In less than 48 hours, Oak Grove and Hattiesburg will square off in what most consider a rivalry game by the thousands of fans in the Forrest and Lamar County areas. Oak Grove is the higher classification school as they sit in 6A football. However, Hattiesburg's 5A classification has not let that deter them from taking thrilling victories over the Warriors recently.
Here are some things you should know before these two perennial playoff contenders square off.
Quarterback play will be vital for both teams
Last season you could have said quarterback play would be vital, but for different reasons. Both Hattiesburg and Oak Grove had established starters who have gone on to play next-level football at Ole Miss.
Oak Grove seems to have found their starter at quarterback in Damon Stewart who transferred from Chattahoochee High School in Alpharetta, Georgia. The senior signal-caller has thrown six passing touchdowns for 409 yards while rushing for 92 yards and one touchdown. Stewart came on in July after dealing with nagging injuries but has shown to be a dynamic player on offense.
Hattiesburg’s quest for replacing their starting quarterback has not been as easy of a transition. Through two games this season, the Tigers have lined three quarterbacks behind center. Senior Anthony Bullock, junior Jordan Willis, and sophomore JJ Powell have all taken snaps. Powell and Bullock both have touchdown passes to their credit.
Speaking of transfers
While Oak Grove brings a transfer at quarterback, Hattiesburg brings in a do-it-all type of player on their team. Senior Rhyen Brisco transferred from North Forrest this past off-season and has played well for the Tigers.
Brisco has totaled three touchdowns in two games and has amassed 383 total yards. Versus Petal, Brisco had 106 receptions yards along with 67 rush yards and two total touchdowns. Against Laurel, he had 11 receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown while collecting 28 rushing yards.
A tie will be broken between head coaches
Hattiesburg head coach Tony Vance and Oak Grove head coach Drew Causey are currently locked up at 2-2 versus one another in this rivalry.
Causey and the Warriors took the first two games as Oak Grove defeated Hattiesburg in Causey’s first season as coach 38-22. He followed that up the next season with a close 48-41 victory.
Vance has had Causey’s number the past two seasons though, as the Tigers roared to a 42-28 victory in 2017, then a huge 51-19 victory last season.
Both of these coaches have had stellar careers at their respective schools, as Vance holds an overall record of 53-28 and 32-10 region record, while Causey holds a 35-18 overall record and 18-10 region record.
Oak Grove leads the series against Hattiesburg 12-7 with 632 points for and 468 points against.
Oak Grove is 2-0 with victories over Wayne County and Gulfport.
Hattiesburg is 0-2 with losses to Petal and Laurel.
The Tigers play host this Friday night. The last time they faced off with Hattiesburg as host, Vance’s Tigers defeated Oak Grove 42-28.
This game is slated for kickoff at 7 p.m.