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 22 of 30 games (73.3 percent) correctly last week. Robert is 141-56 overall for the season, a 71.5 winning percentage.
Warren Central (4-2) at Madison Central (6-0)
Warren Central and Madison Central players, coaches and fans remember last year’s thrilling game in Vicksburg when Madison Central linebacker Haynes Bufkin returned a fumble for the winning touchdown in the closing minutes. Madison Central held on for a hard-earned, 24-17 victory. It was Madison Central’s sixth straight win last season on its way to a 10-4 record. The Jaguars are again on a winning streak this year and aren’t looking ahead to next week’s showdown with powerful Starkville. Warren Central is enough to be worried about. The Vikings have bounced back from their 42-0 loss to Pearl Aug. 30 and are two points away from a four-game winning streak, losing only to Brandon 10-9. Not many teams win in Madison Central’s Jungle. The combo of probable Mississippi Player of the Year, Madison Central’s speedy senior quarterback Jimmy “The Jet” Holiday, and the Jaguars solid defense makes this game extremely difficult for Warren Central.
Madison Central 21-10.
Brandon (5-2) at Petal (5-1)
Petal got Brandon’s attention two weeks ago when the Panthers stopped Pearl on a two-point conversion try late in the game for a surprising, 38-37 overtime win over the Pirates. Both Brandon and Petal are 2-0 in Class 6A, Region 3 play and the winner of this game will be in the driver’s seat to earn a possible district title. Brandon has had probably the toughest schedule in the state so far with games against 6A powers Starkville and Madison Central and two-time defending Louisiana 5A state champion Zachary. Petal’s Marcus Boyles – the third winningest active coach in Mississippi with 324 wins — will have a great plan drawn up to slow down Brandon and Dandy Dozen quarterback Will Rogers. Petal takes one more step to getting back to the 6A state championship game like it did in 2015.
MRA (6-2) at Hartfield (6-1)
MRA and Hartfield had two of the best first halves of the season of any teams in Mississippi. The Patriots won by an average of 42 points and the first team players hardly saw much action in the second half for the first six wins. The Hawks averaged 36.1 points per game and won by an average of 28.6 points. MRA had an incredible year last season, but fell one game short of its state championship goal. Playing tough opponents like Class 2A public school powerhouse Philadelphia and Tennessee private school state championship contender Briarcrest will prepare MRAfor the second half of the season and it hopes the result will be a state championship. Hartfield is probably the most improved team in Mississippi, bouncing back from a 3-9season a year ago. The Hawks suffered their first loss two weeks ago at Oak Forest, La., a place where many teams have come away on the losing end. Hartfield rebounded with a 49-0 victory over East Rankin last week. This is a huge test to see how far Hartfield has come.
Callaway (4-2) at Ridgeland (5-1)
Callaway has had only one winning season in the past four years – a 7-5 record in 2016 – but the Chargers have owned Ridgeland. Callaway won 6-0 in 2015, 27-20 in 2016, 35-14 in 2017 and 36-34 last season. Not since Ridgeland won 33-27 in overtime in 2014 have the Titans felt good after playing the Chargers. Callaway coach Chad Germany has his team playing well and has the makings of the Chargers best season since 2013 when they reached the Class 5A semifinals. Ridgeland, also, has had a big turnaround with first-year coach David White leading the charge. The Titans are already on the verge of having their first winning season since 2013 with their only loss to Class 6A state title contender Pearl. A win would keep Ridgeland undefeated in Class 5A, Region play.
South Delta (7-0) at Pelahatchie (5-2)
Coach Sam Williams has his Pelahatchie Chiefs rolling once again with two explosive offensive performances in wins over Jackson Academy 49-37 and Riverside 55-12. Ahmad Johnson ran for 424 yards and five touchdowns and Quay Ragsdale ran for 197 yards and one touchdown in the JA win. Johnson ran for 197 yards and three TDs and Ragsdale ran for 115 yards and one TD and passed for 100 more and one TD in the Riverside win. Those two are very hard to stop. South Delta, which has three shutouts and hasn’t allowed more than 24 points in a game this season, won’t stop the dynamic duo either. Pelahatchie will be the only undefeated team in Class 2A, Region 4 after Friday night.
Pelahatchie 28, South Delta 18.
Puckett (5-1) at Bay Springs (6-1)
Puckett showed it was for real last week when the Wolves knocked off previously undefeated Mize 21-14. Sam Aultman clinched the win when he recovered a Mize fumble on the Puckett 20 yards line in the fourth quarter. Junior Ty’vez Tate passed for one touchdown and ran for another for the Wolves. Mize had allowed only three touchdowns all season and had only one game closer than 27 points before last week. Bay Springs comes into Friday night’s region game trying to bounce back from a 42-6 loss at Taylorsville. Bay Springs went 11-4 last year with two of those losses to Taylorsville. This is new territory for Puckett to be in the same region with Bay Springs. Don’t look for another Puckett upset.
Bay Springs 35-14.
Tri-County (6-1) at Clinton Christian (4-3)
First-year Tri-County coach Philip Wasson has the Rebels gearing up with make another run in the MSAIS playoffs like they do almost every year. The Madison County group from Flora is two points away from an undefeated season, losing to Riverfield, La., 50-49 in the second game of the season in a thriller when Riverfield went for a two-point conversion for the win and made it. Clinton Christian allowed 57 points in a loss to Cathedral last week and is trying to figure out how to stop Tri-County this week. This will be for the Class 4A, District 2 championship. It will be a playoff atmosphere and Tri-County does lose many games like this.
Benton (2-6) at Hillcrest (1-7)
Canton Academy (1-6) at Winston (2-5)
Crystal Springs (5-1) at McLaurin (2-5)
East Rankin (1-6) at Jackson Academy (3-4)
Florence (2-5) at Northeast Jones (3-4)
Forest Hill (3-4) at West Jones (6-0)
Holmes County Central (4-3) at Provine (7-0) (Hughes)
Jackson Prep (6-1) at Washington (2-5)
Lanier (4-2) at Raymond (3-4)
Murrah (1-5) at Clinton (2-4)
Neshoba Central (3-3) at Canton (4-2)
Northwest Rankin (2-4) at George County (4-2)
Park Place (3-4) at Central Hinds (0-7)
Pearl (4-2) at Terry (2-5)
Pisgah (6-1) at Madison St. Joseph (2-5)
Prentiss Christian (2-4) at Rebul (0-7)
Richland (4-3) at Mendenhall (2-4)
St. Andrew’s (2-5) at Velma Jackson (3-3)
South Jones (1-6) at Jim Hill (1-5) (South Jackson)
South Panola (6-1) at Germantown (3-3)
Wingfield (1-6) at Brookhaven (1-5)