Region play rounds into week three, and many schools will be jockeying for playoff positioning. Not only do teams want to fight their way into the top four in their region, they want to climb into the top two spots in order to host a first round playoff game. I'll get back to my games in a few, but let's hear from our friend, WinstonCountysFinest.
This is an off week for me as my Winston Patriots take their bye, and I'll be hanging out at Ackerman High to see the Indians in action for the first time this year. This week is the toughest of the weeks thus far with very few big time ball games on tap. But several are huge and will help determine division championships. Check out the north's top FOUR games of the week.
Top four games of the week: Jackson Academy at Jackson Prep: The biggest game of the year in Academy ball since, well last year's JA/Prep game. It's the game that usually decides who the superior team is in the MAIS every single year and I don't expect it to change this year. JA has the state's longest winning streak at 27 games but I think that ends tonight. Prep
Columbus at South Panola: The Tigers made a statement last week after an embarrassing first few weeks. They went to the defending state champs, Olive Branch, and really showed they are still South Panola. This is another big game to prove that they still belong at the top of the biggest and toughest classification in the state. South Panola
Olive Branch at DeSoto Central: How will Olive Branch react to their first loss in over a season last week? They need to bounce back fast because DeSoto has been one of the many surprises and could easily jump on the opportunity of an upset. We'll see if Olive Branch is for real or not this week. Olive Branch
Magnolia Heights at MRA: The fighting Cam Lawrences and the fighting Justin Malones get set for battle in Madison County. Ya'll might lynch me for two MAIS games in one big post, but folks there are not some big time matchups as usually are in the north this week. These pair of 6-1 AAA's are quality teams, however. And I expect a great ball game to see who can have the second best record in the class. MRA
While Robbie may be sad about the lack of action in North Mississippi, the fans of high school ball have a great week headed their way. In fact it already started with No. 1 Picayune's dismantling of No. 4 Pascagoula in the CSpire Bright Lights Game at War Memorial Stadium in Pascagoula. Even without stud running back Preston Dedeaux, Maroon Tide coach Dodd Lee proved that he can plug and play behind his talented offensive line. He also showed his team could throw the ball a bit too in their 49-10 victory.
Ocean Springs at Biloxi: With both teams having lost in overtime to d'Iberville earlier this year, the Greyhounds will travel to No. 17 Biloxi to battle the Indians in what may be an elimination game for the second seed in 6A Region 4. Both teams have offenses that can look unstoppable, so in this game, the question will be, which defense can get the most stops. There are not too many games that I feel completely wrongfooted about trying to guess, but I don't get a great feel either way. I'll take the Indians at home, but a Greyhounds win would come as no surprise. Why is this a tough game to pick? Biloxi has two losses, both in overtime. The Greyhounds have three losses, two of which the game was decided on its final play.
East Central at Gautier: This may not be the sexy matchup of the week, but with Picayune, Pascagoula and Pearl River Central looking like playoff locks in 5A Region 4, this looks like a must win game to stay in the hunt for the number four spot in the region with Moss Point. I'm covering this game, so no predictions.
Petal at Brandon: Another tough matchup in maybe the state's toughest region as No. 2 Brandon hosts No. 5 Petal. So far the Bulldogs have successfully ran the gauntlet, and a win here would go a long way to setting up what might be a de facto region title game with Meridian. Petal, however, is no pushover. The Panthers only have one loss this season, and it came in Picayune. That said, Brandon will head to the pay window.
Last week's northern (?!?!) game of the week: Oak Grove at Petal: I realize this is south state, but it would be a disservice not to have this as game of the week in the north or south. What a game. A regional audience on CSpire's Bright Lights Football on Fox Sports, witnessed this thriller that went down to the wire. Oak Grove was dominating the ball game leading 21-7. Petal stuck a field goal in, later got a big touchdown play and a big defensive stop. With over a minute remaining facing fourth and long, Petal through the ball up for grabs and the receiver came down with the ball in the endzone to take the lead. The catch would be the game winner and Petal came from behind to take a 24-21 win. Might have been the game of the year.
Last week's southern game of the week: d'Iberville at Ocean Springs: I told y'all southern Mississippi football was good...look, WCF had to drop down here to find a game of the week. Fortunately, there were several good games, but the Warriors overtime upset of Ocean Springs wins out. The win may give d'Iberville the region crown, and while they may not have the most amazing statistics, they find a way to just keep winning.
Offensive Player of the week (North): Ashton Shumpert, IAHS: Well, I think Ashton is back. The senior transfer from Tupelo had missed the first three games or so with an illness but Itawamba was managing well without him. Now they're even more dangerous. Shumpert only carried the ball seven times, but destroyed the Corinth defense for 236 yards on those carries and three touchdowns. He also was able to put up five tackles defensively in limited action as IAHS rolled to a 48-13 win.
Offensive Player of the Week (South): Lance Barkun, Petal: Barkun kept the Panthers alive down the stretch, and hit a wild touchdown pass for the win. In all, he totaled 239 yards and three touchdowns. An honorable North Mississippi mention goes to Jeramie Lawrence from Falkner. He ran for 436 yards and seven touchdowns.
Defensive Player of the Week (North): Quinn Tiggs, Tupelo: Tiggs was flying all over the place last Friday making plays. He picked off three passes, two of which were touchdowns, to help the fightin' Bradens to a 35-14 win over Grenada. Nice win for them blankets.
Defensive Player of the Week (South): Jonathan Burnett, Terry: Burnett's squad may have lost to Natchez 20-16, but he won most of his battles, notching 17 tackles and two sacks.
Top 25 for week 8 as seen by WCF
1. Brandon (6-0)
2. Picayune (6-0)
3. Noxubee County (7-0)
4. Petal (7-1)
5. Oxford (6-0)
6. South Panola (4-2)
7. Meridian (5-1)
8. Olive Branch (5-1)
9. Oak Grove (5-1)
10. West Point (4-2)
11. Pascagoula (5-1)
12. Lafayette County (6-1)
13. Bassfield (7-0)
14. Jackson Prep (7-0)
15. Hazelhurst (7-0)
16. Biloxi (3-2)
17. Jackson Academy (7-0)
18. Tylertown (5-1)
19. Charleston (6-1)
20. D'Iberville (5-0)
21. Wayne County (4-2)
22. West Jones (5-0)
23. Itawamba AHS (5-0)
24. Natchez (5-1)
25. Pearl River Central (4-1)
justinrsutton's MPB Top 25 ballot
3. Noxubee County
6. South Panola
10. West Point
11. Olive Branch
12. Pearl River Central
16. Wayne County
17. Oak Grove
18. Forrest County AHS
20. Itawamba AHS
21. Ocean Springs
24. Cleveland East Side