For most teams, this is round two of playoff action. 6A, 5A and 1A are just getting things started with MAIS 3A teams playing for a state championship this week. This mean the season only heats up from here. Here's the view from the northern part of the state.
Top four games of the week: Lafayette at Noxubee: This is going to be fun. 4A is just heating up in these second round matchups and this will be one of the top games in the state this week. The back-to-back champs faltered a bit this year after consecutive undefeated seasons and finished second in their district behind New Albany at 10-2. This week will be the toughest opponent they've faced all year long as Darrell Robinson and the Tigers come calling. A state championship is on the mind of Noxubee and I'm not sure anyone will be able to take them down. The winner should have Itawamba next week. Noxubee
Columbus at Madison Central : The Falcons have faced some stiff competition this season just falling short in a few but picking up big wins along the way. Last week they clinched their first playoff birth in quite sometime and are ready for the challenge against the Jags. This is a battle of the stiff defense of Columbus and the strong rushing attack of Madison Central. In the end, I think MC is able to run the football well and take the win. Madison Central
Jackson Academy vs. Jackson Prep: Well these two meet again in Clinton. For the 12th time in MAIS history, they will fight for the title. While Prep has been regarded as the powerhouse in regular season play, JA has won three straight. A win tomorrow would make them only the third team in MAIS history to win four-consecutive trophies (a feat my Winston Patriots did from 97'-2000 mind you). Prep was able to sneak out a win less than a month ago in overtime. I expect a battle till the end. JA
Louisville at New Albany: This is a game I will be calling Friday night for 107.1 in Louisville. I was able to call the Wildcats first round game last week and came away impress with the offense. The defense, however, lacked intensity at times but seemed to show up when it mattered. They're going to need to clamp down on the New Albany rushing attack this week and make the plays offensively if they want to survive another week. I think the Wildcats are ready for the challenge. Louisville
South Mississippi's Games of the Week:
In the south the 6A playoffs should provide fireworks for the next three weeks.
Biloxi at Petal: Two of the best offenses in the state collide in this rematch of a second round game won by Petal last year. Injuries may play an important role in this game as the Indians are starting to return to full strength. Biloxi was a surprising No. 4 seed, and if Petal is not 100% look for Biloxi to spring the upset.
Ocean Springs at Brandon: This is another playoff rematch from last year. In that game, the Bulldogs used their size and speed to slow down a fast, but outsized, Ocean Springs team. This year, the game is at Louis Gene Strickland Field, but the result should be a Brandon victory.
Hattiesburg at Gulfport: The Admirals had a slow start against tough competition, but it paid off as they went undefeated on their way to 6A Region 4 crown. Hattiesburg played tough competition all year long, so this should be a tight game won by Gulfport.
Pascagoula at West Jones: Soso can be a difficult place to play, and that is where Pascagoula has to go. The Panthers won their first round game against Pearl on the road last year, and the Panthers have been tough to beat when they are playing well. Look for Pascagoula to pick up the win.
Players of the Week : Defensively- Ashton Shumpert IAHS: In the powerful 4A ranks, there are several teams that will be vying for the golden football in Jackson in a few weeks. Right in that conversation is Itawamba led by stud running back Shumpert. But Shumpert might be even better on the defensive side of the ball. Last week in their shutout win over Kosciusko, Shumpert recorded nine tackles with an interception. He's widely regarded as one of the top three prospects in the state of Mississippi. His versatility is going to make him quite the player on the next level.
Offensively- Malik Dear Calloway: How good is this kid going to be? Only a sophomore, Dear has been raising eyebrows all year long and he didn't stop Friday night in their win over Northwest Rankin. Dear carried the ball 21 times for 309 yards hitting pay dirt five times while also passing for 64 yards on 8 of 11. Should be a fun player to watch over the next couple of years and definitely a prospect everyone will want.