The football series between Oak Grove and Wayne County high schools might not be at quite the same level as the Warriors cross-county rivalry with Petal High School or the War Eagles’ annual face-offs with West Jones High School.
But for the past five seasons, the early-season, non-regional games have served up some compelling football, and neither coach is expecting anything less when Wayne County visits Oak Grove at 7 p.m. Friday.
“It’s more two really good football programs playing each other,” Causey said. “It’s a good game for both of us. It’s great game because they’re going to bring a great crowd and we’re going to have a great crowd.
“Coach (Todd) Mangum’s a great guy, and we enjoy playing against each other and have for a while. This will be the sixth year in a row we’ve played, and we just keep renewing it. I think it’s a good game and a good test to see where we both are.”
Both teams are coming off dominating victories to open the season.
Wayne County (1-0) returned two interceptions for touchdowns and limited West Jones to 109 yards total offense in a 43-7 victory in the second game of Timber Bowl doubleheader.
“It’s always good to win, especially that first one,” Mangum said.
Oak Grove (1-0) roared out to a 31-0 halftime lead and went on to beat Purvis High School 45-7 on the road. The Warriors sported a balanced attack, with 243 yards rushing and 283 yards passing in gaining 526 yards total offense on the evening.
“We played very hard, but we made a bunch of first-game mistakes and I don’t think we’re anywhere near as good as we can be yet,” Causey said. “I think there’re a lot of things we can do to be better. Once we put it all together and keep building on that, I think we can be pretty dangerous.”
Oak Grove quarterback Jon Rhys Plumlee threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, receiver Kevin Barnett made seven catches for 155 yards and two scores and Tyler Taylor had 77 yards and a touchdown on 15 carries.
Mangum said the War Eagles will have their claws full.
“They’re an outstanding Oak Grove team,” Mangum said. “They’re just very talented, very athletic. You look at them on offense, and any time you have a quarterback who can run and throw like the one they have, that can pose a lot of problems for the defense. Of course, it all starts up front, and their front does a really good job.”
To add to its offensive arsenal, Causey said junior running back Orlando Simon is expected to make his season debut Friday night.
Wayne County overcame an injury Friday night when starting sophomore quarterback Zhakerreun Wesley went down in the second quarter with a knee injury.
Senior Zabryon Jackson took over under center and threw for a second-quarter touchdown and broke a 54-yard run for another to cap the scoring in the fourth quarter.
“He came in and he did a really nice job,” Mangum said.
The War Eagles also got three field goals from Heath Mosley.
“We hurt ourselves some with penalties, and against Oak Grove, you can afford to hurt yourself with penalties,” Mangum said. “But if you do get bogged down, you want to have something, and (Mosley) did an outstanding job there.”
As well as their teams played in the first week, neither coach is expecting a one-sided score Friday.
“It’s going to be a good game, a good test to see where we’re at, and a good test for them to see where they’re at,” Causey said. “We’ll be looking at our first home game of the year, so we’re excited.”