Area coaches and players have put in another hard week of practice while fans have eagerly anticipated another Friday night under the lights.
It’s time for another edition of Friday Night Previews and Picks with six games on the menu this week. McNairy Central is the lone local team not playing this Friday. The Bobcats won a 2-0 forfeit against Bolivar Central due to the Tigers being in quarantine.
Two contests pit local squads against each other with this week being division openers for everyone except Walnut.
Join me as I preview each tilt along with my picks to win. Speaking of picks, this sports editor went 4-2 last week leaving me with a 24-6 overall record for the first four weeks.
Booneville (2-1) @ Alcorn Central (2-2)
It’s homecoming for the Golden Bears as they host a Blue Devil squad coming off a bye week.
Central had their two-game winning streak snapped in a 41-7 road loss at Tishomingo County last Friday while Booneville slipped by Saltillo 12-8 two weeks ago.
This game will feature a complete contrast in offensive styles as AC works out of a run-heavy wing-T, triple option scheme while BHS runs more of a balanced attack, averaging 161 passing yards and 118 on the ground.
Central may be down to their third quarterback in Talon Kemp as season starter Charlie Staley is out with a lower leg injury while backup Jacob Leatherwood is nursing a leg injury suffered last week at Tish County.
Booneville is dealing with injuries of their own, specifically junior athlete LJ Shumpert who has seen very little playing time so far. He was a Daily Corinthian 1st team All-Area selection last year at receiver. He will start against AC along with leading rusher Kaleb Guy.
“We’ll use them all over the place,” said BHS head coach Mike Mattox.
Blue Devils quarterback John Daniel Deaton, the reigning DC 1st team signal caller, is completing 75 percent of his passes (33-44) for 484 yards but has thrown only two touchdowns in four games compared to three interceptions.
In a show of honor and respect, Booneville will select one defensive player each week for the remainder of the season to wear the late Logan Harr’s no. 8 jersey. This week that will be sophomore DB Joey Wheelington.
Central will need to sustain some drives ending with touchdowns if they hope to stay close. Running backs Blake Doran and Jaden Adams will be AC’s best chance to do just that.
Booneville has owned this series, winning the last 14, and have won the previous two meetings 47-0 (2019) and 46-0 (2018). The 2017 contest was a 62-36 shootout in Glen although I don’t foresee that kind of game Friday.
Kent’s pick: Booneville
Corinth (2-2) @ Tishomingo County (2-2)
It’s been 13 years since the Braves last defeated the Warriors in a series Corinth has controlled.
Tishomingo County won 14-6 that season at Warrior Stadium II. TC lost a hard-fought 17-14 decision in 2010 but since then CHS has dominated, scoring 50 or more points six times in the past eight games.
The Braves are not the same team the Tribe blew out 56-7 last October on their way to their first state championship and neither are the Warriors. Corinth is still the team to beat in Division 1-4A but Tish County is playing with more purpose and passion this season under head coach Richard Russo.
Corinth will have to deal with TC’s balanced attack as running back Gavin Crocker scored five touchdowns against Alcorn Central last Friday following a pair of superb passing performances by QB Blake Counce. And the Braves defense, led by DC Player of the Week Tyriek Duckett, is a much-improved unit under the direction of new defensive coordinator, and former Ripley head coach, Sam Hathorn.
The Warriors pass defense has been exploited the past two weeks so head coach Todd Lowery and his staff have been working hard to help the CHS secondary improve in that area.
Tishomingo County will need to get off to a fast start and “force a few three-and-out’s” according to Russo to give themselves a chance against a still explosive Corinth offense.
Kent’s pick: Corinth
Amory (3-1) @ Kossuth (1-3)
The Aggies simply need for something positive to happen early against a potent Panthers squad that looks more than capable of winning the Division 1-3A title after falling just short last season.
Senior QB Brock Seago will seek to bounce back after a 4-10 passing effort last week against Senatobia while running back Zamarius Alexander will want to follow his 173-yard, three touchdown performance against the Warriors last Friday with a similar performance this Friday.
Amory has used a well balanced offensive attack and a stingy defense to put themselves in position to make a serious run at not only the division title but also in the MHSAA playoffs.
Kent’s pick: Amory
Ashland (1-0) @ Biggersville (4-0)
Due to the COVID pandemic the Blue Devils, like Smithville, had a late start to their season and are coming off a 30-0 blanking of Byers last week in their first contest.
The No. 3 (1A) Lions, at least on paper, should handle Ashland with ease on homecoming night as they continue their march toward their second straight Division 1-1A championship and a deep run in the MHSAA playoffs.
Expect the potent Biggersville offense to continue their dominance while the defense should pitch another shutout or at least keep the Devils under seven points.
Kent’s pick: Biggersville
JZ George (2-1) @ Walnut (3-1)
Prior to last season’s 28-25 Wildcat win the last time these two squads played was in the 2007 MHSAA playoffs, an 18-13 Jaguar victory.
J.Z. George opened the season with a 41-20 loss to an unbeaten (4-0) Winona team and has followed that with one-sided wins over Central Holmes Christian and last Friday against Leake County.
The Jags allowed 253 rushing yards to Winona so Walnut will seek to run the ball with playmakers TJ Colom II and TJ Luellen. The ‘Cats suffered a disappointing 38-7 road loss at South Pontotoc a week ago and will be out to bounce back in a big way on homecoming night at WHS.
It could be another close one.
Kent’s pick: Walnut
Byers (1-2) @ Thrasher (1-1)
The Rebels win came via forfeit last week against Baldwyn while Byers defeated Rossville Christian 28-14 in their season opener. Since then they have lost to Potts Camp and Coldwater.
This will be Thrasher’s first home game of the season which is sure to bring plenty of excitement and anticipation from THS players and fans alike.
Kent’s pick: Thrasher