Ten Games to Watch — Week 4

Pearl sophomore running back Jamari Thompson (6'2, 225). Photo by Chris Brooks

Pearl (3-0) at Madison Central (3-0)

For the second time in three week it’s a matchup of No. 1 vs. No. 2 as the second-ranked Pirates head up to “The Jungle” to face the top-ranked Jaguars. This will be a battle of two heavy run games as Madison Central leans on quarterback and TCU commit Jimmy Holiday along with running back Duke Arnold. Pearl leans on running back Kenyatte Harrell, who has 12 rushing touchdowns through the first three games. This game will also feature to very good defense with Pearl anchored by linebacker Sam Brumfield, while Madison Central is led by safety Creek Robertson along with linebackers Nick Carter and Hayes Bufkin. This game could go either way, but the Jags come up big at home.

Pick: Madison Central 28-24

Oxford (2-1) at Lafayette (3-0)

It’s the 48th annual Crosstown Classic and 49th meeting overall as the Chargers make the real short trip down to William L. Buford Stadium to face the seventh-ranked Commodores. This will be a battle of dual threat quarterbacks in Oxford’s John Meagher and Lafayette’s Randy Anderson. Oxford’s J.J. Pegues could be the difference and a definite mismatch on the outside and Kelvin Wadley also helps lead the ground game for the Chargers. Tyrus Williams and Xzavious Stokes are ones watch at running back for the Commodores. The Lafayette defense comes up big late.

Pick: Lafayette 21-17 

Warren Central (2-1) at Brandon (2-1)

Vikings make the trip on I-20 over Brandon to face the third-ranked Bulldogs. This is the first time since 2012 that these two have faced each other in the regular season and 16th meeting overall. Brandon will be led by the passing game of quarterback Will Rogers along with receivers Ashton Nickleberry and Caleb Anderson. Warren Central will lean on the ground game anchored by Jerrious Stovall and Malik Sims. The Bulldog defense just too much.

Pick: Brandon 31-17

Tupelo (2-1) at West Point (2-1)

Golden Wave head Highway 45 to Hamblin McAlister to face the three-defending 5A champion and ninth-ranked Green Wave. West Point will lean on the heavy ground game led by Brandon Harris, Tae Gibbs and Dantariyus Cannon along with quarterback Gray Berry. A big key will be can Tupelo establish a running game after West Point held Starkville to just 3 yards rushing last week. The Golden Wave will look to go to Ole Miss commit and wide receiver Jaycob Horn against an inexperience West Point secondary. It’ll be close, but the Green Wave ground game too much.

Pick: West Point 28-24

Wayne County (2-1) at West Jones (3-0)

It’s one of the state’s biggest rivalries as the War Eagles make the trip on Highway 84 to face the Mustangs. This will be a battle of two heavy run games. West Jones is a more balanced offense averaging 174 yards per game rushing and 148 yards per game passing led by quarterback Alan Follis along with running backs Jasper Jones, Kentrel Pruitt and Joshua McDonald. Wayne County is averaging 231 yards per game rushing led by quarterback Zhakerrean Wesley along with running backs Shadamien Williamson and Kelnevious Walley. The Mustang defense is the difference.

Pick: West Jones 28-20

Louisville (2-1) at Starkville (1-2)

It’s an old rivalry renewed as the Wildcats head up Highway 25 to face the tenth-ranked Yellowjackets. This is the first since 2010 that these two teams have met in the regular season and 60th meeting overall. Louisville has rebounded since that opening week 2-0 loss to Noxubee County on offense led by quarterback Bryandrea Shumaker, running back Michael Foster along with receivers David Haynes and Kaleb Mosley. The key to this game will be the Louisville defense led by linebacker Kristian Hopkins and defensive tackle Laquerrious Taylor against the potent Starkville passing attack. The Yellowjacket offense will be led by quarterback Luke Altmyer, after being benched last week in third quarter, along with receivers Rufus Harvey, Joshua Aka, Orien Thompson along with running back Amariyon Howard. Starkville is 1-2 for the first time since 2013 and bounce back at home.

Pick: Starkville 24-20

Philadelphia (2-1) at Noxubee County (3-0)

Tornadoes head up to Macon to face the Tigers in critical early test between teams ranked in the Little 10 and contenders in 2A and 3A. The switch to quarterback has worked well so far for Marlon Windham to help lead the offense along with running back Bobby Shanklin along with receivers Jaylon Barnett and Coby Luckett. Linebackers Trillo Brown and Eldrick Hopkins will anchor a fast and youthful defense for Noxubee County, ranked No. 3 in the Little 10 and No. 2 in 3A. Philadelphia, ranked No. 5 in the Little 10 and No. 2 in 2A, is led by the duo of quarterback and Samford commit Asher Morgan along with MSU commit and wide receiver Lideatrick Griffin. Wide receiver Kadarius Calloway along with linebacker Deiondre Fox and defensive back Tanner Boler are ones to watch for the Tornadoes. The Tiger defense just too much.

 Pick: Noxubee County 23-16

Seminary (3-0) at Taylorsville (3-0)

Bulldogs head up to Taylorsville to face the Tartars in an early showdown of title contenders in 2A and 3A. This will be a battle of two different offenses. Taylorsville, ranked No. 2 in the Little 10 and No. 1 in 2A, is led by the potent passing attack led by quarterback Ty Keyes along with receivers Jabez Griffith, Tyrese Keys and Cedrick Beavers. Seminary, ranked No. 6 in the Little 10 and No. 3 in 3A, is led by the always potent running game that’s averaging 273.7 yards per game led by quarterback Jabori Potts along with running backs Jordan Barrett and Joseph Owens. Ole Miss commit and linebacker Austin Keys could be the difference in the game. The Tartar passing game just too much in this one.

Pick: Taylorsville 29-19

Charleston (2-1) at Senatobia (3-0)

Tigers make the short trip up to Senatobia to face the Warriors. Charleston is coming their first loss of the season last week to North Panola, while Senatobia was able get past Lake Cormorant in double overtime. The Warriors are very balanced on offense averaging 146.7 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. Charleston, ranked No. 3 in 2A, is averaging 131.3 yards per game rushing led by quarterback Chris Bradford, along with running backs Quinterrius Suggs and Keyshun Cashaw. Warriors in a close one at home.

Pick: Senatobia 17-13

Calhoun City (2-1) at North Panola (3-0)

Wildcats head up to Sardis to face the Cougars in a key early matchup of contenders in 2A and 3A. This will be a battle of two heavy run games. Calhoun City is averaging 136.7 yards per game rushing led by Kody Townsend, Chardarius Hill and Jayden Griffin. Hill also already has three interceptions on defense. North Panola, ranked No. 10 in the Little 10, is averaging 264.7 yards per game on the ground led by quarterback Cadarrius Pride, along with running backs Davonte Pratcher and Lemekin Walls. Defensive lineman Xavier Glover and Eric Williams come up big.

Pick: North Panola 21-13