How many thought back in August that we’d actually get through the prep football season without having to close it down because of COVID?

I can truthfully say I had serious doubts myself.

But here we are at the end of the high school football regular season and, other than a few forfeits due to the virus and around 20 teams statewide opting out, the playoffs are almost upon us.

Any time I speak of anything to do with sports in the near future it comes with an asterisk. Please remember that the virus is still out there with numbers rising again.

With that as the basis, join me now as I offer my final regular season edition of Friday Night Previews and Picks for the 2020 campaign, beginning with the Daily Corinthian Game of the Week.

North Pontotoc (5-3, 1-2) @ Corinth (6-2, 3-0)

The Warriors will be playing for momentum heading into the playoffs, having already secured the Division 1-4A championship with last week’s 35-20 win at Ripley.

The Vikings cannot play spoiler because of that so they will be playing for pride and momentum heading into next weeks MHSAA playoffs where they will be the No. 4 seed.

Corinth fans know exactly what their team can do and is capable of – scoring early and often.

Senior Cayden Betts already owns the school record for career kickoff returns for a touchdown and it wouldn’t be surprising if he adds to that total at Warrior Stadium II against North Pontotoc. Then again it wouldn’t surprise me if his teammates such as Naz Jones or Q Wimsatt follow suit. In fact, Wimsatt had one against Ripley, although he was an up-man.

The Vikings are pretty well-balanced offensively with sophomore quarterback Reece Kentner leading the way with a lively arm. His leading receiver is diminutive 5-8, 146-pound senior Kaden Wilson. Senior Raquan Booth, a 5-8, 164-pounder is the main running threat out of the backfield.

If drives stall inside the red zone, North Pontotoc has a viable kicker in senior Frank Stark.

Defensively, the Vikings have surrendered at least 35 points their past five games. That does not include last week’s forfeit win over Aberdeen.

As a Halloween treat, the teams will deck out in all black (Corinth) and all orange (North Pontotoc) for a Halloween Football Bash.

The Warriors won this game last year 41-7 in Ecru before beginning their state championship run.

Kent’s pick: Corinth

Mantachie (3-4, 2-1) @ Walnut (6-2, 2-1)

This is one of two contests on the schedule this week that will decide the number two and three seeds in their respective regions as well as who travels for the first round of the MHSAA playoffs and who gets to stay home.

Head coach John Meeks is blessed with plenty of offensive talent, led by all-state senior athlete TJ Colom II. The unit has averaged 44 points per game and has surpassed 50 points or more five times while the Wildcats defense allows 24 ppg, which includes the 56 they surrendered to East Union.

Mantachie will counter with a capable offense that has scored at a 23 ppg clip in 2020. It’s the defense that’s concerning as the Mustangs surrender an average of 31 ppg.

Expect this to be a 42-21 type of game with the home team securing the number two seed from Division 1-2A and a home game in the first round of the MHSAA playoffs next Friday.

Walnut won this game 38-14 at Mantachie last year.

Kent’s pick: Walnut

Booneville (5-2, 3-1) @ Nettleton (6-1, 3-1)

This is no easy game for Booneville, as it was last year when BHS crushed Nettleton 49-6 at home, and anyone with that mindset just might find out different as the Blue Devils travel to face the Tigers with the No. 2 seed from Division 1-3A on the line.

Nettleton is a dangerous team offensively with a fine balance between the run and pass games. And their defense is stout as well as evidenced by the 14 they gave up to Amory just two weeks ago. One side note about that game is the Panthers allowed zero points in a 14-0 win.

My head tells me that Nettleton is just good enough to pull out the home win but my heart says pick Booneville.

Kent’s pick: Booneville (in a close one)

Tishomingo County (2-6) @ Potts Camp (2-5)

The Braves should be able to handle the 2A Cardinals and end their season on a winning note.

Although that might not be enough to appease TC-Nation ending with a win rather than a loss is always the best way to go.

The Braves hung 35 on North Pontotoc two weeks ago in a near-miss loss and should surpass that mark Friday at PCHS.

This is the first meeting between these two schools on the gridiron.

Kent’s pick: Tishomingo County

McNairy Central ( 4-6, 1-5) @ Covington (6-4, 2-2)

The Bobcats season comes to an end Friday as they travel to face a Chargers team ranked No. 43 in Tennessee despite three straight losses. That streak includes a 14-7 loss at Milan, a game that eneded in a scoreless tie in regulation.

That should tell McNairy fans all they need to know. An inspired performance by the ‘Cats, even in a loss, would be a positive way to end an otherwise disappointing season.

The Chargers won this contest 37-27 in Selmer last fall before making a deep run in the TSSAA playoffs.

Kent’s pick: Covington

Ashland (3-5, 3-2) @ Thrasher (3-3, 3-2)

The Blue Devils arrive in Thrasher with a better-than-average defense despite being blanked twice in 2020. They hung 24 on 2A Strayhorn and defeated a good Myrtle club 38-36 last week.

They have speed and that was the Rebels undoing during their homecoming loss to a speedy Coldwater team last week.

I believe coach Jason Allen will have his Thrasher team pumped for their home finale with a playoff berth hanging in the balance. But will that be enough?

Ashland won this game 18-6 at home last October.

Kent’s pick: Ashland.

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