Petal Gears Up for Top 5 Showdown with Oak Grove - WHLT 22 Connecting the Pine Belt

Petal Gears Up for Top 5 Showdown with Oak Grove

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This year one of the state's biggest rivalries features a battle of the unbeatens.

"Anytime you play Oak Grove it's going to be big so that just adds a little bit more," says Petal senior wide receiver Jesse Jackson.

The winner of Friday's game advances to 6-0, but it's 2-0 the Panthers are worried about.

"Even if you took the rivalry part out of the game it's still a big football game because it's such a big district game," says Petal head football coach Marcus Boyles. "It makes you 2-0 in the district. It doesn't win the district for you, but it gives you a leg up in the district."

Getting that edge means even more in Region 3 Class 6A, a division that features three of the state's four top ranked teams.

According to the AP Poll, Petal is the second best team in Mississippi.

Oak Grove comes in right behind the Panthers at No. 4.

"If you want to be a top five team, then you've got to come play every Friday night and take on all challengers," says Boyles.

But this week's challenger is not the typical opponent.

"Oak Grove, Petal rivalry is the biggest game," says Petal senior quarterback Kyle Smith. "It's the one everyone marks on their calendar."

"As far as [rivalries] go, I think it's probably the best in the state and the most intense," says Smith.

Being a senior, Smith knows this is his last chance to get the last laugh - or is it?

"I think there's a really good chance we'll be seeing them again," says Smith.

The Panthers and Warriors kick off at 7 p.m. on Friday.

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