Long time 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 Counties. Robert had a 20-9 record (70.0 percent) last week and has a 176-54 (76.5 percent) this season.
Oak Grove (6-1) at Brandon (5-2)
Defending MHSAA Class 6A state champion Oak Grove comes Rankin County Friday night with a 19-game winning streak against MHSAA teams with its last loss a 31-21 decision to Oxford in the 2019 6A state championship game. Oak Grove’s only loss this season was a 48-41 decision to nationally ranked Greenville Christian School of the MAIS. Oak Grove has won 27 of its last 28 games against MHSAA competition and has been in the 6A state championship game for the past three seasons. The Warriors have won more games than any team in 6A in the past six seasons. Oak Grove is ranked No. 83 in the nation in the High School Football America’s Top 100 poll.
First-year Brandon coach Sam Williams also has his Bulldogs rolling. Brandon has won five straight games, including last week’s 42-28 victory over Meridian where sophomore Landon quarterback Varnes passed for 308 yards and one touchdown, junior wide receiver Lester Miller caught five passes for 241 yards and three TDs and the running back duo of junior Jarvis Durr and sophomore Nate Blount, who combined for 237 yards and two TDs. Varnes has completed 58.8 percent of his passes for 1,441 yards and 11 TDs and Durr and Blount has combined for 1,204 yards and 15 TDs this season.
Oak Grove has beaten Brandon in the last three meetings, 24-22 last season, 36-28 in 2019 and 21-10 in the 6A playoffs in 2018.
Williams has won his share of big games in his sixth season as a head coach. The former Northwest Rankin High and Mississippi State wide receiver led Pelahatchie to a 27-11 record and took the Chiefs to the Class 2A playoffs all three seasons. He then went to Ridgeland where he led the Titans to a 10-3 record and the Class 5A semifinals behind senior quarterback Zy McDonald, the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard Metro Jackson Player of the Year. McDonald is now a freshman at Louisiana-Lafayette.
Oak Grove has a handful of Division I recruits like McDonald and has too much talent for Brandon.
Oak Grove 35, Brandon 28.
Hartfield (7-1) at Jackson Prep (6-3)
History will be made Friday night at Prep when these two Rankin County MAIS schools meet for the first time in football. This is Hartfield’s 10th year as a school and its first in the highest classification of the MAIS. Prep is the long-time king of MAIS football, winning 21 state championships, including 13 of those by former National High School Football Coach of the Year and Mississippi Hall of Fame member Ricky Black. Black surprisingly resigned in February and Prep hasn’t won a state title since 2018 and missed the state championship game last season for the first time since 2010. Prep, on the verge of losing its fourth MAIS game in a season since 2004, played outstanding last week and defeated Jackson Academy 10-6 behind senior linebacker William Daes’ 17 tackles, limiting the Raiders to 10 first downs and 156 total yards. Senior wide receiver Luke Williams caught the game-winning, 18-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Paxton Thompson with 4 minutes, 4 seconds to play. It was first-year coach Tyler Turner’s biggest win this season.
It will take another emotional, solid performance by Prep to defeat Hartfield, which has cruised over most of its opposition this season except for a 21-17 loss to JA. And it took a trick play – an 87-yard touchdown receiver pass play midway through the fourth quarter – for the Raiders to overcome the Hawks and gain the momentum for that victory.
Prep must slow down Hartfield senior running back Xavier Davis, a 5-foot-11, 185-pounder who has several Division I offers and has gained 839 yards and scored 15 TDs this season.
Prep and Hartfield are tied for second with 2-1 records in the MAIS Class 6A conference behind Madison-Ridgeland Academy. The winner of this game could get a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Hartfield 24, Prep 14.
Madison Central (6-1) at Germantown (4-4)
Except for Madison Central’s only loss – a 35-28 decision at Starkville – first-year coach Toby Collums’ Jaguars have won every Class 6A game by double figures and looked very good in last week’s 35-3 victory over Tupelo. Junior quarterback Vic Sutton completed 14 of 21 passes for 241 yards and three touchdowns and the Jaguars’ defense didn’t allow a TD for the second time in three games.
Germantown is in its third year of Class 6A football and have a 14-15 overall record and 4-12 region record over that time. The Mavericks are the only team in Mississippi with two players – Under Armour senior running back and Georgia commitment Branson Robinson and senior defensive lineman and Ole Miss commit Zxavian Harris – rated in the Top 20 in Mississippi by 247 Sports. Robinson is rated No. 1 and Harris No. 4 in the state. But the Mavs don’t have the overall talent to matchup with the Jaguars.
Madison Central has a 2-0 lead in this series, winning 36-23 in 2019 and 38-6 last season. The Jaguars will make it 3-0.
Madison Central 31, Germantown 14.
In other games:
W Ridgeland (4-3) at Forest Hill (2-6), South Jackson, Thursday
Callaway (3-4) at Holmes County Central (4-4) W
W Canton (3-4) at Jim Hill (1-6)
W Canton Academy (7-2) at Winona Christian (1-7)
W Central Hinds (7-2) at St. Andrew’s (3-4)
W Clinton (3-4) at Grenada (5-3)
Florence (1-6) at Brookhaven (3-5) W
W Jackson Academy (6-3) at Presbyterian Christian (7-2)
W Madison St. Joseph (3-6) at Park Place (3-6)
W Mendenhall (5-3) at Richland (5-3)
Murrah (1-7) at Tupelo (5-3) W
Northwest Rankin (2-5) at Pearl (6-2) W
Pisgah (2-6) at Pelahatchie (3-5) W
Puckett (4-4) at Scott Central (8-0) W
W Raleigh (5-3) at McLaurin (2-6)
Raymond (7-1) at North Pike (6-0) W
W Riverdale, La. (7-2) at Rebul (0-9)
W Simpson Academy (6-3) at East Rankin (3-6)
W South Pike (2-6) at Lanier (1-6) North Jackson
W Sylva-Bay (2-7) at Hillcrest Christian (0-9)
W Tri-County (8-1) at St. Aloysius (2-7)
W Warren Central (4-3) at Terry (1-7)
Wingfield (1-6) at McComb (2-5) W