Long time sportswriter and high school football expert Robert Wilson is doing a predictions column each week during the high school football season on teams from Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties. Robert picked 18 of 30 games (60 percent) correctly last week, but according to numerous high school football followers he was the only one to predict the Jackson Prep win over Taylorsville. Robert is 119-48 overall for the season, a 71.2 winning percentage.
Jackson Prep (5-1) at Jackson Academy (3-3)
This is one of the most interesting rivalries in Mississippi. The two schools not only have students from the same towns, but the same neighborhoods, same churches and a few, the same families. The teams have met 52 times with Prep holding a 38-14 series lead, including the last nine meetings. Prep, which has won a Mississippi record seven straight state championships, has dominated JA over the last seven games, winning by an average of 28.7 points. JA coach Larry Weems, who is 0-6 vs. Prep in his fourth season, hasn’t had any breaks this year. Expected to have a team that might make a run at Prep’s dominance, Weems has had several injuries and transfers prior to the season that hurt his squad, including the loss of starting quarterback Jackson Conn to a season-ending leg injury. JA has had its share of success in this rivalry. The first win over Prep was an emotional one that many JA fans still remember. In 1995, after coach Sherard Shaw lost his battle with cancer, the Raiders upset the Patriots 21-7 on their way to their first state title. JA has won eight more state titles since then, including three straight from 2009-2011 before Prep began its current streak. Prep coach Ricky Black, after losing to Heritage in the season opener, has his Patriots rolling and are coming off a convincing 28-0 win over public school Class 2A power Taylorsville. JA will come into this game fired up as always, but Prep running back Matt Jones and the Patriot defense are took much for the Raiders.
Lake (5-0) at Pisgah (6-0)
After a close 22-20 victory over Rankin County rival Puckett in the season opener, Pisgah has won the next five games by an average of 29.4 points per game. In other words, the Dragons’ train is rolling downhill and gaining momentum. But Lake derailed the Pisgah train last year, winning 21-17 and giving Pisgah its first loss of the season. The Dragons remember that night vividly and have the emotional edge in this one. Look for Pisgah to give their coach Michael Granberry a Gatorade bath after a last-minute victory.
Provine (6-0) at Callaway (4-1) (Thursday) (South Jackson)
This year reminds Jackson Public School football fans of the years when Provine dominated. The Rams are 4-0 this year over JPS teams, winning over Lanier 21-0, Murrah 26-6, Jim Hill 32-8 and Forest Hill 55-47 in double overtime. Provine, under second-year coach Tim Wilson, has the looks of a team that could make a run deep into the Class 5A playoffs. But its still early and the Rams have a ways to go before they look down that road. Next up is Callaway, another JPS team with a tradition of winning big games. The Chargers want to build off last week’s Region 2 opening win over Cleveland Central. Callaway, which has matched its win total of four last year, also wants to build on last year’s 33-13 win over Provine. Provine will take this one this year.
George County (4-1) at Brandon (4-2)
This is Brandon’s homecoming game and the normal tendency is to have a fairly easy opponent because of all the homecoming distractions can cause the home team to not play their best. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, George County comes in on a roll, winning four of its five games, including last week’s surprising 24-20 win over 6A contender Oak Grove. Brandon might have overlooked George County and looked toward next week’s battle at Petal, which knocked off Pearl in overtime last week. But not any more.Even though Brandon has won big over George County for the past two seasons (49-7 in 2017 and 43-0 in 2018), Bulldog coach Tyler Peterson should be able to get his team’s attention.
Germantown (3-2) at Starkville (4-2)
Starkville came into the season as the favorite to win the Class 6A state championship before Brandon knocked off the Yellowjackets in the season opener. Starkivlle also lost to defending 5A state champion West Point. But Starkville has rebounded with wins over Meridian and South Panola and appears to be getting its championship game face back on for region play. That’s bad news for Germantown, which is getting its first taste of Class 6A football. The Mavericks took it on the chin last week in its first regional action, losing 35-14 to Warren Central. Thisweek will be just as tough and Germantown will be on the road.
Parklane (5-1) at MRA (5-2)
One of MRA coach Herbert Davis’ goals this season was to play good competition in order to get ready for the MSAIS stretch run and win the state championship and do their best to end Jackson Prep’s amazing seven year run. The Patriots almost did it last year, beating Prep 42-21 in the regular season, but lost 33-27 in the state title game. MRA easily won its first five games this season before losing to public school Philadelphia 21-14 and Briarcrest, Tenn., 42-20. Loss of momentum and key injuries can happen and did happen to MRA. It’s homecoming as well so this one isn’t going to be easy. Parklane, led by Division I recruit Gabriel Estay, a 6-foot-7, 335-pound senior tackle, isn’t a pushover. The Pioneers’ only loss was a heartbreaking, 41-40 decision to Presbyterian Christian. Despite all the distractions, MRA will survive.
Mize (6-0) at Puckett (4-2)
After losing to Rankin County rivals Pisgah and Pelahatchie to open the season, Puckett has turned it around and won four straight games. The Wolves’ offense has really gone into high gear, scoring 47, 60, 47 and 33 points against some schools in higher classes. Class 2A Puckett surprised Class 4A McLaurin 33-27 in overtime last week. Now comes the real test, undefeated Mize, a team it hasn’t beaten since Puckett moved up to 2A 10 years ago. Mize won 40-8 in 2017 and 36-28 last year. Mize is one of the most improved teams in the state, having already surpassed its win total of four from last year. Mize will get one more Friday night.
Winner is Underlined
Canton (4-1) at Holmes County Central (3-3)
Central Hinds (0-6) at Tri-County (5-1)
Clinton (2-3) at South Panola (5-1)
Clinton Christian (4-2) at Cathedral (3-3)
Copiah (2-4) at Park Place (2-4)
Florence (2-4) at Quitman (3-3)
Forest Hill (2-4) at Jim Hill (2-4) (Thursday) (Hughes)
Greenville Christian (2-4) at Canton Academy (1-5)
Hartfield (5-1) at East Rankin (1-5)
Hillcrest (1-6) at Central Holmes (4-3)
Lawrence County (3-3) at Raymond (3-3)
Madison Central (5-0) at Murrah (1-4) (Hughes)
Madison St. Joseph (2-4) at South Delta (6-0)
McLaurin (2-4) at St. Andrew’s (1-5)
Meridian (1-5) at Pearl (5-2)
Natchez (3-2) at Wingfield (0-6) (South Jackson)
North Pike (3-3) at Lanier (3-2) (North Jackson)
Northeast Jones (2-4) at Richland (4-2)
Pelahatchie (4-2) at Riverside (2-4)
Ridgeland (4-1) at Cleveland Central (1-4)
Terry (2-4) at Northwest Rankin (1-4) (Thursday)
Union Christian, La. (1-5) at Rebul (0-6)
Velma Jackson (2-3) at Yazoo County (5-1)