Hattiesburg foes meet in cross-town rivalry game

By JESSE JOHNSON,

The Hattiesburg Tigers will play host to cross-town rival Oak Grove Friday night. The two teams that are familiar with each other look for a victory to establish bragging rights for the next year in the Hub City. Only 7.1 miles separate the two schools, which makes this a special rivalry.

Oak Grove has won the past three out of five meetings but has given up the past two games against the Tigers.

Oak Grove is coming off a hot 2-0 start as Hattiesburg looks to find their first win of the season.

Oak Grove coach Drew Causey feels like his team is improving week to week, coming off a 37-13 win at Gulfport. Senior quarterback Cade Crosby completed 10-16 passes for 171 yards and four touchdowns, with all touchdowns coming from four different receivers. The Warriors added 247 total rushing yards, led by senior Nick Milsap.

“We are showing signs of improvement,” Causey said. “We are tackling better, assignments are being executed, and we are limiting what our opponents are doing on the offensive side. I feel like our O-line guys are coming off the ball better. Just staying focused on the things we concentrated on during camp is the mindset we are trying to have right now.

“Hattiesburg has a good football team. They have started a little slow, but they are Hattiesburg. They have athletes crawling the field. They’ve had a week off too so they’ve had some time to prepare for us.

“This should be a really good ball game. They have talented athletes. Number 11 (Anthony Bullock) on defense is talented. Number 15 (Rhyen Brisco) is dynamic and they try and get the ball in his hands a lot. We’ve got a lot of guys we have to key in on and need to be ready to play a fourth-quarter battle.”

Coach Tony Vance and his Tigers go into their third game of the season having last week off. Having started the season to two very tough opponents, Petal and Laurel, his team looks to get back on track.

“We have used this time to prepare mentally and get some rest with our guys,” Vance said. “We are just focused on Hattiesburg and what is going to make us better, in every facet of the game.”

The coach had few words for the cross-town rival.

“Well, I don’t know much about their team,” he said. “I can speak on mine. They (Oak Grove) are 2-0, so I can say that about them. They are always good, even when people think they are having a down year. Coach Drew Causey does a good job over there.”

Kickoff is set for 7 pm at Hattiesburg High.