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 went 16-4 last week (80.0 percent) and is 50-10 (83.3 percent) for the season.
Ridgeland (2-0) at Northwest Rankin (1-1)
Sam Williams is going back home this week.
The first-year Ridgeland head coach was wide receiverat Northwest Rankin from 2007-2009 and assistant coach at Northwest Rankin for five years before Williams took his first head coaching position at Pelahatchie. He had a 27-11 record in three seasons, taking the Chiefs to the Class 2A playoffs each year. Williams, 28, coached wide receivers and special teams and was the offensive coordinator for three seasons at Northwest Rankin. He was an assistant under current Northwest Rankin coach Toby Collums for Collums’first two seasons. Current Northwest Rankin assistant Chris Gardner was Williams’ receiver coach. Gardner now handles special teams. In addition, current Northwest Rankin assistant coaches Chad Walberg and Caden Loper and ninth grade coach Doug Lycette were assistants when Williams played. Also, current assistant coaches Quade Smith and Nigel Green were freshmen at Northwest when Williams was a senior.
“Sam has done a phenomenal job since becoming a head coach,” Collums said. “His record speaks for itself. He is extremely driven and it is remarkable what he’s done at Ridgeland considering he couldn’t have any contact with his team until June, where he started from scratch with scheme and philosophy.”
“Friday night will be really special for me personally as I go back to a place that I have so many fond memories of,” said Williams, who also played at Mississippi State. “This will be my first time to compete in a NWR game for a team other than the Cougars and I am extremely excited about taking this great group of young men to battle in Flowood.”
Williams brings one of the most powerful offenses in Mississippi with him.
Ridgeland senior quarterback Zy McDonald, rated as the No. 3 quarterback in Mississippi and No. 37 in the nation by 247 Sports, has passed for 593 yards and eight touchdowns and ran for 198 yards and three scores in two games this season. McDonald, who has verbally committed to Louisiana Lafayette, was named the Junction Deli/Mississippi Scoreboard Football Player of the Week after passing for 344 yards and three TDs and running for 146 yards and two TDs in a 34-14 victory over Pearl in the season opener two weeks ago. McDonald’s top two targets are senior Richard Mays, a Louisiana-Monroe commit, and sophomore Ayden Williams, who have each caught 12 passes for 294 and 200 yards respectively and combined for five TDs.
Northwest Rankin counters with a Player of the Week of its own. Junior running back Cam Marion was the Junction Deli/Mississippi Scoreboard Football Player of the Week this week after rushing for 161 yards on 31 carries and three TDs in a 28-21 win over Clinton. Also, senior quarterback Caleb “Sauce” Parten has passed for 487 yards and four TDs.
McDonald and Co. will give Williams a happy homecoming.
Ridgeland 35, NW Rankin 28.
Lamar (2-2) at Jackson Prep (4-0)
Two of the winningest coaches in Mississippi history – Prep’s Ricky Black and Lamar’s Mac Barnes – play each other Friday night in Flowood. Black is second in career wins with 397, including 259 at Prep since he arrived in 1997. Barnes has 325 wins, the third most among active coaches, and he is in his 40th season, 20th at Lamar. Black has 13 state titles, all at Prep. Barnes has eight titles, two at Meridian and six at Lamar. Both had their state title runs stopped last season. Black had won seven in a row before losing to Madison-Ridgeland Academy in the Class 6A state title game. Barnes had won three straight titles before losing in the Class 5A quarterfinals to Starkville Academy. They are good friends, but will put their friendship aside for about two hours Friday night. Black is 12-0 against Barnes in MAIS games. But Barnes beat Black when Barnes was at Meridian and Black was at Tupelo for the 1990 state public school Class 5A championship. This one will end up in Prep’s favorwith a strong fourth quarter by the Patriots.
Prep 31, Lamar 21.
Pisgah (2-0) at Richland (2-0)
Head coaches Michael Granberry and J.J. Plummer has gotten their respective teams at Pisgah and Richland off to good starts with two consecutive wins. But both would be quick to say neither would be where they are today if it wasn’t for their fathers, longtime coaches Kenny Granberryand Johnny Plummer. They are still helping their sons. Both will be on the sidelines Friday night giving suggestions to their sons. Kenny Granberry has been coaching for three decades and won 204 games as a head coach at Raymond High and Central Hinds Academy. Johnny Plummer has been helping J.J. for 23 seasons. This is Johnny’s 56th year coaching. He has been the head coach at Delta State and Northeast Mississippi Community College and at high schools at Corinth, Leakesville, Cleveland, Greenville Washington, Madison St. Joe and Woodland Hills Baptist Academy. He won 202 games during his career. Plummer was also on Emory Bellard’s staff at Mississippi State. Plummer retired in 1997, but has helped his son ever since.
The Granberrys guided Pisgah to an 8-4 record last season, including a 28-7 victory over Richland. The Plummers won their first four games at Richland last season, breaking a 13-game losing streak. But Pisgah ended the winning streak and started Richland’s losing streak, which ended with seven straight losses to last season. Pisgah will repeat what it did last season.
Pisgah 21, Richland 14.
Other games: (Projected winner in bold)
Bowling Green, La. (2-1) at Clinton Christian (0-4)
Canton Academy (2-2) at Tri-County (3-0)
Central Hinds (0-4) at Parklane (1-1)
Florence (0-2) at Forest (1-1)
Germantown (2-0) at Terry (1-1)
Hartfield (1-3) at Simpson (2-2)
Jackson Academy (2-2) at Oak Forest, La. (0-1)
Leake Central (1-1) at Velma Jackson (0-0)
Madison Central (2-0) at Brandon (0-2)
Madison St. Joseph (1-1) at West Lincoln (1-1)
McLaurin (0-2) at Morton (1-1)
Mize (0-0) at St. Andrew’s (0-2)
Park Place (2-2) at East Rankin (1-3)
Pearl (0-2) at Warren Central (2-0)
Pelahatchie (1-1) at Bay Springs (1-1)
Philadelphia (0-2) at MRA (4-0)
Porter’s Chapel (3-1) at Hillcrest (0-5)
Puckett (2-0) at Bogue Chitto (0-2)
Raymond (1-1) at Newton (1-0)
Riverdale, La. (2-2) at Rebul (0-4)