Long time sportswriter and high school football expert Robert Wilson is doing the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard predictions column each week during the high school football season on teams from Hinds, Madison, and Rankin Counties. Robert had a 5-1 record (83.3 percent) last week and has a 252-65 (79.5 percent) this season.
By Robert Wilson
Oak Grove (10-2) at Brandon (10-2)
First-year Brandon coach Sam Williams is considered one of the brightest and most successful young football coaches in Mississippi. The former Northwest Rankin High and Mississippi State wide receiver has a 47-16 record, a 74.6 percent winning percentage, in his fifth season at a head coach and has led his team to the playoffs each year. But Williams can win Friday night, he can do something he has yet to achieve: reaching the state championship game.
Brandon comes in as one of the hottest teams in the state, winning its last 10 games after two opening season losses.
Brandon defeated Oak Grove 24-17 Oct. 22 behind sophomore running back Nate Blount, who had 260 yards and one touchdown on 36 carries. Blount is out with an injury and did not play last week in last week’s 42-17 victory over Warren Central. Junior Jarvis Durr took most of the carries and has gained 842 yards and 13 TDs this season.
Oak Grove, the defending MHSAA Class 6A state champions, was nationally ranked and had won 16 games in a row before losing 48-41 to MAIS Class 3A state champion Greenville Christian, now nationally ranked and the highest ranked team in Mississippi. Oak Grove has won 24 of its last 26 games and 32 of it last 35 games and has been in the state championship each of the last three seasons.
While Brandon is missing one of its key players when it played Oak Grove in the first meeting, Oak Grove has one back who didn’t play against Brandon. Division I prospect and 6-foot-3, 288-pound senior offensive tackle Klabron Pollard, son of former Southern Miss star Lytrel Pollard, anchors the offensive line, which paved the way for 360 rushing yards in last week’s 28-21 victory over previously undefeated Ocean Springs.
Ocean Springs 28, Brandon 21.
Madison Central (11-1) at Starkville (12-1)
Madison Central can reach the Class 6A state championship for the first time the Jaguars won the title in 1999 with a victory Friday night. But they must defeat the only team which beat them this season.
Starkville, behind super sophomore quarterback Trey Petty, scored 28 points in the second half for a come-from-behind, 35-28 victory over Madison Central Sept. 24 in Starkville.
First-year coach Toby Collums might have done his best job coaching this season last week in a 31-21 victory over Oxford when he was able to win despite missing star running back Robert Dumas (1,011 and 21 TDs), out with a knee injury, and the second half without starting quarterback Vic Sutton, who was injured in the first half. Junior Jake Norris took over for Sutton and completed 6 of 9 passes for 119 yards and one TD and ran for a TD to help the Jaguars. Deandre Pullen replaced Dumas and had 141 yards on 17 carries and one TD against Oxford.
Madison Central has two talented receivers in junior Isaiah Spencer (47 catches, 931 yards, eight TDs) and senior tight end and Tulane commitment Blake Gunter (24 catches, 379 yards, four TDs), who was a member of the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Elite 11 Preseason Team.
Starkville has won five straight games since its only defeat, a 42-35 decision to Oxford on Oct. 22.
Starkville 28, Madison Central 21.
Pelahatchie (8-5) at Scott Central (13-0)
Second-year Pelahatchie coach Ryan Keaton is making history this season at the Scott County Class 2A school. He has led the Chiefs to their first second round and third round playoff victories (39-35 over Philadelphia and 48-20 over Kemper County). Pelahatchie hasn’t won a second-round game since 2001 when coach Bill Ward led the Chiefs to a state championship. Now, Keaton will try to take the next step, but it will be a very difficult one.
Pelahatchie takes on Scott Central, the favorite to win the Class 2A state title, in the semifinals. Scott Central defeated Pelahatchie 52-0, the last of four consecutive losses for the Chiefs. But Pelahatchie hasn’t lost since, winning its last six games.
Scott Central has dominated Class 2A for the past several years. The Rebels have won 13, 9, 11 and 15 over the past four years and won the state championship in 2018.
Pelahatchie star running back-safety Quay Ragsdale needs to have a monster game to upset Scott Central.
Scott Central 28, Pelahatchie 14.