Here are our ten games to watch around the state this week featuring a pair of games with Top 10 teams squaring off as No. 8 Pearl travels to No. 7 Northwest Rankin and No. 3 West Point heads to No. 1 Starkville.
TEN GAMES TO WATCH — WEEK 3
West Point (2-0) at Starkville (2-0)
West Point makes the short trip down to Starkville to face the Yellowjackets in an early showdown of top five teams. Both teams have great defenses and outstanding running games. No. 1 Starkville is led by Rodrigues Clark at running back but has more of a balanced attack with Luke Altmyer at quarterback and receivers Rufus Harvey, Malik Brown and Khiry Gee. Zach Edwards and Jalil Clemons lead a stout defense. No. 3 West Point has a three-headed monster at running back with Brandon Harris, Kam Martin and Dantariyus Cannon with Jake Chambless leading the offense. Linebackers Brentt Cunningham and Brandon Lairy lead the always tough Green Wave defense. The last team to beat West Point was Starkville in 2016 and the Jackets get the job done at home and snap the Wave’s 30-game winning streak in a classic.
Pick: Starkville 28-27
Pearl (2-0) at Northwest Rankin (2-0)
Pearl heads over to Flowood to face the Cougars in a metro area battle of top ten teams. This will be Northwest Rankin’s first test of the season. No. 8 Pearl is led by a running game that averages 291 yards per game led by Kenyatta Harrell, Carleontaye Spires, Shade Foster and Jerry Johnson. Jordan Bailey and Damien Lynch leads a fast defense for the defending Class 6A state champs. No. 7 Northwest Rankin also is led by a strong rushing attack with Dee Baker and P.J. Lindsey. The Cougars are more balanced on offense with quarterback Jamari Jones and Jarrian Jones at wide receiver. Jaeden Webb and Hayden Hill anchor the defense. Cougars in a close one at home.
Pick: Northwest Rankin 20-17
Clinton (2-0) at Brandon (2-0)
Clinton makes the short trip on I-20 over to Brandon to face the No. 5 Bulldogs in the metro area’s oldest rivalry. This will be a good battle of quarterback & wide receiver duos. Brandon is led by the tandem of Will Rogers at quarterback and Jonathan Mingo at wide receiver with Dallas Smith leading the running game. Jay Stanley, Dakara Shoto and Zihenryon Perry anchor a stiff defense for the Bulldogs. Clinton has Hunter Hulsey at quarterback to lead the offense and two big targets at wideout in Desmyn Baker and E. Jai Mason along with Ryan Davis at running back. DeLawrence Butler, Micah Gibbs, Chantz Taylor and Javian Paige lead the way for the Arrows on defense. Dogs too much at home.
Pick: Brandon 28-21
Madison Central (1-1) at D’Iberville (2-0)
Madison Central makes the three-hour trip down to the Gulf Coast to face the Warriors. Madison Central offensively will lean on the play of quarterback Jimmy Holiday, while defensively is where the Jaguars are always built led by Peyton Rea, Tyrese Swan and Nick Carter. D’Iberville will once again lean on a heavy rushing attack led by quarterback Jaden Walley and Marquis Whitley. The Warriors could have the advantage up front on the offensive line led by Louis Paul Smith. Jags defense comes up big in this one.
Pick: Madison Central 24-20
Oak Grove (2-0) at Laurel (1-1)
Oak Grove heads up I-59 to face the Tornadoes in an early test of 6A and 5A contenders. Oak Grove has been rolling early, while Laurel is coming off a tough loss to Hattiesburg on Saturday and will need to respond quickly. The Warriors are very balanced on offense led by quarterback and Georgia commit John Rhys Plumlee, along with running back Tyson Keys and receiver Brandon Hayes. Defensive end and Mississippi State commit Jack Harris, along with defensive back and Arkansas State commit Jarius Reimonenq, will lead the defense. Laurel will bring a potent rushing attack led by quarterback Sinclair Ulmer along with running backs Michael Terrell and Zias Perryman. The Warriors offense is too explosive in this one.
Pick: Oak Grove 35-27
Lafayette (2-0) at North Panola (2-0)
The Commodores head up to Sardis to face the Cougars in a matchup of two teams that are off to fast starts this season. Lafayette is leaning on a fierce rushing attack led by Lance Stewart, Jamie Shaw, Jr. and Randy Anderson. Ole Miss commit Eric Jeffries, along with safety and Alabama commit Brandon Turnage, anchor the Commodore defense. North Panola is led by Arkansas commit K.J. Jefferson at quarterback along with Tyler Shorter at receiver. Quardarius Jones along with Shorter lead the Cougar defense. The Dores’ rushing attack just too much.
Pick: Lafayette 31-20
Tupelo (2-0) at Clarksdale (1-0)
Tupelo makes the long trip over to the Delta to face the Wildcats. Tupelo has been leaning on big second half rallies to win their first two games, so will there be a third? Running back Jaquerrious Williams has been leading the offense with Stephon McGlaun out with an ankle injury. Clarksdale played their season opener last week due to their first game being cancelled by weather and took it to Greenville 47-14. The Wildcats are led by Cameron Matthews at quarterback along with Queston Skipper and Antwan Wheeler at running back. Linebackers Alshun Ross and Trejan Latham anchor a veteran defense for Clarksdale. The Wave rushing attack gets job done in a close one.
Pick: Tupelo 24-21
Mendenhall (2-0) at Magee (2-0), Thursday
It’s the 95th annual Simpson County Super Bowl as the Tigers make the short seven mile ride to Magee to face the Trojans. Both teams have won each of their first two games handily, so this will be a tough test for each team. Mendenhall has won two in a row in the series and is led by a rushing attack led by quarterback Christian Allen along with running backs Michael Simmons and Jarvis Walker. Tabuiz Camper and Jamal Johnson anchor the defense for the Tigers. Magee is using more of a passing game this year under first year coach Teddy Dyess led by quarterback Javo Thurman along with receivers Chandler Pittman and Josh Sanders. The Tigers make it three in a row.
Pick: Mendenhall 25-22
Nanih Waiya (2-0) at Winona (2-0)
The Warriors head up to Winona to face the Tigers in a battle of 3A and 1A contenders. This will be Nanih Waiya’s first test of the season. An’darius Coffey and Blake Cooper anchor the running game for the Tigers while Jay Lofton is the top receiver. Tay’shaun Pointer and Jalen Campbell lead the veteran Winona defense. Nanih Waiya leans on a heavy rushing attack with Shai Moore, Austin Sanders and Donovan Turner. Ole Miss commit Caleb Warren anchors a veteran offensive line and defensive line for the Warriors. Winona gets the job done at home.
Pick: Winona 30-19
Indianola Academy (2-0) at Starkville Academy (2-0)
Indianola makes the trip along Highway 82 over to Starkville to face the Volunteers in a rematch of last year’s MAIS Class AAA state championship that ended in a 21-14 overtime classic won by Starkville Academy. Both teams lean heavily on the running game. Indianola Academy always leans on a heavy run game and a stiff defense led by Will Davis, Dede Willis and Woods Toler. Starkville Academy will be led by Taylor Arnold and Howell Archer anchors a veteran front seven. Vols in a close one at home.
Pick: Starkville Academy 21-20