Not many first-time high school head football coaches have enjoyed the success Picayune’s Cody Stogner has since replacing legendary Maroon Tide coach Dodd Lee three years ago.
All Stogner has done is lead his team to 27 straight wins against in-state schools and guide the Maroon Tide to back-to-back state championships. Their last loss to an in-state foe came 720 days ago today (9-8-2021), when they lost on the road to D’Iberville. Picayune returns to Warrior Stadium tonight to face DHS for the first time since that loss two years ago.
But coaching on any level was not first on his career list after graduating from Picayune. Stogner, a two-sport standout as an offensive lineman and catcher, was instrumental in helping the Maroon Tide win a state baseball title in 2002. He signed a football scholarship with Nicholls (La.) State to continue his education.
“I actually wanted to be a marine biologist,” said Stogner. “One day, someone told me it would be hard to find a job, which come to find out, was a lie. So after that, I knew my time playing was going to end at some point. I love competition and the game and going into coaching was the best way to sort of fill that void. But once I started and saw how I was making an impact on young peoples lives, I was hooked.”
Stogner joined Lee’s staff as an assistant coach and was part of the 2011 and 2013 state championship teams. He was tabbed to replace Lee. who retired after the 2019 season.
He said he relied on his mentor’s guidance at times when he first took the reins of the program, but added another current longtime Maroon Tide coach has also been very helpful.
“I also have Coach (Brian) Edwards, another mentor of mine, coaching with me and to be that guy to lean on as well,” said Stogner. Edwards has been on the Maroon Tide staff since Lee became head coach in the 90s.
That continuity of the coaching staff is what Stogner said he believes is the difference between Picayune and other schools that has made the Tide so successful, as well as the strong youth program.
“The MTXE (Mental Toughness and Xtra Effort) mentality is being started at an earlier age,” said Stogner. “Our youth programs are running what we do, as well as our junior high programs. The foundation is being set an early age and I feel like that has been beneficial.”
Picayune hadn’t lost a game since Sept. 17, 2021, when they fell to this week’s opponent, D’Iberville. But Baton Rouge Catholic stunned the Maroon Tide in their home opener Friday at Lee-Triplett Stadium with a controversial 36-35 decision.
In a tied game in overtime, Bears quarterback Daniel Beale out-raced the Picayune pursuit to the pylon and appeared to have his knee hit the ground before the ball crossed the goal line for the 2-point try. The referees ruled he’s crossed the goal line and Catholic took the win, handing Picayune their first home loss in 1,022 days,
“We never really focused on the win streak,” said Stogner following the loss. “It was a pretty good accomplishment of the players over the last two years. But win or lose we always preach that once Friday night is over we are back to 0-0.”
Picayune will try to start another win streak Friday when they travel to D’Iberville.
Asked what it’s been like to be the head coach of his alma mater and be so successful, Stogner said it’s been a blessing.
“It has been awesome being able to be blessed enough to be put into this position and that the school had faith in me to continue the program,” said Stogner. “The success is simple. It comes from the players and assistant coaches. I’m surrounded by the best in the state.”
It’s hard to argue with that.
The Maroon Tide has produced some outstanding Division I football talent over the past decade-plus, including two standout seniors on the current roster.
Chris Davis, a 5-9, 175-pound running back, who has committed to Stanford, rushed for 263 yards and four touchdowns this past Friday. Edge rusher Jamonta Waller has committed to Florida.
Asked how difficult has it been to exceed the standard that has been set with four state championships in the last 12 years, knowing every week Picayune has that target on their back of being the team to beat, Stogner said it’s very hard.
“But I feel like our players and coaches accept the challenge daily because we are always striving to be the best, to be perfect,” said Stogner.