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 6-2 record (75.0 percent) last week and has a 253-74 record overall (77.6 percent) this season.
By Robert Wilson
Brandon (11-1) at Ocean Springs (12-0)
Second-year Brandon coach Sam Williams is one win away from taking his team to its second consecutive MHSAA Class 6A state championship appearance.
Undefeated Ocean Springs and senior quarterback and Alabama commitment Brayson Hubbard stands in Brandon’s way.
In addition, Brandon must make a three-hour road trip Friday to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Brandon’s defense, led by senior linebacker Dysart Bell, will try to slow down Hubbard, who has accounted for 3,707 yards and 40 touchdowns (2,084 passing yards and 21 TDs and 1,623 rushing yards and 19 TDs).
Brandon has plenty of offensive firepower of its own. Junior quarterback Landon Varnes (2,717 passing yards and 22 TDs), junior running back Nate Blount (1,612 yards and 22 TDs), senior wide receiver and Akron (Ohio) commitment Lester Miller (1,095 yards and 12 TDs) and senior center and Southern Miss commitment Luke Rogers key the Bulldogs offense.
Brandon and Ocean Springs have three common opponents – Clinton, Northwest Rankin, and Oak Grove. Brandon defeated Clinton 42-35 at Clinton and Ocean Springs defeated Clinton 31-13 at Clinton. Brandon defeated Northwest Rankin 36-28 at Brandon and Ocean Springs defeated Northwest Rankin 49-21 at Northwest Rankin. Brandon lost to Oak Grove 25-20 at Oak Grove and Ocean Springs defeated Oak Grove 42-25 at Oak Grove.
Brandon won three consecutive home playoff games before losing to Madison Central 24-17 in the 6A state championship game in Hattiesburg last year. Brandon stopped Oak Grove’s two-point conversion in the final minute for a 21-20 victory in the state semifinals last season.
Brandon won’t be as fortunate this year.
Ocean Springs 35, Brandon 28.
Velma Jackson (8-4) at Scott Central (11-2)
Velma Jackson and coach Bernard Euell gets their second chance at defending MHSAA Class 2A state champion Scott Central this season with an opportunity to reach the 2A state championship game on the line Friday night at Scott Central in Forest.
Scott Central won the first meeting 42-21 Oct. 27 at Scott Central.
The Scott Central game is the only game Velma Jackson has lost since the return of junior running back Gavin Griffin, who transferring from Hartfield Academy. Griffin has had an outstanding season and has gained 1,395 yards on 139 carries – 10.0 yards per carry – and 24 TDs. He is averaging 174.4 yards per game and has led to Velma Jackson to a 7-1 record in the games he has played in.
Griffin has some help. Junior quarterback Terrelle Smith has passed for 1,644 yards and 19 TDs and junior wide receiver Ken Young has 41 catches for 726 yards and seven TDs.
Senior linebacker Monta Luckett leads Velma Jackson’s defense with 136 tackles, sophomore defensive lineman Tyshun Willis with 18 sacks and senior defensive back James Jackson has five interceptions.
Scott Central makes it to its second straight championship game.
Scott Central 35, Velma Jackson 21.