Ten Games to Watch — Week 11

Oak Grove running back Nick Milsaps. Photo by Chris Brooks

Starkville (8-2) at Warren Central (6-3)

Second-ranked Starkville heads to Vicksburg to face the Vikings in a key Region 2-6A matchup. A Starkville win clinches the Region 2-6A title. Starkville is led by a passing game that is averaging 247.6 yards per game with junior quarterback Luke Altmyer (2,000 yards passing, 22 touchdowns) driving the offense. Receivers Rufus Harvey, Jatavious Lucious, Joshua Aka and Orien Thompson form a great trio. Running back Amariyon Howard leads the rushing attack for the Jackets. Warren Central is averaging 154.7 yards on the ground led by running backs Jerrious Stovall, Malik Sims, Kentrick Thompson and Antonio Thomas. The Jackets claim a division championship.

Pick: Starkville 31-21

Oak Grove (6-3) at Pearl (6-3)

Oak Grove travels to Ray Rogers Stadium to face the Pirates in a huge Region 3-6A game. The winner keeps its playoff hopes alive while the loser could be on the outside looking in come playoff time. Oak Grove is balanced on offense averaging 194.9 yards per game passing and 172.2 yards per game rushing anchored by quarterback Damon Stewart, running back Nick Milsap along with receivers Brandon Hayes, Jordan Coleman, Liam Breithaupt and Tavion Smith. Even with Kenyatta Harrell out Pearl is averaging 236.9 yards per game rushing led by running backs Jamari Thompson, Jerry Johnson and Carleontaye Spires. The Pirates are also averaging 154.3 passing yards per game led by quarterback Gunnar Dennis. Going with the tenth-ranked Warriors on the road in a close one.

Pick: Oak Grove 28-24

Petal (8-1) at George County (6-3)

Fifth-ranked Petal faces George County in a key Region 3-6A matchup. George County needs a win to keep playoff hopes alive, while a Petal win wraps up the division championship. It’ll be a battle of two heavy run teams. Petal is averaging 259.9 yards rushing led by quarterback Decarlos Nicholson along with running backs Micah McGowan (1,201 yards, 15 touchdowns) and Rashad Handford. Nicholson has passed for 1,089 yards with seven touchdowns. George County is very balanced on offense averaging 115.6 yards per game rushing led by running backs Jalyn Scott and Trent Howell along with 114.8 yards per game passing led by quarterback Jonathan Havard and receiver M.J. Daniels. Defensive tackle McKinnley Jackson is near impossible to block for the Rebels. The Panther defense comes up big late.

Pick: Petal 21-14

Ridgeland (7-2) at Holmes County Central (7-3)

Ridgeland heads up I-55 to Lexington to face Holmes County Central in a critical Region 2-5A matchup. The winner of this game will be the No. 2 seed and the loser the No. 3 seed heading into the playoffs. The Jaguars are balanced on offense averaging 184.6 yards per game passing led by quarterback Justin Smith (24 passing touchdowns) and receivers Cory Ellington, Earnest Wade and Ralph Tyes. Running backs Reko Walden and Shon Mason lead a rushing attack that averages 189.7 yards per game. Ridgeland’s offense is also balanced, averaging 270.3 yards per game passing along with 173.1 yards rushing. Quarterback Zy McDonald has had a huge season for the Titans, as has running back Markell Young. Receivers Yamarus Banks and Richard Mays are playmakers. The Jaguar defensive line led by Montra Edwards and Jedrus Watts come up big.

Pick: Holmes County Central 27-20

Center Hill (6-4) at Grenada (5-4)

Center Hill travels to Grenada to face the Chargers in a critical Region 1-5A matchup. A win for Center Hill gets them closer to a playoff spot, while Grenada needs to win out to get in the playoffs. Grenada is averaging 222.9 yards per game led by running back Demarquese Gibson and quarterback Joshua Phillips. Grenada receivers Emmanuel Forbes and Christian Wortham are ones to keep an eye on. Center Hill is also led by a strong running game that averages 257.4 yards per game led by quarterback Preston Newson along with running backs Troy Martin (1,073 yards rushing, 11 touchdowns) and Darryen Hobbs. The Chargers win in a close one at home.

Pick: Grenada 21-20

Mendenhall (5-4) at Quitman (7-3)

Mendenhall faces Quitman for the Region 5-4A championship. Regardless of the outcome both teams will be hosting a 4A playoff game next week. Mendenhall is led by a ground game that averages 174.9 yards per game anchored by quarterback D.K. Jenkins along with running backs Reggie McLaurin and Keshun Collier. Quitman is balanced on offense averaging 153.2 yards passing led by quarterback Jed Lewis (1,518 yards passing, 17 touchdowns) along with receivers Kesean Johnson, Fred Scruggs and Mo Lang. Running back Brandon Hicks leads the rushing attack that averages 194 yards per game. The Panthers get the job done at home.

Pick: Quitman 30-20

St. Stanislaus (6-3) at Pass Christian (6-3)

St. Stanislaus travels along Highway 90 over to Pass Christian to face the Pirates in a critical Region 8-4A matchup. The winner of this game will be the No. 2 seed next week in the first round of the 4A playoffs and host a playoff game, while the loser will be the No. 3 seed and will have to travel. St. Stanislaus is led by a passing game that averages 284.5 yards per game anchored by quarterback Max Favre (2,274 yards passing, 27 touchdowns) along with receivers Dallas Payne (14 receiving touchdowns), Bradley Darby and Connor Ladner. Pass Christian is more balanced offensively averaging 286.4 yards passing led by quarterback Dustin Allison (2,558 yards passing, 29 touchdowns) along with receivers Kameron White, Andrew Moffett and Xavion Paige. Huu Nguyen leads the rushing attack that averages 140.6 yards per game. The Rock-a-chaw passing is the difference.

Pick: St. Stanislaus 35-28

Senatobia (7-2) at Water Valley (7-2)

Senatobia and Water Valley hook up for what is a Region 2-3A championship game. Regardless of the outcome both teams will be hosting a 3A playoff game next week. Senatobia, ranked No. 9 in the Little 10 and No. 3 in 3A, are very balanced on offense averaging 157.4 yards per game passing and 163 yards per game rushing led by quarterback John Michael Foster, running backs Nickisis Sipp and Jordan Osborn along with receiver Benton Williams. Water Valley, ranked No. 5 in 3A, is also balanced on offense averaging 167.1 yards rushing led by running back Dre McCrey and Martavius Rockett. Quarterback Jacob Truss anchors the passing attack that averages 120.3 yards per game along with Rockett and Darius Tolbert at receiver. Going with the Warriors in a close one on the road.

Pick: Senatobia 21-20

Lake (8-1) at Scott Central (7-2), Thursday

Lake is on the road to Scott Central to face the rival Rebels in a huge Region 6-2A matchup. The winner of this game will be the No. 2 seed next week in the first round of the 2A playoffs and host a playoff game, while the loser will be the No. 3 seed and will have to travel. Scott Central, ranked No. 8 in the Little 10 and No. 3 in 2A, is led by a rushing attack that’s averaging 194.1 yards per game. Quarterback Treyon Wash and running backs Elijah Robinson, Jackie Donald and Jabrelynn Vivians make the offense go. Lake is a very balanced offense averaging 131 yards per game rushing and 115.8 yards per game passing. Brady McGee is solid under center along with running backs J.D. Evans, Johnny Johnson and receiver Z.K. Ledbetter. The Scott Central defense is the difference in this one.

Pick: Scott Central 20-12

Nanih Waiya (8-2) at Smithville (7-2)

Nanih Waiya heads up to Smithville to face the Seminoles in a huge Region 2-1A. A Nanih Waiya win clinches the division title, while Smithville needs a win to keep their hopes for hosting a playoff game. Nanih Waiya, ranked No. 4 in 1A and defending 1A state champs, is averaging 240.4 yards per game rushing. The offense is led by quarterback Donovan Turner (12 rushing touchdowns) along with running backs Shia Moore, Devean Turner and speedster Austin Sanders. Smithville is more balanced on offense averaging 176.9 yards per game rushing led by running back Jabril Smith and quarterback Octavion Miller. Miller (1,082 yards, 16 touchdowns) anchors the passing attack that averages 120.2 yards per game. The Warrior defense gives up 17.6 points per game and comes up big late.

Pick: Nanih Waiya 20-27