Cody Stogner takes over at Picayune with lofty expectations: 2020 5A high school football preview

Here is an inside look at the 2020 Picayune Maroon Tide football team.

PICAYUNE TEAM PAGE | 2020 FOOTBALL SCHEDULE

(Feature photo by Keith Warren)

Head coach:

Cody Stogner (1st year)

Key players:

QB/DB Isaac Hickman

RB/DB Austin Samples

RB/LB Dorian Robinson

Last season:

14-1 (7-0 in Region 3), lost to West Point in 5A state title game

2020 Outlook:

It’s always incumbent on a new head coach to raise the bar set under his predecessor, and newly minted Picayune coach Cody Stogner has his work cut out for him if he wants to raise expectations set under previous coach Dodd Lee. 

Lee retired after last season with a 222-74 record at the helm of the program and Stogner – Lee’s long-time assistant – took over.

There’s plenty of reasons to believe Stogner will be able to continue that tradition of excellence right away in 2020, thanks to a bevy of returning talent on both sides of the ball.

The Maroon Tide returns seven starters on the offensive side of the ball, including four starting linemen – Thomas Daniels, Collen Penton, Kaylup Jones and Garrett Hunter. Those four will anchor a line aiming to pave the way for another 6,000-plus yard season running Picayune’s vaunted veer offense.

They’ll need several tailbacks to replace the production of departed senior Cameron Thomas, who rushed for more than 3,500 yards last season. Stogner said he is counting on a trio of backs – Austin Samples, Dante Dowdell and Dorian Robinson – to get the job done.

Under center, senior Isaac Hickman returns as an ideal trigger-man for the Picayune offense.

“It’s huge having those four linemen coming back, especially with the unorthodox off-season we had,” Stogner said. “You can’t replace a guy like (Thomas), but those younger guys have waited their turn to play and are more than capable of taking care of the ball and moving the chains.”

Defensively, the Maroon Tide should be solid again despite replacing six starters off of last year’s squad.

Up front, defensive end Carson Conner and defensive tackle Lawrence Hopkins return for their senior seasons after combining for 82 tackles in 2019. The Tide will also rely on junior Dekevyion Jones, who made seven of his 19 tackles in the backfield as a sophomore.

Dowdell and Robinson – key pieces in the running game on offense – double as capable linebackers. Those two combined for 75 stops last year as freshmen.

In the secondary, the quarterback Hickman and tailback Samples will double as the two starting safeties, and should provide some stability and leadership while Stogner identifies the best two corners to replace departed seniors Jalen Hall and Leonard Taylor.

“We have a high standard that was set under coach Lee,” Stogner said. “Everyone understands what we expect out of each other. We are always striving to be perfect, and it may take getting through the first couple of games until it clicks, but we feel like we have the potential to get there.”

MORE: 2020 MISSISSIPPI HIGH SCHOOL FOOTBALL PREVIEW

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