Veteran 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 County. Robert had a 19-10 record (65.5 percent) last week and has a 154-53 record overall (74.4 percent) this season.

By Robert Wilson

Jackson Academy (6-2) at Jackson Prep (7-1)

JA and Prep have played 57 times in its unique rivalry – Prep leads 41-16 – where players, coaches, fans, and alumni are from the same family, go to the church and live in the same neighborhood. Some Prep players’ parents graduated at JA and some JA players’ parents graduated at Prep.

But never before has this happened. Both teams have first-year coaches (JA’s Aubrey Blackwell and Prep’s Doug Goodwin) and both are from Alabama.

Blackwell and Goodwin know each other from their days of Alabama but have never played each other as head coaches.

They first met when Blackwell was an assistant coach for Jimmy Perry, one of Goodwin’s best friends, when they were coaching at St. Paul’s in Mobile, and Goodwin was coaching at Auburn. Goodwin was in charge of summer camps and Blackwell worked the camps. They did meet in a spring game when Blackwell was head coach at Montgomery Catholic and Goodwin was helping his son, Dusty, who was head coach at Chelsea.

Blackwell, a 40-year-old former high school quarterback and college baseball player, comes to JA from Benjamin Russell High in Alexander City, Ala., where he had a 3-7 record in his one season there, playing in AHSAA Class 6A. Before Benjamin Russell, Blackwell led Montgomery Catholic to a 54-19 record in six seasons and reached the AHSAA Class 3A state championship game in 2020. Before Blackwell came to Catholic, the program had had only two winning seasons in 19 years. He led his team to the playoffs the last five seasons and had 12-, 11- and 10-win seasons. 

Goodwin, 59 and a former Auburn walk-on defensive back, won 234 games in his 27 years as a head coach in Alabama. In 2008, Goodwin became the first coach in Alabama history to take three different teams to a state championship game. He led his teams to 14 area and regional championships, 21 state playoff appearances, five state championship appearances, and one state championship. Goodwin led Demopolis to a 15-0 record and a state title in 2008 and set a state record with 761 points that season.

Goodwin was a special teams analyst for the past two seasons at Ole Miss and held a variety of coaching positions, including Director of High School Relations, at Auburn from 2014-2019. Goodwin was named the Alabama Football Coaches Association State Coach of the Year in 2008 and elected to the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

Both Blackwell and Goodwin have adjusted well to Mississippi high school football. Both are very well liked at each campus and have fitted in great with the teams and coaching staffs and have had success on the field.

Blackwell has molded a coaching staff with many new assistant coaches, many new starters and fought through adversity with injuries to several key players to win six games so far this season.

Goodwin has turned around Prep’s program, which had the most losses (five) last season since 1970, the first year of the school. Prep has seven wins with its only loss to three-time MAIS defending Class 6A state champion Madison-Ridgeland Academy.

JA is coming off a 38-6 loss to Hartfield Academy. The Raiders were missing their top two running backs (Merritt Nations and Omarean Ellis) and starting quarterback Clayton White among others due to injuries. Senior linebacker Adams Kennedy continues to have an outstanding season. He has an amazing 115 tackles, an average of 14.4 per game, this season.

Prep is coming off a 70-20 victory over MHSAA Class 4A Yazoo City. Senior running back Owen Ishee had 99 yards and three touchdowns and senior quarterback Paxton Thompson passed for 153 yards and two TDs and ran for one TD.

Thompson has passed for 1,775 yards (third in Mississippi, according to MaxPreps), and 22 TDs (tied for first in Mississippi, according to MaxPreps) this season. Senior wide receiver Will Upton has caught 47 passes for 845 yards (third in Mississippi, according to MaxPreps) and 12 TDs (tied for first in Mississippi, according to MaxPreps), returned 12 punts for 122 yards (a 10.2-yard average), and nine kickoffs for 113 yards (a 19.2-yard average).

Senior linebacker Duncan Mathews, a South Alabama baseball commitment, leads the Prep defense with 76 tackles, including 14.5 tackles for losses.

Both Kennedy and Mathews wear No. 2. It would be a good idea for both offenses to stay clear of those two tackling machines.

Prep has won 11 of the last 12 meetings. Prep gets another one.

Jackson Prep 31, JA 14.

In other games (winners listed in bold):

Brandon (6-0) at Meridian (2-3)

Canton (1-5) at Forest Hill (1-6), South Jackson Field

Canton Academy (7-1) at Benton Academy (0-8)

Central Hinds (5-3) at Copiah Academy (7-1)

Clinton (4-2) at Oxford (3-3)

Clinton Christian Academy (6-3) at Tri-County Academy (7-1)

East Rankin Academy (2-6) at Sacred Heart (2-4)

Florence (5-2) at West Jones (5-1)

Greenville Christian (3-4) at Hartfield Academy (6-1)

Grenada (5-2) at Germantown (4-3)

Hazlehurst (7-0) at McLaurin (1-6)

Hillcrest Christian (3-5) at Prentiss Christian (4-4)

Jim Hill (0-6-1) at Neshoba Central (5-2)

Madison Central (4-2) at Tupelo (7-0)

Madison-Ridgeland Academy (7-2) at Magnolia Heights (6-2)

Madison St. Joseph (4-4) at Lamar School (2-6)

McComb (5-1) at Lanier (0-7), North Jackson Field

Murrah (0-7) at Starkville (4-3)

Nanih Waiya (1-6) at Pelahatchie (0-7)

Northwest Rankin (2-4) at Petal (3-4)

Oak Grove (5-2) at Terry (4-3)

Pisgah (1-6) at Scott Central (5-2)

Provine (3-4) at Holmes County Central (5-1)

Puckett (6-1) at Velma Jackson (4-3)

Richland (3-4) at Collins (0-7)

St. Andrew’s (5-2) at Loyd Star (4-3)

South Pike (2-5) at Raymond (5-1)

Vicksburg (5-2) at Ridgeland (5-2)

Warren Central (5-1) at Pearl (2-5)