Clinton (4-0) at Madison Central (3-1)
The Arrows head up the Natchez Trace to The Jungle to face the Jaguars in a Region 2-6A opening showdown of Top 10 rivals. This game will be a battle of Madison Central’s rushing attack against Clinton’s passing attack. The No. 7 Jaguar ground game is averaging 223.5 yards per game led by Jimmy Holiday and Duke Arnold. Fifth-ranked Clinton is averaging 163 yards passing led by Hunter Hulsey, Desmyn Baker and E.Jai Mason. The Arrow ground game isn’t something to sleep on either averaging 106 yards a game led by Greg Evans and Montavious Warren. Jags in a close one at home.
Pick: Madison Central 21-20
Northwest Rankin (3-1) at Warren Central (1-2)
Northwest Rankin heads to Vicksburg to face the Vikings in a critical Region 2-6A opener. This will be a battle of ground attacks. Northwest Rankin is coming off a loss to rival Brandon last week while Warren Central was off last week. The Cougar ground game is averaging 211 yards per game led by Jamari Jones, P.J. Lindsey and Dee Baker. The Vikings are on a two-game skid and are averaging 233 yards rushing led by Jerrious Stovall and Corey Wilson, Jr. The Cougars bounce back on the road.
Pick: Northwest Rankin 27-20
Gulfport (3-1) at St. Martin (3-1)
Gulfport faces St. Martin in a crucial Region 4-6A opener. Gulfport comes in with a very balanced offense averaging 175 yards rushing and 170 yards passing led by quarterback T.Q. Newsome along with running backs Tionne Frost, Tyran Gable. Wide receiver Tommie Johnson also is a threat. Promising linebacker Derick Hall anchors the defense. St. Martin is led by a rushing attack that is averaging 238 yards led by Hamm McGee, Jay McGee, Mileon Graham and Elijah Washington. The Admiral offense is too much in this one.
Pick: Gulfport 28-21
Lafayette (3-1) at West Point (3-1)
It’ll be a battle of running games as the Commodores head over to West Point to face the No. 4 Green Wave in a huge Region 1-5A opener. West Point is coming off a big shutout win over Noxubee County and is led by an always fierce rushing attack that is averaging 213 yards led by Kameron Martin and Brandon Harris. The Green Wave defense is only giving up 9.7 points per game led by Brandon Lairy and Brentt Cunningham. Lafayette is averaging 393 yards per game rushing led by Lance Stewart, Jamie Shaw, Jr. and Randy Anderson. Alabama commit Brandon Turnage and Ole Miss commit Eric Jefferies anchor the Commodore defense. The Green Wave is always hard to beat at home.
Pick: West Point 27-19
Canton (4-1) at Ridgeland (3-1)
Canton makes the short trip down I-55 to Ridgeland to face the Titans in a Region 2-5A opening battle of Madison County rivals. Ridgeland is led by a balanced offense that is averaging 172 yards passing and 123 yards rushing led by Zy McDonald, Markell Young, Richard Mays and Yamarius Banks. Canton uses a two-quarterback system to lead its balanced offense that averages 194 yards rushing and 150 yards passing. Jontarius Brown and Jacobian Morgan are the two quarterbacks to lead the offense along with running back Camerone Harris and receivers Jaiden Burns and Tyquan Henderson. The Ridgeland defense is led by Michael Smith and that’s the difference.
Pick: Ridgeland 35-27
Holmes Central (3-1) at Neshoba Central (5-0)
Jaguars head over to Philadelphia to face the undefeated Rockets in a Region 2-5A opener. Neshoba Central is led by a fierce rushing attack that is averaging 351 yards anchored by Austin Day, Jarquez Hunter and Tyler Mathis. Holmes Central is a more balanced attack offensively but is a more run heavy team averaging 282 yards rushing led by Robert Jackson and Quo’Darious Crigler. Quarterback Justin Smit leads the passing attack that is averaging 113 yards per game. The Jaguar defense has recorded 18 sacks so far in 2018 and is the difference.
Pick: Holmes Central 26-20
Wayne County (3-1) at Picayune (2-2)
It’s the Little Iron Bowl has the War Eagles head down to Picayune to face the Maroon Tide in a crucial Region 4-5A opener. This will be a battle of two heavy run teams. Wayne County is averaging 283 yards per game on the ground anchored by quarterback Zhakerreun Wesley and running back Kelnevious Walley. Picayune’s heavy ground attack is averaging 346 yards per game led by Jortin Raine, Jakail Myers, Jairice Travis, Dylan Schabault and Cameron Thomas. This game is always close so expect nothing new and going with the home team.
Pick: Picayune 30-27
Greenwood (4-1) at Louisville (4-1)
The Bulldogs head down to Louisville to face the Wildcats in a final non-division game between 4A North contenders. Greenwood is led by a rushing attack anchored by Walter Ivory and Jamarion Addision. Defensively the Bulldogs are anchored by Davin Anderson and Carldaryl Johnson. Louisville is a more balanced offense with Dre Shumaker at quarterback averaging 108 yards per game passing with Niselbyion Kirk and Alvius Haynes as top receivers. The Wildcats are averaging 182 yards per game rushing led by Kevon Jackson. The stingy Louisville defense is anchored by Charles Moore and Ashanti Cistrunk. The Wildcats get job done at home.
Pick: Louisville 30-20
Lawrence County (4-1) at Collins (3-1)
The Cougars will head over on Highway 84 to Collins to face the Tigers in a final tune-up before division play starts for both teams next week. Lawrence County has been a surprise so far under first year coach Jesse Anderson and is led by a potent ground game that is averaging 313 yards per game anchored by Kylan Cooper, Perez Tyler, Quincy Lewis and Haden Mullins. Collins is led by a fierce passing attack that is averaging 219 yards per game led by quarterback Hershey McLaurin and receivers. Markel McLaurin, Zyrion Thompson and Christopher Keys. The Tiger passing attack is too much.
Pick: Collins 26-19
Winona (5-0) at Water Valley (5-0)
The Tigers head up to Water Valley to face the Blue Devils in a battle of unbeaten teams in Class 3A. Winona is averaging 193 yards per game rushing led by An’Darius Coffey, Blake Cooper, Jay Lofton and Jalen Campbell. Water Valley is also led by a rushing attack that is averaging 206 yards per game anchored by Kenterrious Rucker, Jacob Truss and Blayne Clark. The Tigers get the job done in a close one on the road.
Pick: Winona 20-19