D'IBERVILLE, MS (WLOX) - The rainstorm that the D'Iberville football team practiced through on Wednesday is like Picayune's rampant rushing attack. You know what you're going to see, so the best bet is to try to minimize the effect.
"They tell you where they're going to run it and they're going to run it right at you," D'Iberville defensive coordinator Jason Hockaday said. "You have to either stop it or they're going to drive it down your throat and go three or four yards at a time. Those guys don't punt the ball. They go for it on fourth down. If it's five, four or less yards, they won't punt the ball. They'll just go for it."
The patient and anger-inducing Maroon Tide running game made its season debut last week by outlasting the high-powered Petal offense in a 40-35 victory. Picayune rushed for 433 yards, including Gerrell Keaton's 217 yards on 27 carries and three touchdowns. Kardarius Cross registered 101 yards and a touchdown on 17 rushing attempts. Sophomore Josh Littles racked up 87 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries.
Sophomore quarterback Skylar Bowman takes over the reigns of the offense following the graduation of Boderick Scott. Bowman finished the game with -1 rushing yard, a rushing touchdown and only seven passing yards but only attempted two passes.
"They've got some great guys, I'll tell you what," D'Iberville head coach Buddy Singleton said. "They block and tackle. Out of the last three years, they've won two state championships. They don't have a lot of guys going to college on [football] scholarships but that just shows you that they're well coached and there's a good chance they may win the state championship again."
Picayune won 38-21 over Starkville in the 2011 5A state championship game. Last year, the Maroon Tide won 42-35 against Oxford the title game after scoring 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
Cross, who was a junior last season, scored the game-winning, 75-yard touchdown with two minutes to go.
D'Iberville hasn't been without success in state championship games. The Warriors won the 2002 state championship and made it to the title game again in 2008 but lost its first game of the year, 12-10, to Noxubee County.
The 2014 version of the D'Iberville Warriors is 1-1 through two games so far. The Warriors won 16-8 over Gautier in the season opener despite turning the ball over six times. Last week, D'Iberville dropped a 38-14 contest to the St. Paul's Episcopal Saints, which is a team that calls Mobile, Ala., home.
D'Iberville actually trailed 14-0 against St. Paul's but came back to tie it with an 18-yard touchdown run by quarterback Andrew Bird and a 15-yard interception return for a score by Ty Peters. That's as close as the Warriors came to a win because the Saints ripped off 24 unanswered points.
"It was just one of those ballgames where [St. Paul's] we had an open date and they were looking for a game," Singleton said. "I knew they were ranked No. 1 in the state of Alabama and we found out. They played a great game."
As far as this week goes, the Warriors have tabbed Bird as their starting quarterback while Peyton Stenum moves to wide receiver.
"They're a typical D'Iberville team," Picayune head coach Dodd Lee said. "They're hard-nosed and run to the football. They play hard and they've decided on a quarterback now so they should get better offensively each week. We're looking for a tough one."