It’s tough to imagine two opponents having such different experiences from the week before as Oak Grove and Laurel.
Oak Grove mounted a last-minute, two-score comeback to defeat Wayne County 34-33 last Thursday night.
Laurel, on the other hand, had a 32-6 lead over Hattiesburg late in the fourth quarter of the Battle for the Little Brown Jug. But an improbable chain of events resulted in four touchdowns for the Tigers in less than four minutes of game time, giving them the 34-32 win over the Golden Tornadoes.
But that was last week. In the coaches’ eyes, Friday night’s meeting between the Warriors and the Tornadoes at Oak Grove is all about the present.
“We always preach one game at a time, one day at a time,” Laurel head coach Todd Breland said. “This is no exception. The past is the past, and the future is the future. We’re going to approach Oak Grove this week like it’s the only game on the schedule, go down there and compete and try to get out of there with a win.”
Even with his Warriors coming off an exciting victory in their season opener, Oak Grove head coach Drew Causey is keeping his squad grounded.
“We’ve got a lot of things we’ve got to get better at,” Causey said. “It was our first ballgame of, hopefully, a lot more, so we’re just going to try to get better each week.”
The Warriors certainly have the tools to get the job done. Senior quarterback Alex Ward, the hot hand for Oak Grove last Thursday, played the whole second half after splitting series with starter and fellow senior Reed Simon. The Warriors could employ a similar setup Friday night against Laurel.
Meanwhile, Laurel will continue to rely on an explosive offensive attack that has quite an arsenal of playmakers to keep the Warrior defense busy.
“Laurel’s got a bunch of weapons on offense,” Causey said. “It’s a team that has a lot of big-play capability, so our defensive backs have to really do their job this week.”
As for how his Golden Tornadoes will stop the Warrior football machine, Breland sees his own squad’s execution as the key.
“Watching Oak Grove, I can’t find a weakness,” Breland said. “They’re just a very solid football team that doesn’t make a whole lot of mistakes.
“(But) we like our players. We have to go in and execute what we do, and try to execute a little better than they do.”