Top 10 Countdown: No. 5 Madison Central

Madison Central senior running back Duke Arnold. (Photo by Chris Brooks)

Madison Central enters the season ranked as our No. 5 team in the preseason Top 10. With talented quarterback Jimmy Holiday now at Tennessee, this Jaguar team will feature a defense that was one of the state’s best last year and returns all but three starters. They allowed the second fewest points in 6A a season ago. The offense will reload in several spots but Duke Arnold at running back is something to build around.

No. 5: Madison Central Jaguars

Head Coach: Anthony Hart

2019 Record: 9-3 (Class 6A First Round)

Starters Returning: Offense: 4 Defense: 9

Players to Watch: RB/SS Duke Arnold; LB Josiah Perryman; LB Joseph Perryman; TE Blake Gunter; DL C.J. Barney; SS Creek Robertson; DB Greg Hollins.

Coach Speak: “We feel good about the offense even though it’ll be different but it looks like this will be a fun team to coach,” Hart said. “We have five quarterbacks fighting for the spot and all bring something different. Duke will bring a lot to the table because he will play both ways and he’s a character. We feel really good about our defense even though we will not have the size up front, but we’re strong. We have depth at linebacker and in the secondary with guys that saw a lot of snaps.”

Outlook: Madison Central had played in the 6A North State Championship Game for four straight seasons until last year when they fell in the first round to Olive Branch. The Jaguars will be breaking in a new quarterback but there will be weapons on offense to lead on that side of the ball. Running back Duke Arnold is back after rushing for 686 yards with six touchdowns. Junior tight end Blake Gunter (three touchdowns in 2019) already is drawing scholarship offers from the SEC and will be a key target in the passing game. Defense is where the Jaguars will lean heavily on early in the season with nine starters back. The front seven will be the strength led by the Perryman twins in Joseph and Josiah at linebacker along with defensive lineman C.J. Barney. Defensive back Greg Hollins is also back along with Arnold and Creek Robertson at safety to anchor the secondary.

Season Opener: Sept. 4 vs. Northwest Rankin.