The Hattiesburg Tigers (1-0) take on the Oak Grove Warriors (1-0) in the 21st “Battle for the Burg” tomorrow night in West Hattiesburg.
The Tigers and Warriors, separated by six miles and Interstate 59, both won their opening games of the 2020 season.
The defending 6A South State Champions Oak Grove Warriors defeated fellow 6A Gulfport Admirals 52-29 last Friday night at home.
Oak Grove’s high-powered offense went off for 433 yards against Gulfport, with 269 of those yards coming on the ground. The Warriors ran the ball with eight different players, but seniors Courtland Harris and EJ Newell Jr. led the rushing attack with a combined 151 yards and a touchdown.
“They have some tough runners, they’ll break tackles on you. We have to make sure to get to the ball, gang tackle and wrap up,” Tigers’ head coach Tony Vance said.
The Tigers will be on their toes on defense with Kabe Barnett behind center. Barnett was 10-23 with 164 yards, four touchdowns, and an interception. He also rushed twice for 29 yards.
“He’s a dual threat quarterback. He’s one of those guys that you have to know where he’s at at all times,” Vance said.
The Warriors’ defense had a big game, holding Gulfport to just 266 yards while recording three sacks and a safety.
“They’re very athletic on the defensive front, and they like to play a five-man front. They’re aggressive and they fly around to the football,” Vance said.
Hattiesburg pulled off what many considered a huge upset last week against Laurel with a 26-12 victory.
The Tigers’ defense was the story of the game, holding one of the best offenses in the state to just 216 yards and forcing eight total turnovers. Senior defensive back Walt Thompson had three interceptions and recovered a kickoff for the Tigers.
“I challenged [our defense] before they went out to bring the jug back home,” Vance said. “They left it all out on the field and played their hearts out, none more so than Walt. He lead our team in a big way.”
Vance will be looking for his stout defense to show up again Friday night as the Tigers try to contain the potent Warriors offense.
“You’re not going to stop them on offense. We have to try and contain them and limit the big plays and try to take away the ball when we can. It’s going to be a dogfight,” Vance said.
Hattiesburg’s offense played well against Laurel, but with a different quarterback than they had planned to start the season with. Senior JJ Powell led the Tigers offense after fellow senior Jordan Willis injured his shoulder in the jamboree against Petal the week before.
Powell went 7-16 with 101 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Vance hasn’t named the starter for this week’s game and hinted that both guys might see some playing time depending on the situation in the game this week.
The Tigers had a strong rushing attack with senior Jaquez Andrews rushing the ball 24 times for 107 yards and a touchdown. Hattiesburg’s “sparkplug,” senior Chanse Duckworth made a huge impact in the third quarter when the Tigers started to become stagnant on offense. He finished the game with 63 yards on seven carries.
“We’re going to run the ball. It’s what we’ve always done, and we’re going to continue to hang our hat on the run game,” Vance said.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 pm at Oak Grove High School. You can watch the game right here on hattiesburgtigers.com. To subscribe or learn more, click here.