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Preview: Laurel at Hattiesburg

When Coach Tony Vance began his head coaching job at Hattiesburg High School in 2013, he saw the game against Laurel as just another game on the schedule.

“I didn’t understand that importance of the game my first year. We were 6A and [Laurel] was 5A and I was focused on winning divisional games,” Vance said during last night’s Tiger Talk.

Vance and the Tigers lost that game 31-14.

“I kinda got the importance of it after the first one,” Vance said. “I get it now. It’s important to these communities.”

Vance actually did understand the importance of owning the Jug was to each community and went on to win the next four matchups against Laurel in the Jug Game.

This year’s meeting is the 97th between the two teams and is the longest consecutively played rivalry in the state. Laurel owns an overall winning record of 47-44-5 in Jug games.

“I know it’s early in the year, but I expect both teams to be fully prepared and the kids ready to play,” Laurel Coach Todd Breland said.

Hattiesburg (1-0) won their 16th consecutive regular season game, dating back to 2016, against Petal 35-26 last week.

Jarod Conner had 308 total yards with 3 rushing touchdowns and 1 passing touchdown. Vance looks for him to lead the team Saturday night as well.

“I just sit back and watch him lead the team. He works hard and is an incredible leader,” Vance said about Conner.

The Laurel Tornadoes (1-0) started their season with a 55-13 blowout of Callaway last Friday. Laurel ran for 327 yards and 7 touchdowns on a wet and muddy field.

Hattiesburg had a difficult time stopping the run last week against Petal, allowing 237 yards.

“We’ll improve, no doubt,” Vance said. “They have a talented backfield, but at the end of the day we have to defend the football.”

The Tigers and Tornadoes faceoff Saturday night at 7 pm at D.I. Patrick Stadium and tickets are only $7.

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