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 19 of 25 games (a season high 76 percent) correctly last week. Robert is 61-24 overall for the season, a 71.7 winning percentage.
Pearl (3-0) at Madison Central (3-0)
Pearl has showed it is for real in the first three games of the season, winning by double figures over Clinton (32-22), Warren Central (42-0) and Ridgeland (62-21). The Pirates have scored 19, 28 and 41 points in the first half of the three wins. Running back Kenyatta Harrell leads the offensive charge. He rambled for 364 yards and six touchdowns last week. And he’s got plenty of talent around him. Add that explosive offense with a solid defense and that is a state title-like combo. But the Jaguars can match the Pirates step for step. Senior quarterback and TCU commitment Jimmy “the Jet” Holliday is difficult to slow down (a combined 621 rushing and passing yards and nine touchdowns this season). And the Jaguar D doesn’t budge much either. Ask Vicksburg, Brandon and Northwest Rankin about that. Those three opponents only managed 21 points. This one will go down to the final seconds with the home team pulling it out with a field goal.
Madison Central 17-14.
Terry (2-1) at Ridgeland (2-1)
First-year athletic director/head coach David White has a positive vibe going on at Ridgeland. Ok, they ran into a buzz saw last week at Pearl, but not many teams can hang with the Pirates. Ridgeland is much improved and is on its way to its first winning season since 2013. Terry, under first-year coach Bo Russum, has two shutouts in three games, beating pair of Class 4A opponents, Hinds County rival Raymond 55-0 in the season opener and Florence 33-0 last week. This is the Bulldogs’ last non-region game before they hit the brutal 6A schedule. Terry has won the last three meetings in this series, but that streak will end Friday night.
Adams County Christian School (3-0) at Jackson Prep (2-1)
Long time Prep coach Ricky Black and his Patriots have rebounded from their loss at talented Heritage Academy in the season opener. That’s trouble for the visitors from Adams County. Sure, superstar Jerrion Ealy is running up and down the field at Ole Miss this season, but Matt Jones is making some of his own noise on Lakeland Drive. ACCS coach David King and his Rebels are one of best teams in the newly formed MAIS Class 5A. They have averaged 11.3 wins over the past six years. Prep leads this series 23-1 and the teams haven’t played since 2003. ACCS won in 1982. This year’s ACCS team will give Prep a battle for three quarters, but depth and numbers will give Prep the edge in the final quarter. Look for Black to get career win No. 386.
Warren Central (2-1) at Brandon (2-1)
Brandon bounced back from its loss to Madison Central with a nice win over Clinton. Dandy Dozen quarterback Will Rogers, a Mississippi State commitment, completed 15 of 22 passes for 213 yards and one touchdown against Clinton. The Bulldog defense have given up 49 points in three games and head coach Tyler Peterson would like to limit Warren Central to a touchdown if possible this week. The Vikings are hoping for a better showing than the last time they visited Rankin County two weeks ago. Pearl dominated Warren Central 42-0. Look for Brandon to win as well.
Tri-County (2-1) at Carroll Academy (3-0)
Long time Tri-County fans remember Carroll head coach Bo Milton. Milton coached at Tri-County from 1997-2005 and won 78 games with two state runner-up finishes. Milton, who has 151 wins in his 23thyear as a head coach, has his team rolling. This could be his best team yet at Carroll. First-year Tri-County coach Phillip Wasson took over this tradition-rich football powerhouse and is two points away for being 3-0. The Rebel fans expect a deep run in the playoffs every year and want another state championship. Both of these teams have a legit shot of winning a state title, Tri-County in Class 4A and Carroll in 3A. Carroll will put up a good fight, but Tri-County is too strong.
McLaurin (2-1) at Richland (3-0)
It appears that head coach J.J. Plummer and his dad/advisor/assistant coach Johnny had visions of doing more than just breaking a 13-game losing streak when they arrived at Richland earlier this year. They accomplished that feat when they knocked off St. Andrew’s in the opener. The Rangers’ winning streak has grown to three after wins over New Orleans Home School and last week in an exciting win over J.J.’s alma mater, Madison St. Joseph. J.J. went for the win and Shane Wingate completed a two-point conversion pass to Bradley Watkins with 9 seconds to play for a 22-21 victory. McLaurin is ready to end all the excitement of their Rankin County rival north on Highway 49. McLaurin alumnus and third-year Tiger head coach Sid Wheatley inherited a 12-game losing streak in his first year in 2017. After four losses that year, Wheatley guided McLaurin to a 40-6 homecoming victory over Enterprise to snap the 16-game skid. McLaurin improved to 4-7 a year ago and better this season. Richland will escape with another close win.
Jim Hill (1-2) at Provine (3-0) (Hughes Field)
Long time Jackson Public School football fans remember the days of Provine head coaches Stanley Blackmon and Willie Collins and defensive coordinator Leon Sherrod in the 1980s, 90s and 2000s. The Rams were a dominate power in JPS, especially on defense, and reached the Class 5A state championship game in 1994, losing to Warren Central. Second-year Provine coach Tim Wilson is trying to bring back those days to the Rams sidelines again. He’s got off to a great start. With wins over Columbus 15-6, Lanier 21-0 and Murrah 26-6, Provine has won as many games as it won all last season. The Rams defense, led by senior cornerback and Mississippi State commitment Javorrius Selmon, is solid. First-year Jim Hill head coach Darrell Scott Jr. got his first career victory with a 26-6 decision over Port Gibson two weeks ago. Scott, who played at Forest Hill and Jackson State, was an assistant at Forest Hill, Canton, Vicksburg and Holmes County Central. The Rams are too much for the Tigers.
Northwest Rankin (0-3) at Clinton (1-2)
Clinton may have had the toughest opening three games in Mississippi, facing Top 10 teams Pearl, Olive Branch and Brandon. The Arrows definitely found out what it takes to be a contender in Class 6A. Clinton did come away with one victory when the Arrows surprised Olive Branch 13-7 in Olive Branch. It was one of the most impressive wins in the state this season. The Arrows get an apparent breather this week with winless Northwest Rankin. The Cougars have had a string of great seasons, but this one hasn’t gotten off to a good start. In Northwest Rankin’s defense, its first three games were pretty difficult as well, facing Top 10 teams Oxford and Madison Central and Class 6A Gulfport. This isn’t the same team that pounded Germantown, Ridgeland and Pearl to open last season on its way to an 11-2 record. The Cougars also beat the Arrows 34-14. The tables will be reserved this time.
Madison St. Joseph (0-3) at St. Andrew’s (1-2)
Both of these parochial football programs are hungry for success. St. Joe, led by former Mississippi State quarterback John Bond in his second year as head coach, lost at Class 4A St. Stanislaus 46-0 to open the season on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but have been competitive in losses to Natchez Cathedral 18-14 and Richland 22-21. St. Andrew’s made a road trip to East Mississippi in its second game of the season and came away with a 27-20 victory over Newton. But the Saints had a rough night last week, losing 53-13 at Pisgah, one of the top Class 2A teams in the state. St. Joe played much better than St. Andrew’s against their common opponent Richland this season.
St. Joe 20-12.
Callaway (3-0) at Leake County (1-2)
Canton (3-0) at Yazoo City (0-3)
Canton Academy (0-3) at Clinton Christian (2-1)
Copiah (1-2) at Central Hinds (0-3)
East Rankin (1-2) at Simpson (2-1)
Forest Hill (1-2) at Jefferson County (1-2)
Jackson Academy (1-2) at Northeast Lauderdale (1-2)
Leake (1-2) at Hartfield (3-0)
MRA (4-0) at Bayou (1-2)
Murrah (1-2) at Holmes County Central (1-2)
Pelahatchie (2-1) at Forest (0-2)
Pisgah (3-0) at Loyd Star (1-2)
Park Place (1-2) at Lamar (3-1)
Prairie View, La. (3-0) at Rebul (0-3)
Puckett (1-2) at West Lincoln (2-1)
Raymond (1-2) at Kemper County (0-3)
Riverfield, La. (3-0) at Hillcrest (0-4)
Scott Central (2-1) at Florence (0-3)
Wingfield (0-3) at Magee (3-0)