Ten Games to Watch — Week 9

Photo by Chris Brooks


Madison Central (7-0) at Starkville (6-2)

It’s the only Top 10 matchup this week as No. 1 Madison Central faces No. 4 Starkville in a showdown of unbeaten teams in Region 2-6A. Madison Central is averaging 233 yards per game on the ground. Much of that is due to TCU commit Jimmy Holiday (638 yards rushing, 12 touchdowns) but running backs Duke Arnold and Javarius Jordan have a big hand in it as well. The run game is as good as it gets. Starkville is led by a passing game that is averaging 261.1 yards per game with junior quarterback Luke Altmyer (1,450 yards passing, 14 touchdowns) driving the offense. Receivers Rufus Harvey, Jatavious Lucious, Joshua Aka and Orien Thompson form a great trio. Running back Amariyon Howard leads the rushing attack for the Jackets. Madison Central only allows 9.1 points per game and the top-ranked Jags get revenge on the road.

Pick: Madison Central 21-17

Laurel (6-1) at West Jones (7-0)

Laurel will make the short trip over to Soso to face No. 7 West Jones in a huge matchup of unbeaten teams in Region 3-5A. West Jones is very balanced offensively averaging 177.9 yards per game rushing and 155.6 yards per game passing. Quarterback Alan Follis (1,084 yards passing, 14 touchdowns) has been really good. Running backs Jasper Jones, Kentrel Pruitt and Joshua McDonald along with receivers Tajrick Randolph and Michael Neal provide a lot of depth at skill positions. Laurel is led by a rushing attack that averages 226.6 yards per game led by quarterback Xavier Evans and running backs Amir Smith and Kiron Benjamin. Kanarius Johnson is one to watch at receiver for Laurel. The Mustang defense allows 11 points per game and comes up big at home in a nail-biter. 

Pick: West Jones 21-20

Grenada (5-2) at West Point (7-1)

Grenada hooks up with West Point in a big Region 1-5A matchup. This will be a battle of two run heavy teams. West Point is ranked third in the state overall and features an offense that is averaging 259.3 yards per game on the ground led by Brandon Harris, Tae Gibbs and Dantariyus Cannon, as well as quarterback Gray Berry. The Chargers are averaging 28 yards per game led by running back Demarquese Gibson and quarterback Joshua Phillips. Grenada receivers Emmanuel Forbes and Christian Wortham are ones to keep an eye on. The Green Wave defense comes up big at home but Grenada has a solid team.

Pick: West Point 27-20

Corinth (6-1) at New Albany (5-2)

The Warriors head down to New Albany to face the Bulldogs in a huge matchup of 2-0 teams in Region 1-4A. Corinth is led by a ground game that’s averaging 274.8 yards per game led by quarterback D.T. Sheffield along with running backs Tameron Patterson (13 rushing touchdowns), Cayden Betts and Will Agnew. New Albany is very balanced on offense averaging 165.7 yards per game passing and 162.1 yards per game rushing led by quarterback Charlie Lott (1,156 yards passing, 15 touchdowns), running back C.J. Hill along with receivers Isaiah Cohran, Cameron Knox and Mason Simmons. Linebacker Carter Bonds and the Warrior defense comes up big on the road. 

Pick: Corinth 27-14

West Marion (8-0) at Columbia (7-0), Thursday

The Trojans make the real short trip on Highway 98 over to rival Columbia to face the Wildcats on Thursday in a Region 8-3A showdown of teams ranked in the Little 10. Columbia, the top-ranked team in the Little 10 and in 3A, is led by a rushing attack that averages 316.5 yards per game anchored by running backs in Ole Miss commit Kentrel Bullock along with Omar Johnson and quarterback Josh Brown. West Marion, ranked No. 7 in Little 10 and No. 2 in 3A, is averaging 143 yards passing per game and 194.6 yards rushing per game led by quarterback Jeremiah Holmes, running backs Octavious Harvey and Jartavious Martin. Receiver Omarion Husband can be a threat as well for the Trojans. The Wildcat defense anchored by Jordan Aaron and Jamison Kelly are the difference.

Pick: Columbia 34-24

Pelahatchie (6-2) at Pisgah (7-1)

It’s the battle of Highway 43 as Pelahatchie faces Pisgah in a huge Region 4-2A matchup. It will be a matchup of two heavy run teams. Pisgah is averaging 310.3 yards per game on the ground anchored by quarterback Dillon Usry (846 yards rushing, 10 touchdowns) and running back Kyshaun Gates (831 yards, 8 touchdowns). Receivers Ben Arnold and Logan Moore have been major threats for the Dragons but Arnold is a big loss with an injury. Pelahatchie’s ground game is averaging 370.6 yards per game led by quarterback Quay Ragsdale (1,034 yards, 8 touchdowns) along with running backs Ahmad Johnson (1,376 yards, 23 touchdowns) and Jamal Johnson. The Chiefs’ defense has been giving up points this year so this one could be a shootout. The Chief ground game comes through.

Pick: Pelahatchie 40-30

Enterprise-Clarke (7-0) at Taylorsville (7-1)

The Bulldogs will put its unbeaten record to the test as they head over to Taylorsville to face the Tartars in a matchup of 2-0 teams in Region 5-2A. Taylorsville is led by an dynamic offense that is averaging 34.9 points per game, 293.1 yards passing, and 172.8 yards rushing led by quarterback Ty Keyes, running backs Jeffrey Pittman and Travis Keyes along with receivers Jabez Griffith, Tyrese Keyes, Arterrious Miller and Cedrick Beavers. Enterprise-Clarke is led by a rushing attack that is averaging 307 yards per game anchored by quarterback Derryon Gray along with running backs Kristian Milsap, John Campbell and Ridge Kidd. The Tartar offense is too much in this one.

Pick: Taylorsville 35-20

Scott Central (6-2) at Union (6-1)

Scott Central makes the short trip over to Union to face the Yellow Jackets in a big Region 6-2A matchup. Scott Central, ranked No. 4 in 2A, is led by a rushing attack that’s averaging 182.5 yards per game. Quarterback Treyon Wash and running backs Elijah Robinson, Jackie Donald and Jabrelynn Vivians make the offense go. Union is a more balanced offense averaging 286 yards rushing and 151 yards passing led by quarterback Colby Ferguson, running back Jaylon Buckley along with receivers Mark Jones and Jamarion Harmon. The Rebel defense only allows 13.1 points per game and comes up big late in this one.

Pick: Scott Central 20-14

West Lowndes (7-1) at Noxapater (6-2)

The Panthers head down to face the Tigers in a Region 2-1A matchup that could more than likely determine who is the No. 2 seed. West Lowndes is a balanced offensively averaging 119.6 yards per game rushing and 100.9 yards passing per game led by quarterback Melvin Crawford, running back Marcquez Holiday along with do-it-all receiver Jherquaveus Sanders. Noxapater is averaging 250.4 yards per game on the ground led by quarterback K.D. Carter (1,085 yards rushing, 15 touchdowns) and backs Raheem Hathorn and Chase Ray. The Tigers are tough to beat at home but this one will be close.

Pick: Noxapater 18-17

MRA (7-2) at Jackson Prep (7-1)

MRA heads to Flowood to face Jackson Prep in the most anticipated MAIS game of the season. Jackson Prep is led by a rushing attack that averages 187.5 yards per game and is anchored by running backs Matt Jones and Seth Cook. Jones has been big-time all year rushing for 1,010 yards with 19 touchdowns. Riley Maddox has taken over as the quarterback since the Taylorsville game and his athleticism has added a dimension. MRA is also a very a balanced team offensively averaging 250.4 yards passing and 111.1 rushing. Quarterback Philip Short has put up big numbers passing for 1,855 yards with 15 touchdowns. Running back A.J. Hasley and receivers Russ Sceroler, Justin Williams and Tyler Starnes need big games. MRA strong safety Joe Perkins could be an x-factor. This game could go either way and this very well could be the first of two matchups. Prep at home.

Pick: Jackson Prep 24-21