MHSAA North-South State Preview

Madison Central quarterback Jimmy Holiday. Keith Warren/MHSAA.

 CLASS 6A

North State: Madison Central (11-2) at Starkville (12-2)

For the second time this year the Jaguars will head up to Starkville to face the Yellowjackets in a battle of Region 2-6A foes. Starkville won the regular season matchup in a close one 14-6. This is the Yellowjackets 15th time to be in the North State title game, while the Jaguars are in it for the 11th time and eighth time in the last 10 years. Starkville is very balanced offensively averaging 186 yards rushing and 158 yards passing per game led by Malik Brown, Rodrigues Clark, Andreus Swanigan, Cameron Hines and Cameron Gardner. Defensively, the Yellowjackets only give up 10.2 points per game led by Zach Edwards, Jacob Williams, Natrone Brooks, Jalil Clemons, and Myles Stone. Madison Central is led by a potent rushing attack that averages 224 yards per game led by Jimmy Holiday, Cam White and Cedric Beal. Defensively, the Jags give up just 13.7 points per game led by Kirkland Trahan, Truett Bourne, Peyton Rea, Kenneth Ndebele and Shacobia Luckett. Jags get job done on the road in a close one.

Pick: Madison Central 21-17

 

South State: Meridian (7-6) at Pearl (14-0)

Wildcats make the trip to Ray Rogers Stadium to face the Pirates in a matchup of Region 3-6A rivals. Pearl whipped Meridian 34-12 in the regular season at Pearl. The Pirates are in the South State title game for the seventh time and third time in the last four years, while it’s the Wildcats 10th to make it and fourth time in the last seven years. Pearl has been rolling offensively averaging 34.1 points per game that is led by a balanced offense that averages 178 yards per game passing and 144 yards per game rushing led by Jake Smithhart, Tylan Knight, Johnny Winston, Johnquarise Patterson and Dylan Kelly. Defensively, Pearl only gives up 9.3 points per game led by Knight, Willie Brown, Jordan Bailey, Darmario Nichols and Cedrick Moffett. Meridian is hot at the right time winners of their last five games led by an offense that has found its rhythm. The Wildcats are averaging 191 yards per game passing and 168 yards rushing led by Tevarrius Adams, Jackson State commit Jaquaris Dean, Eli Stringfellow, Curt Martin and Kendrick Brown. With defensive ends Duentra Hyman (8 sacks) and Jamond Gordon (15 and a half sacks) both healthy the Wildcat defense has been hard to run on. Pirates continue to roll. They always stay focused because they buy bulk 3mmc from laboratory.

Pick: Pearl 31-21

 

CLASS 5A

North State: Olive Branch (12-1) at West Point (13-0)

Conquistadors head back over to West Point to face the Green Wave in a rematch of Region 1-5A teams. West Point crushed Olive Branch 51-7 in the regular season. West Point is in the North State title game for the 15th time and sixth time in the last nine years, while Olive Branch is making its sixth appearance and first since 2011. The Green Wave are led by the potent running game that averages 335 yards per game led by Mississippi State commit Marcus Murphy, Chris Calvert and Nate Montgomery. Defensively, West Point only allows 6.3 points per game led by Jason Brownlee, Xavier Fair, Terence Cherry, Ledarius Glover, Ryan Melton and Antrayvious Brownlee. Conquistadors have also been leaning on the running game that averages 216 yards per game led by Demarcus Ware, Cole Catledge and Cameron Mosley. The Olive Branch defense only allows 12.3 points per game led by Mississippi State commits Jaylon Reed and Fabien Lovett along with Jordan Green and Jerrick Reed. West Point moves to second straight 5A state title game.

Pick: West Point 27-17

 

South State: Laurel (9-4) at Hattiesburg (13-0)

It’s the Battle for the Little Brown Jug part two as the Golden Tornadoes make the short trip down to D.I. Patrick Stadium to face the Tigers. Hattiesburg won in a classic back in week two 20-14. Hattiesburg is the South State title game for the fifth time in history and first time since 1998, while Laurel is in it for the fifth year in row, sixth time in the last seven years and 10th time overall. The last two years Hattiesburg has won the regular season matchup, while Laurel has won the playoff matchup. For the Tigers, it has been all about the offense that averages 49.3 points per game led by a potent rushing attack that averages 222 yards and a passing attack that averages 203 yards per game led by Jared Conner, Mississippi State commit Fabian Franklin, Drexlan Allen, D’Andre Humbles, Raheem Willis and Darius Ruffin. Defensively, Hattiesburg allows 18.5 points per game led by Southern Miss commit Will Robinson, Tadrain Leflore, Raykell Ducksworth and Louisiana-Lafayette baseball signee Dexter Jordan. Laurel is averaging 32.9 points per game led by an offense that is led by a two-quarterback system in Sinclair Ulmer and Xavier Evans. The Golden Tornadoes is averaging 201 yards rushing led by Michael Terrell and Zias Perryman, while Brandon Gordan and Juan Nelson have the top receivers for Laurel. Nigel Nixon, Levi Walker and Quendarious Robertson anchor the defense. Tigers in a shootout at home.

Pick: Hattiesburg 42-35

 

CLASS 4A

North State: Louisville (12-2) at Noxubee County (9-4)

It’s the Tooth Pick Bowl part two when the Wildcats make the short trip on Highway 14 to face the Tigers. Noxubee County won the regular season matchup 35-30 between the two Region 4-4A rivals. Louisville is making its 18th trip to the North State title game, while Noxubee County is making its eight overall and fifth in the last eught years. The Tigers come in very balanced on offense averaging 194 yards per game passing and 147 yards per game rushing led by a two-quarterback system in Maliek Stallings and Armoni Clark. L.C. Clemons and Jaqualyn Smith lead the running game for Noxubee, while Rashad Eades and Kyziah Pruitt are the top receivers for the Tigers. Clemons, Terry Joiner and Miles Smith anchors the always tough Noxubee defense. Louisville is averaging 190 yards per game rushing led by Kenneth Knowles, Kevon Jackson, Dre Shumaker and Deonte Yarbrough. The stingy Wildcat defense only allows 12.5 points per game led by LaWilliam Holmes, Jr., Daylen Gill, Jakevious Whitfield and Ashanti Cistrunk. Tigers get job done at home in a close one.

Pick: Noxubee County 21-20

 

South State: East Central (12-0) at Poplarville (13-0)

It’s the Hornet Bowl when East Central makes the trip up to Poplarville in a battle of unbeatens. This is Poplarville’s second consecutive trip to the South State title game and third overall in school history, while this is East Central’s first time ever to play in the South State title game. If you like teams that run the ball a lot then this one is for you. East Central is averaging 365 yards per game on the ground led by Tony Brown, Cameron Gray, Dylan Grinsteiner and Ryan Evans. Tight end and Mississippi State commit Brad Cumbest give East Central a deep threat in the passing game. Avery White and Andrew Seward anchor the defense for East Central. Poplarville is averaging 409 yards per game rushing led by Austin Bolton, Roosevelt Raine, Antonio Barnes, Tyson Holston and Cory Knight. The Poplarville defense only allows 16.8 points per game led by Ross Barnett, Peytan Graham and D.J. Travis. East Central gets job done on the road.

Pick: East Central 28-21

 

CLASS 3A

North State: Yazoo County (13-0) at North Panola (13-0)

Panthers will head up to Sardis to face the Cougars in a battle of undefeated teams. Both Yazoo County and North Panola are in the North State title game for the first time in school history. This one will be a battle of high powered offenses. The Cougars are averaging 42.7 points per game that is led by quarterback K.J. Jefferson, running back Sylvonta Oliver and receivers Jamarvis Echols and Jonathan Harris. Yazoo County is led by a rushing attack that is averaging 289 yards per game led by Memphis commit Kenny Gainwell, Cherokee Edwards and Devarrio Sanders. The Panthers are averaging 40.6 points per game. Cougars get it done at home in a shootout.

Pick: North Panola 46-40

 

South State: Jefferson Davis County (13-1) at Hazlehurst (11-2)

Jaguars make the trip up to Hazlehurst to face the Indians in a battle of two run heavy teams. Hazlehurst is in the South State title game for the first time since 2014, sixth time overall and fourth time in the last six years, while Jefferson Davis County in its inaugural season and in the South State title for the first time ever. The Indians are averaging 322 yards per game on the ground led by a plethora of backs in Tim Steward, Jahem James, Julius Brown, Tyrek Price and Quamead Stewart. The Jaguars are averaging 366 yards per game rushing led by Demazie Mikell, Jafharis McKines, Lyric Hall, Kyser Booth and James Washington. Southern Miss commit Malik Shorts, Ronald Baker, Kameron Johnson and Marcus Middleton anchor the defense for Jefferson Davis County. The Jaguar defense makes the difference in a close one.

Pick: Jefferson Davis County 24-18

 

 

CLASS 2A

North State: Calhoun City (11-2) at Winona (10-3)

Wildcats will head over to Winona to face the Tigers in a matchup of Region 2-2A foes. Calhoun City will have revenge on its mind after Winona won the regular season game 31-20 back on Oct. 13. Calhoun City is making its 15th trip to the North State title game and the sixth time in the last seven years. Winona is in for just the second time ever and first time since 2010. The Wildcats lean on heavy run game and defense. Defending 2A champion Calhoun City is averaging 339 yards per game on the ground led by Keshun Parker, Treshon Cooper, Jojo Gray and Anfernee Campbell. Calhoun City defensively allows 21.4 points per game led by Campbell, Parker, Chardarius Hill and Jordan Guy. Winona also leans heavily on the run, the Tigers average 239 yards per game rushing led by Jatyler Moore, D.J. Ringo and Jalen Campbell. On defense, Winona gives up 23.5 points per game led by Campbell, Kaleb Hicks and Jonathan Ables. Wildcats get revenge.

Pick: Calhoun City 23-22

 

South State: Collins (12-2) at Taylorsville (13-1)

Two old rivals will meet in Taylorsville as the Collins will make the short trip over to face the Tartars. Both teams have explosive offenses, so there will a bunch of points scored in this one. Tradition rich Taylorsville is in the South State title game for the 16th time in school history and first time since 2010. Collins is in it for the fifth time ever and the third time in the last four years. Tartars is averaging 35.7 points per game on offense that is anchored by freshmen quarterback Ty Keyes. Taylorsville is averaging 281 yards per game passing with Perry Keyes, Malik Strickland, Raven Arrington and Letreal Jones being the top receivers. Tycarious Roberts and C.J. Williams anchor the running game that averages 177 yards per game. Collins is averaging 30.5 points per game and also leans on the passing game as well that averages 199 yards per game. Quarterback Hershey McLaurin leads the offense with along with his top targets in Markel McLaurin, Cyril Graves and Zyrion Thompson. Defensively, the Tigers are only allowing 12.6 points per game led by A.J. Barnes and Danny Blanks. The Tiger defense makes one key stop and makes the difference.

Pick: Collins 31-25

 

CLASS 1A

North State: Hollandale Simmons (13-0) at Okolona (11-2)

Blue Devils make the long trip from the Delta over to Okolona to face the Chieftains. Simmons is making third straight North State title game, while Okolona is making its third trip ever and first time since 2010. The three-time defending 1A champion Blue Devils are led by a potent rushing attack that averages 273 yards per game led by do-it-all athlete Marquez Pam, Demarrius Turner and Tyderius Gipson. Defensively, Simmons has been nothing short of dominating only giving up just 3.2 points per game and has recorded 10 shutouts. Okolona is led by a ground game that averages 274 yards per game led by Jacorrius Standfield, Jacob Buchannan, Deonte Hampton and Kelsey McIntosh. Antonio Buchannan gives the Chieftains a deep threat at wide receiver. Okolona only allows 11.5 points per game defensively led by Brandon Young and Gerquavious Farr. Blue Devils extend winning streak to a state best 39 games.

Pick: Simmons 26-16

 

South State: Resurrection (7-6) at Nanih Waiya (14-0)

Eagles make the long trip from Pascagoula to Nanih Waiya to face the Warriors. Nanih Waiya is in the South State title game for the fourth time overall and the third time in the last four years, while Resurrection is in for the third time ever and the second time in the last three years. It’s no secret what the Warriors are built around this year and that is running the ball and defense. Nanih Waiya is averaging 297 yards per game rushing led by the dynamic duo of Chris Smith and Taemaus Glass. The Warrior defense only allows 9.4 points per game led by Dalton Luke, Shia Moore and Charner Estes. Resurrection comes in as a team that is rolling at the right time. The Eagles were a No. 3 seed heading into the playoffs and have won on the road once already at French Camp in the first round. Resurrection is very balanced offensively averaging 181 yards passing and 140 yards rushing per game led by Blake Porter, Jerry Johnson, Patrick Roth and Caden Hinman. Warriors continue to roll.

Pick: Nanih Waiya 34-21