Oak Grove continues to find itself in the driver seat.
Despite a narrow 24-22 win over Brandon last week, the Warriors still sit in first place in its region and are considered to be the best team in the state.
Oak Grove posted 406 yards of total offense, with 237 coming from the ground game. Courtland Harris rushed for 131 yards while EJ Newell rushed for 72 yards and two touchdowns. For Oak Grove coach Drew Causey, last week’s win showcased a lack of execution and bad preparation in practices from earlier in the week.
“We played hard and with a lot of effort, but I was not happy with our execution at times,” Causey said. “I was also not happy with our preparation throughout the weeks. Those are things we will work on fixing.
“Brandon is tough. They probably played their most complete game on offense. I didn’t like the way we prepared all week. I hope it’s a good wake-up call for our guys. We won the game, so we are fired up about that, but we can always do better.”
Last week, Pearl (3-6, 3-2) lost to Northwest Rankin on a game-winning field goal. Despite an 0-3 start to the season, the Pirates have won three of their last five games.
“They are big, athletic and physical,” Causey said. “You don’t know what may have caused their slow start. They could have had any sort of issues, but right now they have it rolling right now. That’s a very talented football team.”
Pearl has averaged just 22 points per game on offense, but the Pirates have steadily improved on their efficiency. Quarterback Shade Foster has thrown for 624 yards and seven touchdowns on 116 attempts, while running back Jamari Thompson has rushed for 785 yards and five touchdowns on 134 attempts.
“Pearl has always been big on the offensive line and has always been able to run the ball,” Causey said. “Their quarterback is a good player who actually started as a freshman when their starter got hurt a few years ago. He’s a really good player, and they are a talented team.
“(Thompson) is big and physical. He runs the football hard. He is definitely a bruiser.”
Defensively, Pearl has given up 31.5 points per game, but in the last two games, heads teams to 20.5 points.
“They’ll play multiple fronts,” Causey said. “They are more of a zone coverage team. Their defensive line, to me, has really good size. They are big and physical and come off the ball really well. We are going to have to play our best football game.”
If Oak Grove defeats Pearl to stay undefeated in region play, then the Warriors would be facing a road game showdown against Northwest Rankin (7-1, 5-0). If the Cougars defeat Brandon, then the two teams will play for an outright win for the 6A Region 3 championship.
“We are not worried about that,” Causey said. “Every game we play, especially from here on out, is a big ball game. I don’t think there is a game on the schedule that you can take lightly. Our kids have taken that approach all year. I’m proud of how they have handled it each week. We are just going to get back to work and see if we can improve.”