October 17, 2017 10:17:15 PM
With our first official burst of fall weather ongoing, that means the prep football season is beginning to wind down.
Regular-season play ends this week for two of the five classes in the Mississippi Association of Independent Schools (MAIS). In the Mississippi High School Activities Association (MHSAA), four of six classes will officially bring the season to a close next Friday.
That means the playoff races are coming into clear focus around the state.
Here is a quick overview:
MHSAA Class 6A, Region 1: Well we all thought Tupelo at Horn Lake on Oct. 27 would decide everything. However, Horn Lake saw its undefeated run to start the season end with a 21-0 home loss to Oxford Friday night.
Tupelo remains easily the best team in the region. The race will be tighter than first thought for second place. Both Horn Lake and Southaven are 3-1 in region play. They play one another Nov. 3 in Southaven.
South Panola and Oxford are tied for the final spot, each at 2-2. Advantage: South Panola. It has already played Tupelo, while Oxford will Nov. 3 at Tupelo.
Hernando and Columbus remain alive each at 1-3. One team will get a win when the two meet each other Nov. 3 in Hernando. Columbus must win out to make the playoffs. It could pass Oxford with such a finish. Columbus plays host to Oxford Friday night.
Class 6A, Region 2: Starkville took the lead in this region with a 14-6 home win over Madison Central Friday night.
Starkville is 4-0, while Northwest Rankin and Madison Central are each at 3-1. Starkville has already beaten both. Those two play Oct. 27 at Northwest Rankin.
Starkville can clinch the top spot in the region with two more wins or one win and losses by both Warren Central and Clinton.
The Warren Central-Clinton contest could decide fourth place. Each is 2-2 in the region. That game is Friday at Clinton.
Starkville will roll past Murrah this weekend and then finish with the Warren Central and Clinton duo. If either team there would like to boost their resume, an upset of the Yellow Jackets would do just that.
Class 5A, Region 1: West Point is essentially taking knees in this region.
West Point has won 21 straight games overall and holds a 4-0 record in the region. The Green Wave could virtually lock up first place by beating Grenada Friday night at home.
Olive Branch and Grenada each had 3-1 records in the region. Olive Branch owns the tie-breaker with a 28-14 victory in the head-to-head matchup.
Lake Cormorant and Lafayette are each 2-2 in the region, while Lewisburg and Center Hill each remain alive at 1-3.
Lake Cormorant plays at Lafayette on Nov. 3.
The bad news for Grenada and Lewisburg is both have their matchups with West Point still ahead.
Class 4A, Region 2: First place in this region will be on the line Friday night when Pontotoc plays at Itawamaba AHS. Each is 3-0 in the region.
The other two playoff spots will probably belong to Shannon (2-1) and Mooreville (1-2). Caledonia and Amory are both winless in the league and play one another Friday in Amory, so the winner there will be alive entering the final week.
Shannon plays host to Mooreville in a critical battle to help determine third place. The Red Raiders end the year at Pontotoc, so don't rule out that three-way tie just yet.
Class 4A, Region 4: The Noxubee County region appears headed in Noxubee County's favor again this season.
Noxubee County is 2-0 in region play and can wrap up the top spot in the league with a home win over Leake Central. The final Noxubee County game is at New Hope.
Kosciusko is 2-1, Louisville is 1-1 and New Hope is 1-2. Kosciusko and New Hope both know they have playoff berths.
Louisville ends the season by hosting Kosciusko and traveling to Leake Central. One more win will put them in as well.
Class 1A, Region 3: A good bottle of aspirin is needed before sorting this region out.
Nanih Waiya is 6-0 in region play, with Ethel and Noxapater remaining on the schedule.
Noxapater and French Camp each check in with 4-1 region records. French Camp owns the tie-breaker with a 21-20 victory here.
Vardaman and Hamilton each have 3-2 records. Both of them are tied for the final playoff spot as of now and each has three region games remaining. Leake County has a pulse at 3-3.
Sebastopol stands 1-4 but could make things interesting with a late-season run.
MAIS Class AAA, District 2: While Starkville Academy took the upper hand in this district with a 17-14 win over Heritage Academy, there is still lots to be decided.
Starkville Academy is 3-0 in the district, while both Heritage Academy and Leake Academy each stand at 2-1. We need not forget Starkville Academy beat Leake Academy in double overtime last season.
Those teams meet again Friday in the regular-season finale at J.E. Logan Field.
Hopefully, the Volunteers are more efficient this time around the district winds up 1-2 for Starkville and Heritage.
Both will be locks for the playoffs.
MAIS Class AA, District 1: Oak Hill Academy plays at Marshall Academy Friday night for the district championship.
Marshall is 3-0 in the district, while Oak Hill is 2-1. Oak Hill dropped a 16-7 decision to Central Holmes Christian but could make up for that with an upset win on the road.
Both teams should make the playoffs with the power points are released this weekend.
MAIS Class A, District 2: Columbus Christian and Deer Creek School will put unbeaten district records on the line Friday night at Arcola.
Both Strider Academy and Delta Streets Academy are winless on the season, so Friday's loser should still be able to regroup and finish second in the district.
Scott Walters is a sports writer for The Dispatch. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @dispatchscott.
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter
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