Long time sportswriter and high school football expert Robert Wilson will be doing a predictions column each week during the high school football season on teams from Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties. Robert picked 25 of 28 games (a season high 89.2 percent) correctly, including 9-0 on the big game picks, last week. Robert is 86-27 overall for the season, a 76.1 winning percentage.
Richland (4-0) at Pisgah (4-0)
Michael Granberry is in his eighth season as Pisgah’s head coach and his teams have gradually improved each year with four consecutive winning seasons. The Dragons were 10-3 last season, losing to Taylorsville in the Class 2A playoffs. Pisgah has whipped Richland for the past two seasons, winning 51-35 in 2017 and 41-13 last season in the middle of the Rangers’ 13-game losing streak. But things are on the upswing at Richland. First-year coach J.J. Plummer has the Rangers rolling. They know what the sweet taste of victory feels like and don’t plan on quitting any time soon. The Class 4A Rangers are too much for the 2A Dragons.
Bay Springs (4-0) at Pelahatchie (3-1)
Pelahatchie coach Sam Williams and his Chiefs have had this game circled on their calendars since last season. Pelahatchie was on its way to a possible state championship when Bay Springs ended the Chiefs’ season with a 49-43 upset in the second round of the Class 2A playoffs. Pelahatchie was 11-0 against Mississippi teams before Bay Springs pulled off the upset. Bay Springs went on to finish 11-4 and lost to Taylorsville in the semifinals. Bay Springs and Pelahatchie both have their sights on making a deep run in the playoffs nd have combined to win seven of their first eight games. Pelahatchie’s only loss was to defending 2A state champion Scott Central, whose only loss a year ago was to Pelahatchie. Like Scott Central, Pelahatchie will get their revenge from last season.
Jackson Prep (3-1) at Lamar (3-1)
Two of the winningest coaches in Mississippi history – Prep’s Ricky Black and Lamar’s Mac Barnes – face each other Friday night in Meridian. Black, second with 386 career wins, is chasing Centreville’s Bill Hurst, who has a Mississippi record 402 wins. Barnes has 318 career wins in 39 seasons, the last 19 at Lamar. Black’s Patriots has won a Mississippi seven consecutive state titles. Barnes’ Raiders, which plays in one division smaller than Prep, has won three consecutive state titles. Black has 13 state titles, all at Prep. Barnes has eight titles, two at Meridian and six at Lamar. These guys are good friends, but they will put their friendship aside for about two hours Friday night. Black is 11-0 vs Barnes while they been at Prep and Lamar. Barnes did beat Black when Barnes at Meridian and Black was at Tupelo. They played once, for the state championship in 1990. Black and Barnes are both incredible coaches, but Prep has more talent and depth. Coach Black will get win No. 387.
Simpson (3-1) at Hartfield (4-0)
Hartfield may be the most improved team in the state. The Hawks won only three games a year ago, but have not only surpassed that win total this season they have done it in dominating fashion. Hartfield has scored 40 or more points in each of their last three games. All that dominating comes to a stop when traditional power Simpson comes rolling in Rankin County Friday night. The Cougars rarely are dominated. Simpson lost to Lamar for the state title for the past two seasons. Simpson beat Hartfield 47-9 last year. This is a great test for Hartfield to see how far it has come. Not far enough to win this one.
Brandon (3-1) at Zachary, La. (1-2)
The game was set up as a possible showcase for two of the best teams in their respective states. Brandon comes in still as one of those even though they lost to Madison Central last week. Zachary, the two-time defending Class 5A state champions in Louisiana, has gotten off to a rocky start, losing two of its first three games. Zachary won 13 games in 2017 and 15 last year. Doesn’t look like they will repeat again. Brandon quarterback Will Rogers will bring home a victory back to the Magnolia State.
MRA (5-0) at Philadelphia (3-1)
MRA has been rolling over opponents this season with incredible ease, with an average victory margin of 42 points. Senior quarterback Philip Short has put up big numbers despite not playing most of the game. He will get his chance to play four quarters this week. Philadelphia is one of the best Class 2A public schools In Mississippi. The school that produced Marcus Dupree, who many believe is the best high school player in Mississippi history, is loaded with talent, led by wide receiver Lideatrick “Tulu” Griffin, one of the best athletes to come out of Philly and a Mississippi State commitment. It is going to take a near perfect effort by the Patriots to come away with a win in Neshoba County. Philly will take this one.
Terry (2-2) at Germantown (2-1)
Germantown, who is in its first year playing Class 6A, has one more non-region game before entering the fire of 6A Region 2 with teams like Madison Central and South Panola. The Mavericks had a week off to recover form their upset loss to Class 4A Canton. Terry, under first year coach Bo Russum, has had two lopsided wins, but both losses by two touchdowns. The Bulldogs will get a third. Germantown bounces back.
Clinton Christian (3-1) at Bowling Green, La. (4-1)
Coach Chris Bnio turned around Clinton Christian last year in his second season. The Crusaders went from 4-7 in 2017 to 8-4 last season. CCA wants to match or better that record this year and are off to a good start. Bowling Green, located in Franklinton, La., about 10 miles south of the Mississippi border, is going to be difficult to beat. Just ask Centreville’s Bill Hurst, the winningest coach in Mississippi history. Centreville lost to Bowling Green for the past two seasons, including 14-12 in Centreville three weeks ago. CCA will have a long bus ride home.
Bowling Green 21-12
Bogue Chitto (2-2) at Puckett (2-2)
Forest (0-3) at Florence (0-4)
Morton (1-3) at McLaurin (2-2)
East Rankin (1-3) at Park Place (1-3)
Hillcrest (0-5) at River Oaks, La. (1-3)
Lanier (2-1) at Columbus (0-3)
Newton (0-4) at Raymond (2-2)
Oak Forest, La., (2-2) at Jackson Academy (2-2)
Parklane (3-1) at Central Hinds (0-4)
Provine (4-0) at Forest Hill (1-3) (South Jackson)
Rebul (0-4) at Riverdale, La. (0-4)
St. Andrew’s (0-3) at Mize (4-0)
Tri-County (3-1) at Canton Academy (0-4)
Velma Jackson (0-3) at Leake Central (2-2)
West Lincoln (2-2) at Madison St. Joseph (1-3)
Wingfield (0-4) at Crystal Springs (4-0)