Hattiesburg and Petal prepare for Leaf River Rivalry

Published: Aug. 27, 2021 at 12:18 AM CDT
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PETAL, Miss. (WDAM) - While it may only be week one, the Leaf River Rivalry has the feeling of a late-season game with both Petal and Hattiesburg ready to compete for bragging rights and a ‘W’.

“We love playing them,” Petal linebacker Zion Edwards said. “It’s going to be a lot of energy, a lot of physicality on both sides. We want to bend people’s face mask in.”

And that’s the mindset going into the matchup with both sides emphasizing the same word: Physical.

“Oh, it’s going to be a physical game,” said Hattiesburg Head Coach Tony Vance. “You know, these guys, they’re going to try to knock the paint off each other’s helmets that’s for sure.”

“Very physical, on both sides. Everybody’s gonna be trying to make plays and win,” Hattiesburg wide receiver/cornerback Jack Jackson said.

With a fresh face at the head of Petal juxtaposed by a familiar face in Hattiesburg, both coaches agree on the keys to winning.

“Well you’ve got to execute and you have to take care of the football,” Petal Head Coach Allen Glenn said. “You know, be physical on both fronts of the ball. Whether it be offense, defense. Then we got to win the line of scrimmage.”

“We can’t turn it over, we got to take care of the football. We got to execute the game plan. I think we have to play fast, and we have to play physical,” Vance said.

Vance and his tigers feel confident behind their returning defensive core.

“I feel like we have a great defense, possibly one of the top defenses in the state and we can go head-to-head with anybody,” Jackson said.

“Hattiesburg’s got a lot of returning guys,” Glenn said. “I think they’re playing a lot of guys that are back, so you know they’ve got maybe a little bit of a leg up in that area.”

And that Hattiesburg defense will be facing a young sophomore quarterback, but they could have a tough time getting through a strong Petal O-line.

“Both their fronts, offensive front and defensive front, really well-coached and play extremely hard and they’re talented up there,” Vance said.

And while it’s just a non-divisional week one matchup, a win can set the tone for the entire season.

“I feel like winning this game would set us up to make the playoffs and go further than that,” Jackson said.

“It would come out and make a statement,” Edwards said. “So we’re just ready to go out and prove what we’re made of and to do it against this team would mean a lot to all of us.”

Hattiesburg at Petal kicks off Friday at 7 p.m.

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