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. Wilson had a 2-1 record last week (66.7 percent) and has a 255-72 record (78.0 percent) for the season.

Velma Jackson (13-0) vs. Biggersville (11-1), Thursday, 4 p.m., Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford

Bernard Euell knew his team was very talented by the way they played during the regular season, winning every game by large margins.

But Euell – in his eighth season at Velma Jackson – found out how his team responded to adversity Friday night in the MHSAA Class 1A semifinals. And he liked what he saw.

Velma Jackson trailed Taylorsville by 16 points late in the first quarter but responded by scoring the next 36 points for a 44-22 victory.

Euell hopes his team has that same attitude this week when it plays in the first state football championship in school history. Euell has led Velma Jackson to two semifinal appearances, last season and in 2016.

Senior running back Gavin Griffin – MHSAA Class 1A Mr. Football – needs to have a big game like he has had in every game this season to bring home the state title to Madison County.

The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Griffin gained 191 yards on 18 carries and scored three touchdowns, returned a punt for a 62-yard TD, and had four 2-point conversions in the win last week. Griffin scored 16 points – a 1-yard touchdown run, a 62-yard punt return for a TD, and pair of two-point conversions – in a 2-minute span to tie up the game to ignite Velma Jackson from a 22-6 first-quarter deficit.

Griffin now has 1,780 rushing yards – 11.3 yards per carry – and 32 TDs and 24 2-point conversions while only playing an average of half of the games due to lopsided victories. This was his 10th 100-yard game this season. He also has three punt returns and two kickoff returns for TDs this season. Griffin is averaging 48.7 yards on three kickoff returns and 31.7 yards on eight punt returns.

Velma Jackson has a handful of talented players: senior quarterback Terrelle Smith, senior wide receiver Kentevian Young, senior wide receiver Lamar Kennedy, junior defensive lineman-wide receiver Tyshun Willis, senior linebacker Cornell Bacon, senior linebacker Kye Washington and senior linebacker Leroderick Harris.

This is Biggersville’s second state championship appearance, its first was in 2020 when the seniors on this team were freshman.

Velma Jackson will need keep Biggersville’s Nos. 1 and 2 in check to bring home the title. 

Senior running back-defensive back and Louisville commitment Jathan Hatch (No. 2) has 1,321 rushing yards, 21 TDs, 9 interceptions, 4 defensive TDs, 4 special teams TDs and senior running back-wide receiver-defensive back and Itawamba Community College baseball commitment Tre Gunn (No. 1) has 1,105 total yards, 23 TDs, 8 interceptions, 5 defensive TDs, 6 special teams TDs. 

Velma Jackson 40, Biggersville 18.


In other games (all games at Ole Miss’ Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in Oxford) (winners in bold):

MHSAA Class 7A, Saturday, 7 p.m.

Oak Grove (12-10) vs. Starkville (10-3)

MSHAA Class 6A, Friday, 7:30 p.m.

West Jones (13-0) vs. Grenada (11-3)

MHSAA Class 5A, Thursday, 7:30 p.m.

Laurel (8-6) vs. West Point (10-3)

MHSAA Class 4A, Saturday, Noon

Columbia (14-0) vs. Louisville (14-0)

MHSAA Class 3A, Saturday, 3:30 p.m.

Noxubee County (10-4) vs. Winona (14-0)

MHSAA Class 2A, Friday at 4 p.m.

Heidelberg (11-3) vs. Charleston (12-2)