Wayne County to battle Picayune for region title
The Wayne County War Eagles (8-2, 6-0) will host the region-rival Picayune Maroon Tide (10-0, 6-0) on Friday in a regular-season finale that will determine who takes home the Region 4-5A title and a No. 1 seed in the 5A playoffs. A victory for the War Eagles would earn them their first region title since 2013 and their first as a member of Region 4-5A.
Wayne County enters Week 12 boasting a six-game winning streak, their last defeat coming on Sept. 13 to the Region 3-5A-champion West Jones Mustangs. The War Eagles’ offense has dominated opposing front sevens with 261 rushing yards per game, led by senior Zhakerreun Wesley, who has rushed for 1,172 yards and 14 touchdowns from the quarterback position.
The War Eagles’ defense has been somewhat sporadic throughout the fall, but features several talented athletes who can change games from that side of the ball. Senior Armondous Cooley, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound defensive tackle, leads the unit with 69 solo tackles, six sacks and a fumble recovery. Wayne County’s effectiveness on defense has proved to be vital to its overall success as it is 4-1 in games with 42 or less combined point totals.
In order to do that, however, the War Eagles’ defense will have to find a way to slow down the state’s most productive rushing attack. The Maroon Tide offense averages an astonishing 424 yards per week on the ground and leads the state in scoring with 53.5 points per contest. Senior running back Cameron Thomas has torched opposing defenses with 2,282 rushing yards —13.4 yards per carry — and 34 total touchdowns through 10 games. Not one opponent has managed to hold Picayune to fewer than 300 yards rushing in a contest, and only once has the offense been held to fewer than four touchdowns on the ground.
Wayne County and Picayune share a memorable history of high-profile matchups, having met seven times in postseason competition. The War Eagles lead the all-time series with eight wins and five losses, but the Tide has turned recently with three wins for Picayune in the last three meetings. Picayune won last year’s meeting in blowout fashion, becoming the first team to ever score 60 points against a Wayne County defense.