TEN GAMES TO WATCH — WEEK 12
Brandon (10-1) at Pearl (7-3)
It’s Eat Dirt time as Brandon heads to Ray Rogers Stadium to again face Pearl for the Region 3-6A title. If Pearl wins by nine points or more, then the Pirates win the division. If they win by seven or eight points, they’ll be the No. 2 seed. Brandon is led by a dynamic offense that is averaging 193 yards per game passing and 171 yards per game rushing. They’re led by Will Rogers, running back Dallas Smith and wide receiver Jonathan Mingo. Pearl is led by a rushing attack that is averaging 156 yards per game led by a duo of running backs in Kenyatte Harrell and Jerry Johnson. The Bulldogs snap a two-game losing to their rivals and take the division.
Pick: Brandon 24-20
Tupelo (7-3) at Oxford (9-1)
Tupelo heads over to Bobby Holcomb Field to face Oxford in their Region 1-6A finale. Oxford locks up the No. 2 seed and a home 6A playoff game with a win, while Tupelo needs a win and South Panola loss to earn the No. 2 seed. Oxford is averaging 136 yards per game passing and 107 yards rushing led by quarterback John Meagher, running back Jeremiah Pegues and receivers De Pegues and Dede Pegues. Tupelo is led by a heavy rushing attack that is averaging 207 yards per game anchored by running back Jaquerrious Williams and quarterback Stephon McGlaun. Wide receiver Jordan Jernigan is one to watch and will be a key factor for Tupelo. The Chargers get the job done at home.
Pick: Oxford 21-17
West Jones (8-2) at Brookhaven (7-3)
West Jones makes the highway 84 trip to Brookhaven to face the Panthers in their Region 3-5A finale. The winner of this game claims the No. 2 seed and a home 5A playoff game. Brookhaven is led by a rushing attack that is averaging 161.3 yards per game anchored by quarterback Sevante Quinn. Running backs Jaquarius Edwards and Gabriel Burnett are potent. Wide receiver John Hilbert is one to watch for Brookhaven. West Jones is a more balanced offense averaging 122 yards per game passing and 140 yards per game rushing. They are led by quarterback Alan Follis, wide receiver Jalen Graham and running backs Jasper Jones and Michael Neal. The West Jones defense, anchored by Byron Young, makes the difference.
Pick: West Jones 24-17
Itawamba AHS (7-4) at Clarksdale (6-4)
Itawamba AHS makes the long trip over to Clarksdale to face Clarksdale in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs. Itawamba is led by a potent offense that is averaging 34.6 points per game and is averaging 238.9 yards per game rushing and 143.6 yards per game passing. They’re anchored by quarterback Jaxon Orr, running back Ike Chandler and receiver Davion Sistrunk. Clarksdale is led by a fierce rushing attack that is averaging 236.4 yards per game led by quarterback Cameron Matthews and running backs Queston Skipper and Antwan Wheeler. The Wildcat defense, led by Trejan Latham, comes up big at home.
Pick: Clarksdale 24-23
South Pontotoc (7-4) at North Pontotoc (10-1)
Not often do rivals meet in the first round of the playoffs. They do this time as the Cougars face the Vikings in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs. North Pontotoc won the regular season matchup 29-14 back on Sept. 7. The Vikings are averaging 194 yards per game rushing and 153 yards per game passing led by quarterback Corley Hooper, running back Hunter West and receivers Brendon Fields and Ethan Dyer. South Pontotoc is led by a rushing attack that is averaging 268 yards per game led by running back Eddie Ivy. Tight end Brett Riley is one to keep an eye for the Cougars. The Viking defense comes up big in this one.
Pick: North Pontotoc 28-20
Jefferson Davis County (7-4) at Forest (7-4)
Jefferson Davis County is on the road to face Forest in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs. Forest is averaging 170 yards per game rushing led by quarterback Jacob Brooks and running back Paul Hughes. Jefferson Davis County is averaging 236 yards per game on the ground led by quarterback Michael Carraway. Running backs Kyser Booth, Justin Berry and Ricky Griffith are difference-makers. The defending 3A state champs get the job done on the road and advance.
Pick: Jefferson Davis County 30-20
Lake (6-4) at East Union (7-3)
The Hornets make the long trip up to Blue Springs to face the Urchins in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs. If there is a game where a four-seed upsets the one-seed, it could be this one. East Union is led by a rushing attack that is averaging 169 yards per game led by quarterback Ty Walton along with running backs Joel Wilkinson and Colton Plunk. Lake is averaging 238 yards per game on the ground led by quarterback Mickey Parker and D’Alex Jennings. Linebacker Aaron Campbell is one to watch for the Hornets. The Urchins survive in a close one at home.
Pick: East Union 20-19
Nanih Waiya (10-1) at Noxapater (10-1), Thursday
Two dominant running teams square off with Nanih Waiya and Noxapater meeting for the Region 3-1A title. Nanih Waiya is led by a ground game that is averaging 322 yards per game. They’re led by quarterback Donovan Turner and running backs Austin Sanders, Shia Moore and Devean Turner. The Warrior defense only allows 7.7 points per game. Noxapater is averaging 265 yards per game rushing led by quarterback K.D. Carter and running backs Raheem Hathorn and Joshua McClendon. The Nanih Waiya defense makes the difference in this one.
Pick: Nanih Waiya 24-13
Smithville (8-3) at Biggersville (11-0)
Smithville head up to Biggersville to face the unbeaten Lions for the Region 1-1A title. Biggersville sports an offense that is averaging 312 yards per game and is led by quarterback Quinton Knight along with running backs Quamon Davis and Quonn Crump-Mayes. The Smithville rushing attack is averaging 203 yards per game led by quarterback Octavion Miller and running back Jabril Smith. The Lion defense only allows 9 points a game and makes the difference at home.
Pick: Biggersville 21-14
Tri-County Academy (8-3) at Sylva-Bay Academy (9-2)
Tri-County travels to Bay Springs to face Sylva-Bay in the second round of the MAIS Class AA playoffs. Tri-County is looking for revenge after Sylva-Bay beat the Rebels the first week of the season 17-14 in Flora. The Rebels are led by a rushing attack that features quarterback Cade Shepherd and fullback Greyson Smith. Defensive end Trace White is one to watch for the Rebels. The Sylva-Bay offense is led by quarterback Hunter Sykes, running back Tariq McCoy and wide receiver River Thomas. The Rebels get revenge and the road win to move on to the semifinals.
Pick: Tri-County Academy 24-17