It didn’t seem right not having Friday Night Previews and Picks last week due to Hurricane Delta forcing all local games back a night to Thursday.
But it’s back to business as usual this week as I preview each area prep contest and make my picks to win.
Just for fun, I picked my winner’s for last week ahead of time. As it turned out I would’ve gone 6-1 with the only setback being the Walnut at East Union game where I picked the Wildcats to win. Corinth won their game versus Noxubee County by forfeit so I’m including that as well.
Join me now as I take a look at each game on the menu this week along with my picks to win starting with the Daily Corinthian Game of the Week.
New Albany (3-2) @ Corinth (4-2)This Division 1-4A contest has all the earmarks of a shootout.
The defending division, north half and state champion Warriors rolled over the Bulldogs 56-20 in 2019. However, the 2018 game at Warrior Stadium II had a different tone as New Albany held a 24-21 halftime lead before Corinth broke it open for 55 second half points to win going away, 76-36.
“This is by far the best New Albany team I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” said CHS fifth-year head coach Todd Lowery. “They are a big, physical team that can play. Their coaches scheme well and their players have fully bought in and are playing very well. Coach (Cody) Stubblefield and his staff have done a great job. And adding (former Tupelo head coach) Trent Hammond on the defensive side just gives them that much more knowledge and experience at a high level. For us it’s all about preparedness. We can practice great during the week and come up with the best schemes, but if those 11 players on the field don’t execute and do their part, we could be in trouble. This team (Warriors) is beginning to discover their identity coming off last years state title. We will have to block well and protect our quarterback better. On defense we have some things we’re working on, many of them small things that can make a difference.”
The 2020 Bulldogs boast one of the top backfields in north Mississippi in 5-8, 210-pound senior C.J. Hill and 6-0, 200-pound senior A.I. Nugent, an all-state transfer from Myrtle. The duo has combined for 844 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns so far this season with Hill leading the way with 507 yards and eight TDs. First-year QB starter Joe Mathis, a junior, has completed 66 percent of his passes for 801 yards and 12 touchdowns against just one interception.
New Albany is averaging 374 yards per game with 214 coming via the rushing attack. The ‘Dogs defense is led by a pair of sturdy and effective linebackers, including Nugent.
The Warriors will counter with a potent ground game of their own with the combination of seniors Cayden Betts and Nazarius Jones leading the way.
The tale of the tape offensively has Corinth averaging 41 points per game, while the ’Dogs average 37.
Both defenses will have their hands full chasing down opposing ball carriers and receivers. I can foresee both teams eclipsing 30 points.
Kent’s pick: Corinth
Booneville (4-1) @ Kossuth (1-5)
The Aggies shocked the Blue Devils last year in Booneville, pulling out a last-second 44-43 win on a Brock Seago touchdown plunge followed by a 2-point conversion run by Kota Wilhite.
Don’t think for a moment the Devils have forgotten that photo-finish loss, although they went on to defeat Amory and Nettleton the final two weeks of the season to capture their second straight Division 1-3A championship. They want to leave no doubt this fall.
Seago lit up the Blue Devils secondary for 280 yards and two TDs in 2019 while Wilhite led a Kossuth ground game that piled up 289 yards and four touchdowns with 214 of those yards and two scores.
Booneville senior quarterback John Daniel Deaton, along with tailback Caleb Guy and a bevy of capable receivers will need to be on top of their game and the lines will need to continue their effective play in order for BHS to keep their division record spotless, while Blue Devils linebacker JD Nanney and his defensive mates do their best to slow down Kossuth’s offense.
Kent’s pick: Booneville
Biggersville (6-0) @ Coldwater (1-2)
On paper the No. 3 (1A) Lions should win this one in a cakewalk. And they likely will. However, Biggersville head coach Stan Platt has been preaching to his team this week the importance of staying focused with their eyes on the prize and not overlook the Cougars.
Biggersville is 6-0 overall and 3-0 inside Division 1-1A with their eyes on a second consecutive league crown and a deep playoff run, which will hopefully lead to what would be their first state championship game appearance in December.
Kent’s pick: Biggersville
Alcorn Central (2-4) @ Belmont (0-5)
The Cardinals may be winless, but they have played a much tougher schedule overall than the Golden Bears.
Belmont won 33-15 over AC last year at home but Central head coach Matt Meeks has a strong belief that his defense will rise to the occasion this week while his offense tries to rebound from consecutive blowout losses scoring a combined 14 points.
“We have to overcome some key injuries, including (running back) Blake Doran who went out last week at Amory with a broken collarbone,” said Meeks. “We need to simplify things and just play our game and execute and I believe we can win this game.”
Kent’s pick: Alcorn Central
North Pontotoc (3-3) @ Tishomingo Co. (2-4)
Braves head coach Richard Russo served notice last week, following his team’s road loss at Ripley, that this is a winnable game for TC and one that could reserve Tishomingo County’s first playoff berth since 2008 when they lost in the first round at Pearl.
“This game is absolutely huge for our team, our school, administration and entire community,” Russo specified. “To make the playoffs in our first year would be incredible and it would also be a tremendous building block for the future of our program.”
The Braves have been on the cusp of winning in every loss this season with the exception of the Corinth game. Will this be the week they take the next step and win a division game at home?
Kent’s pick: Tishomingo County
Potts Camp (2-4) @ Walnut (4-2)
Despite another outstanding offensive performance, led by 280 total yards and three touchdowns by TJ Colom II, the Wildcats ran into a buzzsaw at East Union where they lost 56-30 as Urchins all-state running back Colton Plunk went for 294 yards and four TDs.
The Cardinals will be the whipping boys for Walnut this week as head coach John Meeks makes sure his team comes out refocused and reenergized as they now seek to wrap up a second-place finish in Division 1-2A that would include a first round home playoff game.
Kent’s pick: Walnut
Falkner (0-6) @ Thrasher (2-2)Coach Jason Allen has his Rebels primed for a return to the 1A playoffs if they can finish the season strong, beginning with a home contest against winless Falkner this week.
With proper execution and no more injuries to key players on a thin roster, Thrasher will be over .500 for the first time in several years.
Kent’s pick: Thrasher
Milan (5-1) @ McNairy Central (4-4)At first glance it appears that the Bulldogs will come to Selmer and leave with a blowout district win over the Bobcats. And that may very well happen.
But don’t discount head coach Brian Franks’ team as they have shifted into another gear offensively over the past four games. Sophomore quarterback Jack Johnson set an MC single-game record last Friday with 405 passing yards in a road win at Collinwood while senior wide receiver Jasper Sanders also set a single-game school record with 218 receiving yards. The duo also tied school records – Johnson with five TD passes and Sanders with three TD receptions.
Milan and McNairy Central have faced three common opponents in Peabody and South Gibson. The Bulldogs lost to Peabody 34-13 while the ‘Cats fell 37-6. Milan defeated South Gibson 35-14 while McNairy lost 49-20 to the Hornets.
If the Bobcats offense continues to purr and the defense can produce a few turnovers, don’t be surprised if MC is in this thing at the end with a chance to win.
Kent’s pick: Milan