Veteran sportswriter and high school football expert Robert Wilson is doing the PriorityOne Bank predictions column each week during the high school football season on teams from Hinds, Madison, and Rankin County. Robert had a 23-6 record (79.3 percent) last week and has a 135-43 record overall (75.8 percent) this season.
By Robert Wilson
Clinton (3-2) at Madison Central (4-1)
Clinton and coach Judd Boswell haven’t beaten Madison Central since 2016 when All-American Cam Akers and the Arrows defeated the Jaguars twice, 30-21 in the regular season and 38-34 in the MHSAA Class 6A state semifinals on their way to a state championship.
Could Clinton do it this year? The Arrows’ offense is definitely clicking, scoring 35, 35, 32 and 35 points in the last four games, including last week’s impressive 35-28 victory over Starkville.
Senior running back Jakobe Calvin – a member of the PriorityOne Bank Metro Jackson Preseason Elite 11 Team – and senior quarterback Jordyn Battee accounted for all five touchdowns and Clinton never trailed against Starkville. Calvin had 195 rushing
had 195 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Battee had 76 rushing yards and two TDs and 66 passing yards and one TD pass.
Calvin has 544 yards and 10 TDs and caught 10 passes for 103 yards and one TD this season. Battee has passed for 426 yards and three TDs and run for 360 yards and five TDs.
Madison Central’s pair of Elite 11 stars – senior quarterback and Louisiana Tech commitment Vic Sutton and senior wide receiver and Southern Miss commitment Isaiah Spencer – have both had solid seasons. Sutton has passed for 851 yards and eight TDs. Spencer has caught 28 passes for 447 yards and three TDs. But the guy Clinton needs to keep an eye on when the Jaguars get close to the goal line is senior tight end and Navy commitment Jake Norris, who also lines up at a running back at times. Here’s an amazing stat: the 6-foot-3, 232-pound Norris scores every three times he touches the ball. He has four TDs in 10 carries and three TDs in 12 catches this season.
Madison Central has bounced back from its 28-7 loss to Brandon – which broke a 10-game winning streak – with three victories over Northwest Rankin, Starkville, and Grenada. The Jaguars will make it fourth straight.
Madison Central 28, Clinton 21.
Hartfield Academy (5-1) at Jackson Academy (6-1)
First-year JA coach Aubrey Blackwell has put together an experienced coaching staff, which includes defensive coordinator David Duggan, who has 24 years of college coaching experience (including seven years at Southern Miss) and has been a part of five different conference championship teams. He also coached in NFL Europe for seven years. Another new addition to the JA coaching staff is former Morton High, Ole Miss and NFL wide receiver Shay Hodge. Hodges came over from Provine High and brings a wealth of experience from training high school, college, and pro athletes for many years.
Blackwell and his assistants have led the Raiders to their best start since 2018 with their only loss a 21-6 decision to three-time defending MAIS Class 6A champion Madison-Ridgeland Academy. It was the fewest points MRA scored all season. The Patriots even scored more points Tennessee state champion Oakland and Arkansas state champion Pulaski Academy.
Some say this defensive group is one of the best on Sheffield Drive in a while. Senior linebacker Adams Kennedy has some putting up some monster numbers of tackles each game. He is averaging 14.9 tackles per game. The JA defense has 14 turnovers (10 interceptions and four fumble recoveries). The Raider defensive backs are talented, led by sophomore DJ Watkins, who has four interceptions and six pass breakups.
JA’s defense limited two-time MAIS Class 3A state champion Greenville Christian to zero points and 30 yards through three quarters in last week’s 47-12 victory.
JA’s offense started slow, but scored 34, 42 and 47 in its last three wins over Madison St. Joe, Pillow and Greenville Christian. The emergence of junior wide receiver and Terry High transfer Dre Terry has been big. Terry leads JA with 184 receiving yards and three TDs despite only playing four games. Also, junior quarterback Maddox Greer has played well, replacing regular starter Clayton White (out due to concussion protocol). The offensive line has made great strides since the first of the season.
Hartfield senior quarterback Trip Maxwell, a transfer from Oxford High, has completed 67.2 percent of his passes for 1,276 yards – 12th best in Mississippi, according to MaxPreps – and 16 TDs. Senior Gage Sorey and junior Reed Jesiolowski have combined for 51 receptions for 818 yards and 11 TDs. Jesiolowski also has a team-high 259 rushing yards and three TDs, being used as a running back due to some injuries at that position.
Sorey has eight interceptions – tied for seventh in the country and second in Mississippi, according to MaxPreps. Defensive lineman London Simmons, a 6-2, 258-pound sophomore, has a team-high 46 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks. JA better watch out for talented linebacker Chris Jones, a 6-foot, 210-pound junior who can cause havoc for any offense. And freshman defensive back Bralan Womack is one of the rising stars in the MAIS.
Hartfield junior kicker Connor Mullins is having an outstanding season. He has made 5 of 5 field goal attempts, including a school record 53 yarder against Bayou Academy (the longest in Mississippi and tied for seventh longest in the country this season), and 24 of 27 extra point attempts. Mullins also has 15 touchbacks out of 35 kickoffs and averaging 38.9 punts with a long of 58 yards.
Hartfield, in its second year in Class 6A under coach Craig Bowman, is 0-3 vs. JA, losing 45-12 in 2018, 52-0 in 2019 and 21-17 last season. JA handed Hartfield its first loss after seven consecutive wins last season when it executed an 87-yard TD on a reverse pass for the winning score midway through the fourth quarter. JA limited Hartfield – which came into the game averaging 42.7 points – to just 195 total yards and talented senior running back Xavier Davis to a season-low 34 yards, 106 yards below his season average going into that game.
JA’s defense could be the difference Friday like it was last season.
JA 14, Hartfield 10.
In other games (winners in bold):
Callaway (6-0) at Vicksburg (4-2) (Thursday)
Forest Hill (1-5) at Provine (2-4) South Jackson Field (Thursday)
South Pike (1-5) at Wingfield (0-5) North Jackson (Thursday)
Central Hinds Academy (4-3) at Cathedral (3-4)
Clinton Christian Academy (6-2) at Canton Academy (6-1)
Discovery Christian (0-7) at Tallulah, La., Academy (5-1)
Germantown (3-3) at Oxford (3-2)
Grenada (4-2) at Murrah (0-6) North Jackson
Hattiesburg (2-4) at Florence (5-1)
Hillcrest Christian (2-5) at Parkers Chapel, Ark. (0-4)
Holmes County Central (4-1) at Jim Hill (0-5) South Jackson
Jackson Prep (6-1) at Yazoo City (0-6)
Lanier (0-6) at Raymond (4-1)
Leake Academy (2-4) at East Rankin Academy (2-5)
Madison-Ridgeland Academy (6-2) at Presbyterian Christian School (4-3)
Madison St. Joseph (3-4) at Sacred Heart (2-3)
McLaurin (1-5) at Crystal Springs (3-3)
Northeast Jones (4-2) at Richland (3-3)
Petal (3-3) at Brandon (5-0)
Puckett (5-1) at North Forrest (0-6)
Ridgeland (5-1) at Neshoba Central (4-2)
Scott Central (4-2) at Pelahatchie (0-6)
Terry (3-3) at Pearl (2-4)
Tri-County Academy (7-0) at Adams County Christian School (7-0)
Velma Jackson (3-3) at Pisgah (1-5)
Warren Central (4-1) at Northwest Rankin (2-3)
West Lincoln (0-6) at St. Andrew’s (4-2)