bill first.

If Pass Christian beats PRC this week and then beats Long Beach , they are in as the fourth seed at 3-3 regardless of the

outcome of the St Stanislaus- Long Beach game and Long Beach is out.  If Stanislaus beats Long Beach and then beats Poplarville,

the Rockachaws are no worse than a two seed if Picayune beats Poplarville.  Long Beach can do no better than a three seed

even if they win this week vs Stanislaus and then beat Pass Christian.  Interesting it is.


Picayune will finish their regular season with this week's game against Poplarville. In reality, this is the division 8-4A championship

game. I expect it to be a hard fought game as it is anytime the county schools play each other. This one has the added importance

of the implications of the playoff seedings and getting to host a couple of playoff games.


Poplarville's Lance Mancuso has done a solid job in turning around the Hornets football fortunes in his first two years. This team

possesses good skill people in RBs Ike Bowden (6-1, 180, Sr.) and Brandon Peters (5-11, 175, Sr.), and QB Matt Williams

(5-9,155, Jr.). They have been able to score a lot of points this season. Their only losses have been to Lumberton and Forrest

County AHS (undefeated). They beat a very good East Marion team (who later beat Lumberton) and Long Beach.  They will

present a challenge for the Maroon Tide defense. Mancuso calls his own plays for the Hornets and will be matching whits against

his good friend in Picayune's defensive coordinator, Coach Donnie Bond. They've been friends since grade school.  Interesting.

I have known Lance and his parents, Wayne and Lois, for a long time. Great people. I got to know them back when I coached

Lance in Dixie Youth baseball when he was 12 years old.  I always tell Lance that he is living proof that anyone can overcome poor

coaching at an early age and go on to be successful.


The big question all this week has been “What's the status of Picayune's Micah Hickman?” I have received numerous emails and

phone calls on the subject. I decided not to respond because I don't know. I'll say this.  Micah is one of the toughest kids, both

physically and mentally, that has ever played at Picayune.  Regardless of his status at game time, the Tide will be ready to play.

Offensively, Picayune is going to do what they have been doing all year. Regardless of who takes the snaps on Friday, I do not

think you will see a huge difference in the play selection; a good mix of the run and pass. As I stated a few weeks ago, in games

of this magnitude, Coach Dodd Lee and his staff will have the Maroon Tide prepared.  Bank on it. I think the Maroon Tide has

gotten better each week. They know they will have to be ready come Friday and get a little better this week as well to beat the



This game will be won where most games are won; in the trenches. The team that controls the line of scrimmage will win it.  I wouldn't

be surprised to see Poplarville stack everybody and his brother up front on defense (in the box) in trying to slow down the Maroon

Tide.   On the flip side, the Maroon Tide defense will have to carry out their assignments based on the reads they get to keep the Hornets

in check. It'll all be interesting to watch.   Hey Blue Boy, 10-99. It'll drive him crazy trying to figure out what it means. All he knows is



Roll Tide Roll.