Photo by Riley Carter

By Robert Wilson

       Pearl’s defense – led by senior linebacker Kayvion Freeman – slowed down one of the best athletes in the country Friday night for a 21-0 victory over Meridian.

       The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Freeman had a team-high 13 tackles, 5 for loss, 1 sack and 1 forced fumble and held Meridian’s talented running back-quarterback Daniel Hill to only 10 rushing yards and out of the end zone.

       For his outstanding performance, Freeman has been named the Junction Deli/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Football Player of the Week.

       Freeman and his Pirates defense were dominating Friday night, not only limiting Hill – rated the No. 7 athlete in the country in the Class of 2023 by 247 sports and has offers from nine SEC schools and several Top 10 programs like Oregon, Michigan, Florida State and Texas – but also held Meridian to 106 total yards, 76 passing yards and 32 carries for 30 rushing yards.

       “Keyvion was phenomenal against Meridian,” Pearl coach Justin Hunter said. “He had a nose for the football all night. Keyvion is a great kid and football player who has a passion for the game.”

       “It seems Keyvion was everywhere when we needed a play to be made,” Pearl defensive coordinator Austin Wilbanks said. “He does great against the run and pass. Because of his length, he is a great tackler. When Keyvion is coming to get you, he is coming with violence. His desire to tackle violently is one of those football characteristics that you can’t coach. And because of his height and length, Keyvion gives quarterbacks fits because it’s hard to throw the ball in the windows around him. “

       Despite missing the first several weeks of the season due to an injury, Freeman has 46 tackles, 16 for loss, and 2 sacks.

       Said Wilbanks: “He has finally got back into playing shape the last few weeks.”

       Freeman has offers from Army and Navy and many of Mississippi community colleges.

       Freeman is the son of Lorraine and Kentrell Freeman. Lorraine is a graduate of Forest Hill High. Kentrell is a graduate of Callaway High and played baseball there.

       Freeman is a big reason why Pearl has one of the biggest turnarounds in Mississippi this season, going from winning two games last year to winning seven games so far season. Pearl, 7-3 and the No. 4 seed from MHSAA Class 7A, Region 3, visits Ocean Springs, 9-1 and the No. 1 seed from Region 4, Friday in the first round of the 7A state playoffs.

Mississippi Scoreboard selects a football player from Hinds, Madison, or Rankin counties each week. Coaches can nominate a player by text or call to Robert Wilson at 601.506.2276.

       2023 POW winners:

       Week One: John White, MRA

       Week Two: Jacob Clearman, Tri-County Academy

       Week Three: Ryan McCall, Madison Central

       Week Four: Brayden Bullock, Central Hinds Academy

       Week Five: Nate Blount, Brandon

       Week Six: John White, MRA

       Week Seven: Tyler Arrington, Wingfield

       Week Eight: Damarion Snow, Pelahatchie

       Week Nine: Ny Johnson, Germantown

       Week 10: Baker Craig, Park Place Christian Academy

       Week 11: Jay McQueen, Brandon

       Week 12: Jaeden Calender, Brandon