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 29games (75.9 percent) correctly last week. Robert is 235-83 overall (73.9 percent) for the season.
Pearl (6-4) at Brandon (7-4)
The Rankin County Super Bowl aka “Eat Dirt” Game is one of the oldest high school rivalries in Mississippi. The first meeting was in 1949 and ended in a 0-0 tie. The two teams have played every year except for 1953 and 1954. Brandon leads the series 42-25-1 and has dominated lately, winning nine of the last 13 meetings and three of those losses were in overtime. Pearl has been able to breathe easy with a victory only once in the past 15 years, a 35-7 win in 2016. Pearl won 28-27 in overtime two years ago on its way to an undefeated season and the Class 6A state championship. Two Ole Miss Rebels, Pearl’s Tylan Knight and Brandon’s Jonathan Mingo, were stars in the last two meetings. Knight scored two touchdowns, including one in overtime, in 2017. A year ago, Mingo caught two TD passes, including the go-ahead score in the fourth quarter, in a 14-10 Brandon win. Unlike the past several years, the winner of this game doesn’t win the region. Petal has clinched that. But both these teams could still make the playoffs depending on how other games in the region turn out. Brandon should take this one and a future Mississippi State Bulldog, quarterback Will Rogers, will be the difference.
Provine (9-2) at Ridgeland (7-3)
This matchup will determine seeding in Class 5A-Region 2. The winner will earn the No. 3 seed, the loser the No. 4 seed. Provine is having its best season since it went 9-3 in 2007 and has turned around last year’s 3-8 record. Ridgeland, under first-year coach David White, is having its first winning season since 2013 when the Titans went 7-5.Two players to watch out for in this game are Provine wide receiver Deion Smith – considered the top college recruit in this year’s junior class in Mississippi – and Ridgeland quarterback Zy McDonald, also a junior and one of the top players at his position in his class in the state. Smith has caught 16 touchdowns. McDonald has passed for 18 TDs.These two teams haven’t played each other since 2012 when Ridgeland won 38-33. Ridgeland will repeat that result.
Pisgah (8-3) at Charleston (7-4)
Pisgah comes in as the No. 3 seed in a tough region, Class 2A, Region 4, behind Pelahatchie and South Delta, two teams with a combined record of 18-3. The Dragons must make a two-hour trip up Interstate 55 to Charleston, which finished as the No. 2 seed in 2A-3. Pisgah would like to advance a step further than it did last season when the Dragons went 10-3 and lost to Taylorsville in the second round. Charleston will take this one.
Hartfield (8-3) at Pillow (8-2)
Hartfield won its first playoff game in school history last week with a 21-0 victory over Park Place. Cruz Garner, Erick Short and Austin Willis scored one touchdown each and the Hawk defense kept Park Place out of the end zone. Hartfieldwon’t be able to keep Pillow from scoring. Pillow quarterback Shane Houston Stephens has passed for 2,449 yards and 26 touchdowns and the Mustangs’ only two losses are to Heritage and Greenville St. Joseph, who many consider the top two teams in the MAIS. Hartifeld has had its best season in school history, but this one will go to Pillow.
Brookhaven Academy (7-4) at Tri-County (8-2)
Tri-County has had a week off to recover from its 27-20 loss to Hartfield and get ready for Brookhaven. Tri-County is the top seed in Class 4A, District 2. Brookhaven defeated Kirk 27-0 in a first-round game last week and has won three in a row since losing to Riverfield 20-7. Riverfield is the only other team to beat Tri-County, edging the Rebels 50-49 early in the season. First-year Tri-County coach Philip Wasson is trying to get the Rebels to the championship game for the fourth time in the past five years. Only this time Wasson wants the trophy, something Tri-County hasn’t seen since 2012, the last time they were in Class A. Tri-County should take one more step toward the state title game.
Winners are Underlined
Greenville (3-7) at Madison Central (8-2) Thursday
Petal (9-1) at Terry (2-9) Thursday
Wingfield (1-10) at West Jones (10-0) Thursday
Brookhaven (5-5) at Forest Hill (4-7)
Callaway (4-6) at Neshoba Central (7-3)
Cleveland (2-8) at Canton (6-4)
Clinton (5-5) at Starkville (9-2)
Germantown (4-6) at Murrah (1-9)
Jim Hill (2-8) at Laurel (8-2)
Leland (3-8) at Pelahatchie (9-2)
Madison St. Joseph (3-7) at Northside (10-0)
Northwest Rankin (3-7) at Oak Grove (7-3)
Newton County (4-5) at Lanier (6-4)
Morton (4-7) at Velma Jackson (6-4)