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 15 of 24 games (a season low 62.5 percent) correctly last week, but is predicting a big turnaround this week. Robert is 101-36 overall for the season, a 73.7 winning percentage.
Taylorsville (5-0) at Jackson Prep (4-1)
Prep coach Ricky Black is no stranger to playing public school competition. In fact, his Patriots played in the first public-private football matchup back in 2001 when George County came to Prep. George County won that game, but Prep has had their share of public school victories, including a 27-20 overtime win over Bassfield in 2013 when Bassfield had four Dandy Dozen players and went on to win its second straight Class 2A state title. It was Bassfield’s only loss that season. The Yellowjackets had the longest winning streak in the state – 21 games – before Prep beat them. That fact will be sure to be brought up this week by Taylorsville’s Mitch Evans, who has a 20-1 record as the Tartars head coach. The Tartars were the Class 2A state runner up to Scott Central and are the favorite to win it this season. Taylorsville avenged last year’s loss with a 32-12 win over Scott Central in the season opener and has won by an average of 30 points per game. Evans knows Black will have his Patriots ready. Not many thought Prep would pull off the win over Bassfield in 2013 and the same is true Friday night. Look for Black to pull off another surprising victory and get career win No. 388.
Prep 28-27 in overtime.
Pearl (3-1) at Petal (3-1)
The last time Pearl played was two weeks ago when the Pirates went to the Jungle at Madison Central and watched Jaguar quarterback Jimmy “the Jet” Holiday run up and down the field. That didn’t sit well with Pearl coach John Perry and he got the attention of his defense for the past two weeks. The Pirates will be focused Friday night for its trip to the Pine Belt. It won’t be easy. Petal’s Marcus Boyles is the third winningest active coach in Mississippi with 322 victories. The Panthers, like the Pirates, lost their first game two weeks ago, but have had a week off to recover. Boyles wants to get them back to the Class 6A championship game like he did in 2015 when they won 10 games. But Pearl has too much talent to win this week.
MRA (5-1) at Briarcrest, Tenn. (5-0)
MRA played talented Philadelphia a great game last week, but lost 21-14. MRA had won by an average of 42 points prior to last week. Quarterback Philip Short, a Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College commit, passed for 281 yards and two touchdowns, but it wasn’t enough against Philly. The bad news for MRA fans is Briarcrest is even better than Philly. The Saints are rolling and defeated St. Benedict 57-0 last week. And even more bad news for MRA is Briarcrest remembers last year when MRA rallied with 21 points in the final seven minutes to pull off a 42-35 upset over Briarcrest in Madison. This will be a tough trip to Memphis for MRA.
Madison Central (4-0) at Clinton (2-2)
Clinton All-American Cam Akers was a thorn in Madison Central’s side from 2014-16 as the now Florida State running back had games of 335 running and passing yards and four touchdowns as a sophomore, 382 yards and two TDs as a junior and 408 yards and two TDs as a senior and led the Arrows to three consecutive victories. But since then, it’s been the Jimmy “the Jet” Holiday carrying the Jags to two straight wins. Holiday had games of 232 rushing and passing yards and three TDs in 2017 and 224 yards and five TDs last season. Look for Holiday to have an even better game this season.
Madison Central 28-10.
Ridgeland (3-1) at Canton (4-0)
Both of these teams and coaches – Ridgeland first-year coach David White and Canton third-year coach Calvin Bolton – have done fabulous jobs with their respective teams so far this season. White, who came from the University of Nevada, has turned around the Titans’ program and appear to be headed toward their first winning season since 2013. Bolton carried the Tigers to their first winning season since 2007 last season and is off to an even better start this year. Bolton opened up a lot of eyes when he surprised Class 6A Germantown in overtime earlier this season. This one is even more important to Bolton because he was an assistant at Ridgeland for 14 seasons. This is the first Region 2 game for both teams and both coaches know a win Friday night to be a huge start in region play. Ridgeland won last year 38-35. Look for another tight one. The home team pulls it out.
Jackson Academy (3-2) at Pelahatchie (3-2)
This is the first time these two teams have met in football. JA has played several public schools over the years, but not Pelahatchie. This is Pelahatchie’s second private school opponent. The Chiefs beat Hartsfield 44-14 in 2017. JA bounced back from its 48-7 loss to rival MRA with wins over public school Northeast Lauderdale 42-27 and MSAIS opponent Oak Forest, La. 31-24. JA coach Larry Weems knows about the Chiefs’ tradition of good football because he was previously the head coach at Pearl, in Rankin County like Pelahatchie. The Chiefs have already matched their loss total of last year when they won 11 games before being upset by Bay Springs in the Class 2A playoffs, but Pelahatchie has enough talent to hold off JA.
Warren Central (2-2) at Germantown (3-1)
Germantown has played well in its baptism into Class 6A football so far with its only hiccup a 21-14 overtime loss to Class 5A Canton. This is the Mavericks’ first Region 2 game and head coach Tim Shramek wants to get off to a good start in regional play with a win. Shramek knows what it takes to win in 6A because he was an assistant coach and coordinator at Madison Central from 2001-2010 and Clinton from 1995-2000. Shramek has had a week to get his Mavericks ready for this one. Warren Central, like Germantown, did not play last week. The Vikings took 6A contender Brandon down to the wire two weeks ago, losing 10-9. They will fall just short again.
Wingfield (0-5) at Forest Hill (1-4) (South Jackson)
Although these teams have won only one game between them, the Battle of Raymond Road is always an intense game between these longtime Jackson Public School rivals just several miles apart in South Jackson. Forest Hill leads the series 27-14, which started in 1978 and has been played every year since. Forest Hill has won 9 of the last 11 meetings. Wingfield won in 2016 and 2017. Wingfield’s 34-25 victory over Forest Hill in 2017 was the Falcons’ last win. Wingfield has lost 20 straight games. Forest Hill, under second year coach Jeremy Jones, should make increase Wingfield’s streak to 21. The Patriots took undefeated Provine to double overtime last week before losing.
Forest Hill 28-6.
Richland (4-1) at Choctaw Central (1-3) (Thursday)
Brandon (3-2) at Terry (2-3)
Cleveland Central (1-3) at Callaway (3-1) (North Jackson)
Florence (1-4) at Collins (1-4)
Jefferson County (2-3) at Lanier (2-2)
Jim Hill (1-3) at Natchez (2-2)
Madison St. Joseph (2-3) at Velma Jackson (1-3)
Murrah (1-3) at Greenville (2-2)
Northwest Rankin (0-4) at Meridian (1-4)
Pisgah (5-0) at Eupora (1-4)
Provine (5-0) at Vicksburg (1-3)
Puckett (3-2) at McLaurin (2-3)
Raymond (3-2) at Franklin County (0-5)
West Liincoln (2-3) at St. Andrew’s (1-4)
Canton Academy (0-5) at East Rankin (0-4)
Central Hinds (0-5) at Greenville St. Joseph (5-0)
Greenville Christian (1-4) at Hiilcrest (1-5)
Hartfield (5-0) at Oak Forest, La. (2-3)
Park Place (2-3) at Leake (1-4)
River Oaks, La. (1-4) at Clinton Christian (3-2)
Sharkey-Issaquena (3-2) at Rebul (0-5)
Winston (2-3) at Tri-County (3-2)