Ten Games to Watch — Week 4

Oak Grove senior running back Eugene Newell Jr. (Photo by Chris Brooks)

Lafayette (1-0) at Oxford (1-0)
Lafayette is at Bobby Holcomb Field to face Oxford in the 48th annual Crosstown Classic and 49th all-time meeting between the two schools. Both schools are off to a good start as Oxford defeated Grenada last week, while Lafayette used a strong defensive performance against Horn Lake. The Chargers are more balanced on offense led by quarterback Michael Harvey along with running back LaNorris Howell and receivers J’kyvious Wortham. Lafayette likes to run the ball with Tyrus Carmichael-Williams and Trikyus Woodall. This game is a toss up, but the Commodore defense with D.J. Burgess, Brendan Toles and Jamari Logan is the difference.
Pick: Lafayette 24-20

Corinth (1-0) at Olive Branch (1-0)
Corinth is at Olive Branch as the two teams face off at Pool Field in a early battle of 1-0 clubs. Olive Branch running backs Khamron Ford, Tre Phillips and Tralyn Oliver are tough.  Watch for quarterback Ty Walton. Corinth is anchored by quarterback Brawner Cregeen along with running backs Cayden Betts and Nazarius Jones. The Quistor defense with linebackers Amarion Gray and Khamron Ford come up big at home.
Pick: Olive Branch 24-21

Starkville (1-0) at Louisville (1-0)
No. 1 Starkville is at Hinze Stadium to face Louisville in an early battle of 1-0 teams. This is the 76th all-time meeting between the two schools. Starkville is coming a big win as they knocked off previously top-ranked West Point at home behind quarterback Luke Altmyer and running back Amariyon Howard.  Louisville beat Columbus behind a strong defense led by defensive end Ty Cooper and defensive back Kylan Tippett. The Wildcat offense features quarterback Jace Hudspeth and running back Emory James. The Jacket offense is too much.
Pick: Starkville 35-22 

Hattiesburg (1-0) at Oak Grove (1-0)
Hattiesburg and Oak Grove is always a big game as the two square off in the 21st all-time meeting between the two schools. Hattiesburg is coming a big game on defense as the Tigers forced seven turnovers, including five interceptions, last week to beat previously ranked Laurel. Defensive back Walton Thompson had three interceptions and is one to watch, while quarterback Jermaine Powell anchors the offense. Oak Grove is led by quarterback Kade Barnett along with running back Eugene Nowell and receiver Jordan Coleman. The No. 2 ranked Warriors get the edge.
Pick: Oak Grove 31-21 

West Jones (1-0) at Wayne County (0-1)
It’s one of the state’s biggest rivalry games as the fifth-ranked Mustangs make the short trip on Highway 84 to face the War Eagles in a rematch of last year’s epic Class 5A second round playoff game that saw West Jones winning in overtime. This will be the 27th all-time meeting between the two schools. West Jones quarterback Alan Follis is a big-time talent and has plenty of help with receivers Tajrick Randolph and Matthew Nixon along with running back Kentrel Pruitt. The War Eagles will lean on a ground game led by quarterback Sebastian Chafin and running backs Shadamien Williamson and Kelnevious Walley. The Mustang defense is the difference.
Pick: West Jones 31-17 

West Lauderdale (1-0) at Neshoba Central (1-0)
West Lauderdale is at No. 7 Neshoba Central in a battle of two heavy run teams. West Lauderdale, ranked No. 5 in Class 4A, is led by running back JaKarius Grant, who had 167 yards rushing with two touchdowns against South Jones last week. Sophomore quarterback Jackson Parker is one to watch for the Knights. Neshoba Central will be anchored by running back Jarquez Hunter, who had 170 yards on 33 carries last week to help lead the Rockets over Tupelo. This matchup is always close but Hunter and the ground game proves too much at home.
Pick: Neshoba Central 21-17

Gulfport (0-1) at Picayune (1-0)
The Admirals head back on the road for a second straight week to face yet another ranked opponent. No. 8 Picayune is the opposition this time as the play at Lee Triplett Stadium. Picayune is anchored by quarterback Isaac Hickmon along with running backs Austin Samples, Dante Dowdell and I’Dorian Robinson. Picayune will look to limit turnovers as the Maroon Tide had three last week against Meridian. The Admirals will look to get the passing attack going this week led by quarterback Breck Leflore. Last year’s game was a shootout between these two teams, but like last time the Maroon Tide come out on top.
Pick: Picayune 30-20

East Webster (1-0) at Choctaw County (1-0)
East Webster travels to Choctaw County Friday in a big early test between two ranked teams. East Webster, ranked No. 4 in 2A, is led by a rushing attack that had 240 yards last week led by quarterback Chandler Hodges and running back Zy Ford. Choctaw County, ranked No. 10 in the Little 10, is anchored by running back Antonio Kennedy and quarterback Tylan Carter. This will be a defensive battle and the edge goes to the home team.
Pick: Choctaw County 16-14

Nanih Waiya (1-0) at Tupelo Christian (0-1)
Nanih Waiya travels to Tupelo Christian in a matchup of ranked teams in Class 1A and also a Region 2-1A opener. Nanih Waiya, the two-time defending Class 1A state champions and ranked No. 2 on 1A, ran for 284 yards rushing last week led by quarterback Tanner Courtney and running backs Austin Sanders and Tyquan McCully. The Warrior defense had 10 sacks against Choctaw Central. TCPS, ranked No. 5 in 1A, features quarterback Khi Holiday and receiver John Avery Herrod. The Eagles must take care of the football this week after turning the ball over five times last week in their loss to Biggersville. The Warrior ground game is too much in this one.
Pick: Nanih Waiya 27-21

Hartfield Academy (1-2) at Leake Academy (3-0)
Hartfield travels to Madden to face Leake Academy in a huge MAIS District 2-5A matchup. Hartfield, ranked No. 7 in the MAIS Top 10 and No. 3 in MAIS Class 5A, is averaging 225.5 yards per game anchored by running back Xavier Davis. Hartfield quarterback Will Elliott and Leake defensive end Jarrett Watkins are both players to watch. The Rebels have become more balanced on offense led by quarterback Rhett Atkinson and running back Whitt Welch. Receivers Riley Myers and Thomas Cheatham are solid. Like last season, Hawk wide receiver/safety and MSU commit Brandon Buckhaulter is the difference-maker.
Pick: Hartfield Academy 28-21