With the regular season in the home stretch, high school football teams are beginning to see where they will end up when post-season begins in a few weeks.
For divisions 2A through 5A, the regular season concludes next Friday, Oct. 30 while 1A and 6A will play their regular season finales on Nov. 6.
Until then there are still games to play that will determine division winners, whose finished after next week, and who ends up playing who when the playoffs begin in a couple of weeks.
I was 6-2 with my picks last week missing only on the Tishomingo County/North Pontotoc and Alcorn Central/Belmont contests. My season record, not counting two weeks ago when games were moved to Thursday, is 36-10. I’m curious to find out how our readers are doing on their high school picks. For those keeping track, send me a email at email@example.com. I’ll make mention of the best records next week.
Now let’s take a look at this week’s lineup of games, starting with the Daily Corinthian Game of the Week.
Amory (6-1, 3-0) @ Booneville (5-1, 3-0)
The Panthers and Blue Devils both enter this key Division 1-3A showdown unbeaten in league play so the winner will likely go on to win the division title.
But not so fast, said BHS head coach Mike Mattox.
“We’re nowhere close to done yet,” said the 10th-year Blue Devils coach. “Amory is a scary team, very balanced, with plenty of size and lots of speed. And they will be looking to pay us back for last year when we went to their place and won.
“And don’t forget we still have to go to Nettleton next week. Like I said, we have a lot of work still left to do.”
Amory has shown incredible balance between the run and passing games.
“As far as touchdowns scored, they probably have more throwing the ball, but as far as their total yards I believe they are about 50/50 on run and pass,” said Mattox.
The Panthers are led by fourth year starting quarterback, senior Hunter Jones and he has plenty of weapons to throw to, including seniors 6-3, 200 pound Jay Hampton and 5-8, 170-pound Braxton Griffith. Charleston French, son of former Ole Miss tight end Rufus French, is a productive sophomore running back who topped 1,000 yards a year ago. The 5-8, 180-pounder reminds Mattox of Kossuth’s Zamarius Alexander.
“He’s (French) a physical downhill runner with speed who reminds me of Alexander,” he added.
On paper, this one will be as close as they come and I always give the nod to the home team on toss up games.
The Blue Devils won 28-16 at Amory one year ago.
Kent’s pick: Booneville
Corinth (5-2, 2-0) @ Ripley (3-4, 2-0)
The No. 3 (4A) Warriors control their destiny the final two weeks of the regular season and they can make the possibility of their second consecutive Division 1-4A championship more of a possibility if they can manage to escape Ripley with a ‘W’ Friday.
In recent years, that’s been easier said than done.
The Tigers will be coming off a 20-6 non-division loss to Choctaw County while Corinth held off a worthy New Albany squad at home last week. Ripley has had more success on defense than offense under first-year head coach Perry Liles, who won numerous division titles along with a 2A state title the past 10 years at Calhoun City.
The Tigers are averaging 18 points per game while also allowing 18 per game defensively. On the other hand, the Warriors are more of a high-octane offensive squad that averages 43 points per game, not counting the season-low 17 they scored against MRA. This one looks to be a battle of wills: Ripley’s defense against Corinth’s offense. In these kinds of games the team’s that win the line of scrimmage battle and don’t turn the ball over usually win.
The Warriors blanked the Tigers 41-0 last year at Warrior Stadium II in a rainstorm.
Kent’s pick: Corinth
Biggersville (7-0, 4-0) @ Falkner (0-7, 0-4)Here’s the best pick of the night to be over after the first quarter as the Lions (No. 2 in 1A) travel to face the Eagles and their first-year head coach Jeff Anglin, who was on coach Stan Platt’s staff last year.
No offense to Falkner but Biggersville should be subbing early and often as the Eagles continue to take their lumps this season hoping to learn from this year’s experience and turn it into wins in 2021.
One issue facing Platt, as it did last year, is his starters and their playing time. Players coming out of games at or before halftime is not usually ideal when it comes to having them ready and in full-game shape when the playoffs begin.
But for now it’s likely running second-half clocks the rest of the season for Biggersville.
The Lions shut out the Eagles 36-0 last year at home.
Kent’s pick: Biggersville
Kossuth (1-6, 0-3) @ Belmont (1-5, 1-2)Newton’s Law has found it’s way to the Aggies football team. Whatever can go wrong has this season for head coach Brian Kelly’s Kossuth squad.
It’s not so much that the Aggies have played poorly because that’s certainly not the case. Kelly and his coaching staff always have their team ready to play and play hard. Looking at their season to date it’s been the little things that have kept KHS from winning more games.
Kossuth is determined now, more than ever in 2020, to end the current losing streak and finish the season strong with a pair of wins heading into the MHSAA playoffs in two weeks. They have Alcorn Central left next Thursday.
The Aggies defeated the Cardinals 46-24 last year on the road.
Kent’s pick: Kossuth
Nettleton (5-1, 2-1) @ Alcorn Central (2-5, 0-3)The Tigers will arrive in Glen Friday fresh off their first loss of the season, 14-0 at Amory. They have already beaten Kossuth and Belmont by a combined 103-51. The Tigers average 34 points per game showing good balance between the pass (147 ypg) and the run (194 ypg) while allowing only 13 points per game defensively with a pair of shutouts.
Nettleton is led offensively by senior quarterback Davis Oswalt who has thrown and ran for over 1,000 yards with a combined 16 touchdowns. Senior running back Roderick Patterson leads NHS with 510 yards and nine TD’s on the ground.
The Golden Bears are not in a good place injury wise and will be hard pressed to match that production, averaging only 16 points per game on offense while surrendering 35 per game.
This will be the home finale for Central. Nettleton won 49-14 last year at home.
Kent’s pick: Nettleton
Coldwater (1-3, 1-2) @ Thrasher (3-3, 3-1)The Rebels need at least one more victory to ensure their first trip to the MHSAA playoffs since 2017 and they can earn that privilege with a homecoming night win over the Cougars.
Both squads have had virus-shortened seasons but the Rebels have had more success in the win column, coming off a 16-0 blanking of Falkner last week. The Cougars, who have played only three actual games on the field in 2020, lost 62-6 at home to Biggersville last Friday.
Both these teams have one common opponent, Byers, with each owning wins over the Lions.
Coldwater won this game 28-20 last year at home.
Kent’s pick: Thrasher
Tishomingo County (2-5, 0-3) @ New Albany (3-3, 1-1)A playoff berth is not completely impossible for the Braves but it certainly became a tougher goal following last weeks 42-35 home loss to North Pontotoc. The Bulldogs will be barking after a tough 58-35 road defeat last Friday at Corinth.
Tishomingo County will need a repeat of last week’s performance offensively if they hope to stay in this one late as New Albany will run, run and run some more with stud backs C.J. Hill and A.I. Nugent, who both went well over 100 yards against the Warriors and scored a combined four touchdowns.
The Braves will need a masterpiece defensive performance with coach Sam Hathorn drawing it up.
The Bulldogs won 34-13 last year in Iuka behind 231 yards and three TD’s from Hill.
Kent’s pick: New Albany
Walnut (5-2, 1-1) @ Strayhorn (1-4, 1-1)Head coach John Meeks watched his Wildcats bounce back nicely from a loss at East Union two weeks ago by pasting Potts Camp 61-26 at home last Friday.
Strayhorn’s win came in a 30-6 home decision three weeks ago over Potts Camp and they have been shut out three times.
Both teams are allowing an average of 24 points per game, with Walnut’s numbers including the 56 they gave up to the Urchins.
Although Walnut won a close 20-17 decision last year in this contest I do not anticipate the Cougars being able to hold back the powerful Wildcat offensive attack led by TJ Colom II.
Kent’s pick: Walnut
Lexington (7-1, 4-0) @ McNairy Central (4-5, 1-3)The Bobcats regular season finale might not be a pretty one to watch as the No. 35 Tigers roll into Selmer fresh off a 27-14 win over Hardin County while McNairy Central was humbled by Milan on homecoming.
Incidentally, Lexington’s only loss came at home against the Bulldogs on Sept. 11. Since then they have been on a roll, averaging 32 points per game offensively while allowing just 14 per game on defense.
The Tigers will seek to slow down ‘Cats sophomore QB Jack Johnson and leading receiver Jasper Sanders as they hope for a second place region finish and a first-round TSSAA home playoff game.
Lexington defeated McNairy 48-13 last year.
Kent’s pick: Lexington