Hattiesburg defenders smother a Laurel ball carrier in last year's Little Brown Jug game. 

The Little Brown Jug rivalry - now in its 98th meeting come Friday night - has seen its share of streaks for both Hattiesburg and Laurel. Laurel currently faces a five-year drought in the state's longest continuously played rivalry, dating back to 1922. Not to say they haven't beaten Hattiesburg in that period. It just hasn't come in the Little Brown Jug game - its

How does that change? Head coach Todd Breland answers that.

“We have to get better than we were in Week 1,” said Breland. “But I think everyone is in that same situation.”

Laurel is reeling from its 21-14 win over Poplarville in Week 1. A Xavier Evans touchdown pass to Kanarius Johnson in the final stretch of the contest, as well as capitalizing on a Hornets turnover, the Tornadoes left Poplarville with a come-from-behind victory.

Hattiesburg wasn’t as lucky. Against 6A power Petal, the Hub City Tiger fell 38-15 on opening week.

"We beat a good Poplarville team," Breland added. "And Hattiesburg lost to a very good Petal team. So you really can't gauge last week [with this week]. This is Hattiesburg-Laurel. They have athletes, and we got athletes. It'll be a fight."

There's a saying: teams usually make their most significant jump between Week 1 and Week 2. Breland said, for now, Friday will tell the tale.

"We better have a big jump," Breland added. "I thought last Friday our effort and determination were there. It was top of the charts. It couldn't get any better. But on execution, in all three phases of the game, we have to get better."

Breland witnessed the Hattiesburg-Petal Week 1 bout, a game played last Saturday night instead of Friday. In his own words, Breland described Hattiesburg as big and physical.

"They have good skill players," mentioned the Laurel head coach. "Number 15 [Rhyen Brisco] can score from anywhere on the field. I think he had four plays over 50 yards in one scrimmage game I saw. You have to be aware of him and a couple of other guys [on the field]."

Though focus this week has been about accounting for guys like Brisco on the field, preparations in practice have been primarily about making Laurel better instead of worrying with what Hattiesburg may or may not do.

“This early in the season, most coaches would agree that it’s not so much about Hattiesburg as it is about Laurel right now. We have to be sure we get better as a football team. The rest will take care of itself.”

War and even the nation's worst natural disaster hasn't stopped the annual meeting between Laurel and Hattiesburg. The longest win streak is held by Laurel from 1974-1981.

Laurel leads Hattiesburg overall, 47-45-5.

Kickoff "Between the Bricks" Friday night is slated for 7 p.m.

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