Two of the top 10 teams in the AP Mississippi Prep Football Top 10 will open district play in Starkville tonight when second-ranked Madison Central visits the eighth-ranked Yellow Jackets.
While Starkville (4-0) is coming off of a 28-23 win over No. 10 Louisville, the Jaguars (3-0) were off last week following their 38-7 rout of Northwest Rankin on Sept. 10. Senior Robert Dumas Jr., a 5-foot-8, 130-pounder, carried 13 times for 154 yards and 4 touchdowns, including a 58-yarder, and leads Madison Central with 342 yards rushing and 7 TDs this season. Against Northwest Rankin, the Jaguars rolled up 349 yards rushing, averaging a hair less than 8 yards per carry.
Although they don’t throw much, senior Blake Gunter was named one of the state’s 15 best wide receivers by Scorebooklive.com. He is averaging 19.2 yards per catch but is catching just two passes per game. Quarterback Vic Sutton has completed 22 of 39 passes for 263 yards with 3 TDs and no interceptions.
“They’re a good, well-coached team, and we are expecting a great game with a playoff atmosphere,” Starkville coach Chris Jones said.
Game time is 7 p.m.
Louisville (3-1) at Noxubee County (2-1): Not a district game, but another powerhouse matchup as the No. 10 Wildcats, coming off their first loss of the season, head to Macon to face a Tigers team that shut down Shannon during a 20-8 win last week. The Red Raiders completed just 1 of 20 passes and averaged only 3.9 yards per carry, while the Tigers got 160 yards rushing from sophomore Martavius Wicks and two Vernorrius Chaney-to-Anthony Little touchdown passes.
Meanwhile, Louisville led Starkville going into the fourth quarter last week before the Yellow Jackets pulled ahead to hand the Wildcats their first loss.
“They are a very talented group,” Noxubee County coach Teddy Young said. “They are balanced on offense and play fast and hard on defense.”
Lafayette (3-1) at West Point (1-2): Another powerhouse matchup, and this one is a district game as the Commodores and Green Wave start Class 5A-1 play. Nobody is as rested as West Point, which missed the first two games because of COVID-19 protocols and then had last week off after a solid win at Noxubee County.
Meanwhile, Lafayette, which brought back nine returning defensive starters, has allowed one offensive score in three of its games; only Oxford, receiving votes in the Top 10, had any real offensive success against the Commodores. Junior Jayden Reed has been leading the way on offense, racking up 513 yards and 6 touchdowns, while sophomore Charlie Fair has been the more effective of the team’s two quarterbacks, throwing for 309 yards and two scores in three games without an interception. But junior William Dabney has the legs, rushing for 197 yards.
“This will be a very physical game,” West Point coach Chris Chambless said.
Bayou Academy (4-1) at Heritage Academy (6-0): Look at the records, and this is a good matchup. Peel back a layer or two, and the Colts don’t look quite so formidable. They have defeated teams with a combined four wins, and undefeated Hartfield Academy blitzed them 47-0 a week ago. Bayou managed just 141 yards of total offense
But the Colts are still capable of causing problems, starting with their senior quarterbacks. Joseph Smith has rushed for 454 yards and passed for 343, while Larson Ingram has 173 passing yards and 137 rushing yards.
“They’re an athletic team that executes well,” Heritage coach Sean Harrison said. “The offense does a good job of utilizing speed, and both quarterbacks are good runners. Defensively, they do a good job in pass coverage.”
Caledonia (3-1) at Aberdeen (2-2): The Bulldogs are coming off of a win in a game in which they surrendered 268 yards passing, so just moving the ball might not be enough for the Cavaliers. Their other win was 6-0 in overtime against Calhoun City, a game that saw them allow just 2.9 yards per carry and two completions in 20 pass attempts for minus-3 yards. So they can play defense, something Caledonia coach Michael Kelly has noticed.
“Defensively they attack the football and force a lot of negative plays,” Kelly said. “They’re an extremely athletic football team with a lot of team speed.”
The Cavaliers can score points (125 in three games on the field), and that ability will be tested.
“We need to execute at a high level and stay ahead of the chains,” Kelly said.
Winston Academy (4-1) at Starkville Academy (2-3): The Patriots have won four consecutive games, surrendering fewer points each week. Most recently, they took care of Winona Christian 34-7 as sophomore Omar Scott carried 10 times for 183 yards. Senior quarterback Brylee Wall completed only two passes in the game, but for the season he is 40 of 74 for 706 yards and 7 TDs. Scott has four 100-yard rushing games and has totaled 757 yards and 6 TDs.
Meanwhile, the Volunteers are looking to rebound from a 30-0 loss to rival Heritage Academy.
“We’re excited to play a team like Winston,” Vols coach Chase Nicholson said. “We look forward to Friday night.”
Sebastopol (2-2) at West Lowndes (2-2): The Panthers are coming off of a 58-0 demolition of Noxapater, a performance coach Anthony King attributes to strong play on the lines. Their 320-yard, six-touchdown rushing performance was paced by junior Jaquavious Tate’s 10 carries for 144 yards. The Bobcats, also alternating wins and losses so far this season, lost last week in decisive fashion, 42-14 to Clarksdale. Juniors David Williams (318 yards) and Makarious Michaels (305 yards) lead a ground game that has accounted for more than 1,000 yards through four games.
“They’re a well coached, solid football team,” King said. “We have to play a good game for us to beat them. We’ve had a tough week of practice, so we should be prepared.”
Kirk Academy (4-1) at Oak Hill Academy (2-3): The Raiders have won two of their past three games, but Kirk Academy has won four consecutive games, allowing 15 points during the winning streak. Kirk has shut out North Delta (7-0) and Tennessee’s Rossville Christian (48-0)
Oak Hill coach Bill Rosenthal said it is no secret why Kirk is 4-1; they are a very well-balanced squad.
“They have a good running back that is very fast,” Rosenthal said. “Their quarterback throws the ball well. They’re aggressive on defense, and they also cover well. And they are solid in the kicking game.”
DeSoto (Ark.) (4-1) at Columbus Christian (2-3): Playing 1A DeSoto might seem like a nice break for the Rams, who are 2-0 outside of their district and 0-3 in it. The Thunderbirds have scored 202 points, which immediately gives one a notion about what the Rams, who have totaled 116, are up against this week.
“We’ve certainly got our work cut out this week,” Rams coach Rusty Mason said. “We will face a team that looks very complete in all three phases on film. Certainly, they’ve had a lot of success in the last few years, and they will force us to play a complete game.”
New Life Christian (Ala.) at Victory Christian: New Life has had a rough go of it this season, losing to Cornerstone Christian of Rainsville, Alabama, 40-0 and Tuscaloosa Christian 70-16. But Victory Christian was blanked by three-time defending league champion Russell Christian of Meridian 56-0 and fell 68-22 to Tabernacle Christian of Gardendale, Alabama, in a game they actually led 16-14 early.
“New Life is struggling this year, like us,” VCA coach Chris Hamm said. “It should be a good matchup. We have worked on defensive assignments and communication this week.”
Hamm said his players seem to be picking up what he’s trying to do in practice.
“We’ll find out Friday night,” he said.