By Robert Wilson
Long time sportswriter and high school football expert Robert Wilson is doing a predictions column each week during the high school football season on teams from Hinds, Madison and Rankin Counties. Robert went 16-8 last week (66.7 percent) and is 94-30 (75.8 percent) for the season.
Madison Central (5-1) at Warren Central (5-0), Thursday
Madison Central has dominated the series with its Class 6A, Region 2 rivals from the River City, winning 14 of the last 16 games since 2006, including the last five meetings. The Jaguars have ended the Vikings’ season twice in the past five seasons. Luke Robertson caught a touchdown pass with 17 seconds in 2017 for a 28-26 Madison Central win in the playoffs. And that was after beating Warren Central 31-27 in double overtime during the regular season.
Quarterback Jimmy “The Jet” Holiday ran and passed his way for 266 yards and four TDs in a 28-7 Madison Central victory over Warren Central last season. But “The Jet” is playing in the SEC now for Tennessee.
Junior Tate Collins started this season at quarterback for the Jaguars, but he was injured and Coach Anthony Hart said he isn’t sure when he will return. Senior Creek Robertson, one of the top defensive backs in the state, is starting now at both at defensive back and quarterback. Also, Hart has used senior running back Duke Arnold and sophomore Vic Sutton at quarterback.
Warren Central is one of the most tradition-rich programs in Mississippi, dating back to legendary coach Lum Wright, who built the Vikings into a powerhouse program in the 1970s and early 1980s. Robert Morgan, Wright’s long time assistant, took over for Wright and coached Warren Central from 1985-2003. Now one of Morgan’s son, Josh, is the head Viking, in his 11th season. Josh played at Warren Central in the late 1990s and played at safety at Mississippi State in the early 2000s. Josh has had a problem winning with the Jaguars, winning only 16-14 in 2014 and 16-6 in 2015.
This may be Warren Central’s year. The Vikings have played well, with a solid defense and a ball control offense, a winning combo so far this season. It will continue against the Jaguars.
Warren Central 21, Madison Central 14.
Hartfield (4-3) at MRA (6-0), Thursday
Defending MAIS Class 6A champion Madison-Ridgeland Academy is rolling. The Patriots have won 13 straight games, 30 of its last 33 games, and 25 of its last 26 against MAIS teams. MRA is ranked No. 2 in Mississippi by MaxPreps. The Patriots are averaging 36.5 points per game and allowing only 10.8.
MRA has an Under Armour All-American in junior linebacker Stone Blanton and several other Division I recruits. The Patriots’ quarterback, Northwest Rankin transfer Zach Beasley, continues to play well and getting better with each game.
Hartfield, one of the fastest growing schools in MAIS, has become a force in almost every sport except football and is looking for a statement win over one of the “Big Three”, MRA, Jackson Prep or Jackson Academy, to show the Hawks belong among the elite football teams in the MAIS. Hartfield has won five of its six games on the field this season – the first two games were lost by forfeit for using an ineligible player – has several talented players, led by Mississippi State commit Brandon Buckhalter, who can hurt the opposition as a receiver, defensive back and return specialist. Also, quarterback Cruz Garner, who transferred to Brandon then transferred back to Hartfield, is a dangerous runner (283 yards) and has thrown nine TD passes. In addition, Hillcrest transfer Xavier Davis, a junior running back, has gained 812 yards and scored 19 TDs.
Hartfield is better, but isn’t in MRA’s league yet. The Patriots will celebrate homecoming with a win.
MRA 35, Hartfield 14.
Other games: (Winner in Bold)
Canton (1-3) at Neshoba Central (5-0)
Central Hinds (0-7) at Park Place (3-4)
Clinton Christian (0-6) at Tri-County (4-2)
George County (1-3) at Northwest Rankin (4-1)
Germantown (3-2) at South Panola (3-2)
Jackson Academy (4-3) at East Rankin (1-6)
Madison St. Joseph (2-3) at Pisgah (2-3)
McLaurin (0-5) at Crystal Springs (3-2)
Northeast Jones (0-3) at Florence (3-2)
Pelahatchie (2-3) at Yazoo City (1-3)
Petal (2-3) at Brandon (3-3)
Raymond (2-3) at McAdams (1-3)
Velma Jackson (3-0) at St. Andrew’s (1-4)
Winston (4-3) at Canton Academy (4-3)
Hillcrest (2-6) at Benton (4-4)
Rebul (0-7) at Prentiss Christian (2-4)
Washington (1-5) at Jackson Prep (5-1)