TEN GAMES TO WATCH — WEEK 9
Starkville (6-1) at Madison Central (6-1)
The Yellowjackets head to The Jungle to face the Jaguars in a huge Region 2-6A matchup and also a battle of Top 10 teams. Starkville bounced back from its loss to Northwest Rankin by whipping Greenville 79-0 last week, while Madison Central defeated Warren Central 24-17 in an instant classic. The Yellowjackets are a balanced team offensively averaging 216 yards per game passing and 206 yards per game rushing. They are led by quarterback Luke Altmyer and running back Rodrigues Clark, along with receivers Rufus Harvey and Jatavious Lucious. Madison Central is led by a rushing attack that averages 224 yards led by quarterback Jimmy Holiday and running back Duke Arnold. The Yellowjacket defense is the difference in this one on the road.
Pick: Starkville 24-21
Northwest Rankin (6-1) at Clinton (6-1)
Northwest Rankin travels to Clinton to face the Arrows in a matchup of Top 10 teams that is a huge regional contest. Northwest Rankin is averaging 184 yards per game passing and 180 yards rushing led by quarterback Jamari Jones, running backs Dee Baker and P.J. Lindsey, and receiver Jarrian Jones. Clinton is led by a two-quarterback system in Caleb Miller and Hunter Hulsey along with receivers Desmyn Baker and E. Jai Mason. Expect the Northwest Rankin defense, led by Hayden Hill, to come up big in this one.
Pick: Northwest Rankin 28-21
Horn Lake (7-0) at Oxford (6-1)
No. 1 Horn Lake travels to Bobby Holcomb Field to face Oxford for a huge Region 1-6A battle. Horn Lake is anchored by a ground game that is averaging 253 yards per game and is led by quarterback Raydarius Jones. Running backs Patrick Gilliam and Jamario Harris have had big seasons also. Oxford is a balanced team offensively that is averaging 148 yards per game passing and 122 yards per game rushing led by quarterback John Meagher, running back Jeremiah Pegues, and receivers De Pegues and Dede Pegues. The Eagle defense, led by Omar Pew and Nakobe Dean, probe to be the difference in this one.
Pick: Horn Lake 24-17
Harrison Central (6-1) at Gulfport (6-1)
The Red Rebels make the short trip to Milner Stadium to face the Admirals in a battle of 3-0 teams in Region 4-6A. Harrison Central is led by an offense that is averaging 158 yards passing and 160 yards per game rushing. They are led by quarterback Dayln Anderson, running backs Jaidon McClain and Gino Johnson, and receiver Brandon Smith. Gulfport is a balanced offense but is anchored by a ground game that averages 187 yards per game led by quarterback T.Q. Newsome and running back Tionne Frost. Receivers Tommie Johnson and DeSean Shields are ones to watch for Gulfport. The Admiral defense will come up big at home.
Pick: Gulfport 20-17
West Point (6-1) at Olive Branch (7-0)
West Point heads travels to Pool Field to face Olive Branch in one of the biggest games of the regular season and a matchup of Top 10 teams. West Point blew out Olive Branch twice last year, so the Quistadors are aiming for revenge. West Point is led by an always potent ground game that is averaging 212 yards per game led by running backs Kameron Martin, Brandon Harris and Jimothy Mays. Quarterback Jake Chambless runs the offense. Olive Branch is led by a rushing attack that averages 242 yards per game led by running backs Gary Banks, Dakota Braswell and Cameron Mosley. The West Point defense only gives up 9.3 points per game and is the difference in this one.
Pick: West Point 21-17
West Lauderdale (7-1) at Mendenhall (7-0)
The Knights head to Simpson County to face the Tigers in a huge matchup of 2-0 teams in Region 5-4A. Mendenhall is coming off a thrilling win over NE Lauderdale last week and is led by a rushing attack that is averaging 285 yards per game led by quarterback Christian Allen. Running backs Michael Simmons, Junkevious Mack and Zadarious Duckworth have been huge as well. West Lauderdale is a more balanced team on offensive averaging 212 yards per game rushing and 143 yards per game passing. They are led by quarterback Austin Davidson, running back Taylor Turnage and receiver Jason McKinney. The Tiger ground game is just too much in a close one.
Pick: Mendenhall 21-20
North Pontotoc (8-0) at Booneville (7-0)
The Vikings travel to Booneville to face the Blue Devils in a battle of unbeaten teams in Region 1-3A. North Pontotoc is a led by a balanced offense that is averaging 181 yards rushing and 143 yards passing led by quarterback Corley Hooper, receiver Ethan Dyer and running back Hunter West. Booneville is averaging 208 yards rushing per game led by do-it-all athlete Dallas Gamble. Quarterback John Daniel Deaton has thrown for 1,118 yards with 15 touchdowns this season. The Viking defense only allows 10.8 points per game and comes up big in what should be a great game.
Pick: North Pontotoc 21-14
Jefferson Davis County (6-2) at Columbia (6-1)
Jefferson Davis County makes the short trip down Highway 13 to Walter Peyton Field to face the Wildcats in a battle of 2-0 teams in Region 8-3A. JDC is the dominant force in 3A but Columbia hopes to challenge. Columbia is averaging 402 yards per game rushing led by the duo of Omar Johnson and Kentrel Bullock. Jefferson Davis County’s dynamic ground game is averaging 247 yards per game led by Kyser Booth, Justin Berry and Ricky Griffith. The defending 3A state champs get it done on the road.
Pick: Jefferson Davis County 20-19
Pelahatchie (7-1) at Pisgah (7-1)
Pelahatchie and Pisgah square off in the Battle of Highway 43 in what amounts to a huge Region 6-2A matchup of ranked teams in 2A. This is basically a region title game. This one could be a shootout as Pelahatchie is averaging 47 points per game on offense, and Pisgah is averaging 36.4 points per game. The Chiefs are averaging 273 yards per game rushing and 147 yards per game passing led by quarterback Javeious Purvis, running backs Jamal Johnson and Ahmad Johnson, and receiver Cedrick Wilder. Pisgah is led by a potent rushing attack that is averaging 327 yards per game led by Dillon Usry and Noah Thweatt. Purvis and the Chief offense will be too much to handle.
Pick: Pelahatchie 45-35
Jackson Prep (8-0) at MRA (8-0)
Jackson Prep heads to Madison to face MRA in the most anticipated MAIS regular season game of the season. Both teams are unbeaten. Ole Miss commit Jerrion Ealy leads the Jackson Prep running game that is averaging 230 yards per game. Ealy has 13 rushing touchdowns so far this year. MRA is led by a potent passing game led by quarterback Philip Short along with receivers Joe Perkins and cody Swanson. Linebackers Sam Shufelt and Stone Blanton lead the MRA defense, while Adam Norsworthy and Peyton Greenwood lead the Prep defense. MRA has proven to be legit but Ealy comes up big for Prep in a close one.
Pick: Jackson Prep 17-14