Ten Games to Watch — Week 12

Oxford (9-1) at Tupelo (7-3)

No. 7 Oxford travels to Renesant Field to face Tupelo in their Region 1-6A finale. Oxford clinches the division title with a win, while Tupelo has to win by 11 points or more to claim the division title. Oxford is balanced on offense averaging 160.4 yards per game rushing and 132.1 yards per game passing anchored by quarterback John Meagher. J.J. Pegues is a definite mismatch on the outside and Kelvin Wadley also helps lead the ground game for the Chargers. Tupelo is also very balanced on offense averaging 181.4 yards per game passing anchored by quarterback Jake Weir along with receivers in Ole Miss commit Jaycob Horn (743 yards receiving, 7 touchdowns) and Trip Wilson. Running back David Hayes anchors a rushing attack that averages 175.1 yards per game. The Oxford defense comes up big late.

Pick: Oxford 24-21

Pearl (6-4) at Brandon (7-4)

It’s “Eat Dirt” time as Pearl makes the short eight-mile trip over to Brandon to face the rival Bulldogs in their Region 3-6A finale. The winner will be in the playoffs, while the loser will be out. Pearl is averaging 228.3 yards per game rushing led by running backs Jamari Thompson, Jerry Johnson and Carleontaye Spires. The Pirates are also averaging 137.1 passing yards per game led by quarterback Gunnar Dennis. Brandon will lean on a passing attack that averages 248.3 yards per game led by quarterback Will Rogers along with receivers Ashton Nickelberry, Ladarius Moore and Joshua Montague. This game could go either way, but the Dogs get the job done at home.

Pick: Brandon 28-27

Picayune (10-0) at Wayne County (8-2)

No. 1 Picayune heads up to Waynesboro to face Wayne County for the Region 4-5A championship. Regardless of the outcome each team will be hosting a first round Class 5A playoff game next week. It’ll be a battle of two-heavy run teams. The Picayune offense averages 424 yards per game will be anchored by quarterback Jakail Myers along with running backs Cameron Thomas (2,282 yards, 32 touchdowns), Austin Samples, Jalen Hall and Kade Turnage. Wayne County is averaging 261.8 yards per game rushing led by quarterback Zhakerrean Wesley along with running backs Shadamien Williamson and Kelnevious Walley. The Maroon Tide defense only allows 12.5 points per game and is the difference in this one.

Pick: Picayune 31-20

Provine (9-2) at Ridgeland (7-3)

Provine faces Ridgeland in a key Region 2-5A matchup. The winner of this game will be the No. 3 seed, while the loser will be the No. 4 seed. Ridgeland is led by a balanced offense that averages 262.8 yards per game passing along with 168.6 yards rushing led by quarterback Zy McDonald (2,594 yards passing, 18 touchdowns), running back Markell Young along with receivers Yamarus Banks and Richard Mays. The Rams are balanced offensively averaging 131 yards per game rushing and 127.6 yards per game passing. Quarterback Shavario Allen (20 passing touchdowns), promising junior receiver Deion Smith (16 touchdown catches) and running back Marktavius Reed. The Titans clinch the No. 3 seed at home.

Pick: Ridgeland 28-21

St. Stanislaus (6-4) at Poplarville (5-5)

St. Stanislaus travels up to Poplarville to face the Hornets in the first round of the Class 4A playoffs. Poplarville is led by a ground game that averages 274.3 yards per game led by quarterback Blaise Breerwood along with running backs Chase Shears, Gregory Swann and Ethan Taylor. St. Stanislaus is led by a fierce passing attack that averages 279 yards per game led by quarterback Max Favre (2,517 yards passing, 33 touchdowns) along with receivers Dallas Payne (17 receiving touchdowns), Bradley Darby and Connor Ladner. The Hornet ground game will be the difference.

Pick: Poplarville 27-20

North Panola (7-3) at Booneville (8-2)

Booneville could be on upset alert as the top-seeded Blue Devils face a solid North Panola team in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs. Booneville is really good on offense averaging 161.3 yards passing and 154.7 yards rushing per game led by quarterback John D. Deaton, running back Davian Price (1,122 yards rushing, 19 touchdowns) and receiver L.J. Shumpert. Still, North Panola is averaging 169.7 yards per game on the ground led by quarterback Cadarrius Pride, along with running backs Davonte Pratcher and Lemekin Walls. The Cougars also average 128.3 yards passing with receiver Carl Robinson a real game-changer. The Blue Devils avoid the upset at home and move on.

Pick: Booneville 28-26

Houston (7-3) at Winona (8-2)

The Hilltoppers head over to Winona to face the Tigers in the first round of the Class 3A playoffs. Winona is a very balanced offense averaging 273.8 yards rushing and 184 yards passing per game. Quarterback and Ole Miss commit Andarius Coffey (1,814 yards passing, 21 touchdowns; 1,542 yards rushing, 23 touchdowns) makes this offense go. Running back Blake Cooper and receiver Robert McMath are also keys. Houston is averaging 261.4 yards per game rushing led by quarterback Martravius Parker along with running backs Bobby Townsend and Allen Robertson. Robertson also leads a Topper defense that allows just 14.3 points per game and that’s the difference.

Pick: Houston 16-13

Lake (8-2) at Enterprise-Clarke (9-1)

Lake travels to Enterprise to face the Bulldogs in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs in what many that the road team can come away with a win. 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. Enterprise-Clarke is led by a rushing attack that is averaging 304 yards per game anchored by quarterback Derryon Gray along with running backs Kristian Milsap, John Campbell and Ridge Kidd. The Hornets get the job done on the road in a close one.

Pick: Lake 21-14

Bay Springs (9-2) at Scott Central (8-2)

This is one of the best first round matchups as Bay Springs heads up to Forest to face the Rebels in the first round of the Class 2A playoffs. Scott Central, ranked No. 8 in the Little 10 and No. 3 in 2A, is led by a rushing attack that’s averaging 197 yards per game. Quarterback Treyon Wash and running backs Elijah Robinson, Jackie Donald and Jabrelynn Vivians make the offense go. Bay Springs is led by an always fierce rushing attack that’s averaging 238.2 yards per game. It is led by quarterback Adrian Cole along with running backs Tyrick Jones and Chase Wilson. The Rebel defense only allows 12.8 points per game and gets job done at home in a close call.

Pick: Scott Central 13-12

Hartfield Academy (8-3) at Pillow Academy (8-2)

Hartfield will make the drive up I-55 to Greenwood to face the Mustangs in the second round of the MAIS Class 5A playoffs. Hartfield is very balanced on offense averaging 204.9 yards rushing and 120.4 yards passing per game led by quarterback Cruz Garner, running back Austin Willis and Myles Mathieu, along with receivers Brandon Buckhaulter and Erick Short. Pillow is also very balanced on offense averaging 246.1 yards per game passing led by quarterback Shane Houston Stephens (2,449 yards passing, 26 touchdowns) along with receivers Jack Reichle, Jaden Simcox and Hagan Wilson. Running back Christian Belk anchors the ground game that averages 179.4 yards per game. Expect the Hawks to survive and advance on the road.

Pick: Hartfield Academy 27-24