Pick ’em at PriorityOne Bank High School

Veteran sportswriter and high school football expert Robert Wilson makes PriorityOne Bank’s predictions column each week during high school football season on teams from Hinds, Madison and Rankin County. Robert was 19-8 (70.4%) last week and 72-20 (78.3%) overall this season.

By Robert Wilson

MRA (3-2) at Jackson Academy (4-0)

Alabama native and former Alabama high school coach Aubrey Blackwell has a perfect record after a month of games as high school head coach in Mississippi. BUT Class 6A JA won all four games, two in overtime, against smaller opponents – three 5A teams, Starkville Academy, Leake Academy and Madison St. Joseph, and one 4A team, Winston Academy.

JA and Blackwell have moved up several notches in competition this week with the three-time defending champion BUT 6A from Madison-Ridgeland Academy in the first conference game of the season.

MRA has dominated JA for the past few years, winning seven in a row and nine of the last 10 encounters. And most of them haven’t been close, winning by scores of 35-7 and 52-14 (2021), 41-14 (2020), 48-7 (2019) and 41-6 (2018) in the last six meetings. . Only a 20-10 MRA victory in 2020 was closer.

MRA looks to be as good as it was last season. Despite losing PriorityOne Bank Metro Player of the Year Jackson Davis Dalton (now playing at Southern Miss) and Under Armor All-American Stone Blanton (now playing at South Carolina) at graduation, the Patriots are the favorites to win their fourth straight 6A state title. .

Junior quarterback and Southern Miss commitment John White — a member of the PriorityOne Bank Metro Jackson Preseason Elite 11 team — has had a solid season so far (1,056 yards and 13 touchdowns and just two interceptions) and the emergence of junior running back Charles Simpson (a total of 469 rushing and receiving yards and eight touchdowns) helped the high-scoring offense. Senior linebacker Bennett Cloud has a team record 61 tackles. Senior defensive lineman Alex Hillhouse has a team record five sacks. Second-year defensive back Matthew Perkins has a team high with two interceptions.

MRA has been successful despite losing two key players to injury, senior tight end Pax Hughes (ankle) and senior linebacker Jeffrey Polk (knee), earlier this season.

JA finally launched their offense last week in their win over St. Joe. Senior quarterback Clayton White threw his first two touchdown passes of the season. Senior Merritt Nations went from wide receiver to running back and drove in for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Junior wide receiver and Terry High transfer Dr. Terry caught a TD pass in his first game at JA. The Raider defense has been solid all season, led by senior linebacker Adam Kennedy and a talented group of defensive backs.

MRA has the big scheduling advantage, with its two losses to defending champions Oakland State of Tennessee and Pulaski Academy of Arkansas, so the Patriots are ready for Game 6A opener.

MRA 35, JA 14.

Ridgeland (3-0) at Provine (2-1), North Jackson Field

Ridgeland’s sophomore sensation and transfer Brandon Garrison Davis and senior Elite 11 member and Ole Miss commitment Ayden Williams have created a dynamic combo that has been hard to slow down this season. Davis — the pro-style quarterback ranked No. 3 in Mississippi and No. 60 in the nation in the Class of 2025 by qbhitlist.com — has completed 63.8% of his passes for 1,022 yards and 11 touchdowns with just two interceptions this season. Davis passed for 536 yards and five touchdowns two weeks ago against Pearl. Davis ranks No. 2 at Mississippi in passing yards according to MaxPreps.

Williams, ranked No. 1 wide receiver in Mississippi and No. 24 in the nation by 247 Sports, caught 21 passes for 481 yards and five touchdowns. He caught seven passes for 255 yards and three touchdowns against Pearl. Williams received offers from eight SEC schools before choosing Ole Miss in August.

Provine is led by senior linebacker and Elite 11 member Tommy Kelly Jr., son of former Provine, Hinds Community College, Mississippi State and 11-year veteran NFL defensive lineman Tommy Kelly Sr., who is now the defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Provinciale. Kelly has 31 tackles this season. He had a team-high 134 tackles in nine games, an average of nearly 15 tackles per game, last season. His 14.9 tackles average was the second-highest in Mississippi last season, according to MaxPreps.

Davis’ father, Shaun Davis, was an assistant coach at Provine before joining Teddy Dyess’ team at Ridgeland this season.

Provine lost its first game of the season to undefeated Callaway 22-14 in double overtime last week. The Rams were driving for the go-ahead in regulation, but running back Brandon Jones was injured and the drive stalled. Provine was not expected to score in either overtime. Jones, who also plays linebacker, is questionable this week.

Ridgeland will drop to 2-0 in MHSAA Class 5A, Region 2 play and Provine will drop to 0-2.

Ridgeland 28, Province 7.

Parklane (4-0) at Jackson Prep (4-0)

Longtime MAIS football fans will remember the huge rivalry in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In fact, Parklane won more state titles (five to Prep’s three) from 1986 to 1994. MAIS Hall of Fame coach Charlie Newlon, who won 195 games from 1982 to 2007, led Parklane to all those state titles and successes.

But Parklane has lost to Prep 28 straight since 1995, including two losses last season (42-13 in the regular season and 55-13 in the playoffs). Most of those losses weren’t close. Only once in the last 20 years has Parklane got fewer than three Prep touchdowns (a 31-28 double-overtime loss to Parklane in 2019). Parklane hasn’t won a conference game since 2018. This is the first conference game – BUT Class 6A – for both teams.

But there is new optimism at the BUT school of McComb under coach Ron Rushing, in his second year as head coach at Parklane. The Pioneers have won their first four games for the first time since 2007 and have already won one game more than all of last season. Rushing knows how to win, winning a state championship at Cathedral in 2014. He also coached at Brookhaven Academy before coming to Parklane.

Parklane started 17 sophomores last season and Rushing is a year and a half into a strength program he said helps improve his team. Talented players like wide receiver Brewer Carruth and linebackers Walker Anderson and Chris Burton are back. Several of the players who were stars during the heyday of Parklane football in the late 1980s and early 1990s have sons in this team (names like Carruth, Rushing and Albritton feature on the list). In addition to those 17 returnees, Parklane has added a few talented transfers to the squad: quarterback Amarien Jefferson and safety Marcus Briggs (both from Tylertown), 6-foot-3, 230-pound linebacker Zed Washington (South Pike) and defensive back Jadarrion Hammond (Salem). Jefferson passed for 2,439 yards and 33 touchdowns to lead Tylertown to a 12-1 record and the MHSAA Class 3A quarterfinals last season. Washington led Class 4A South Pike with 14 tackles for loss last season.

The prep is enjoying its own resurgence this season under freshman head coach Doug Goodwin, who came to the prep after a successful career coaching high school football in Alabama for nearly three decades. He replaced Tyler Turner, who resigned in January after an 8-5 record, the most Prep losses since 1970, the school’s freshman year. Turner replaced former National High School Football Coach of the Year and Mississippi Hall of Famer Ricky Black, who surprisingly resigned two years ago after 24 successful years and 13 state championships in Prep.

Goodwin served as a special teams analyst for the past two seasons at Ole Miss and held various coaching positions, including director of high school relations, at Auburn from 2014-2019. He had a 234-91 record , a 72% winning percentage, in 27 seasons as a high school coach in Alabama in Marion County, Lineville, Demopolis, Russellville and Homewood from 1987 to 2013. In 2008, Goodwin became the first coach in the history of Alabama to take three different teams to a state championship game. He led his teams to 14 state and regional championships, 21 state playoff appearances, five state championship appearances, and one state championship. Goodwin was named Alabama Football Coaches Association Coach of the Year in 2008 and elected to the AHSAA Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

Senior prep quarterback Paxton Thompson passed for 821 yards and 11 touchdowns with just three interceptions. His main target is senior wide receiver Will Upton, who caught 19 passes for 414 yards and seven touchdowns. Upton is also a dangerous returner with 146 yards, including an average of 14.2 yards on punt returns.

Longtime prep assistant coach Nick Brewer is back in his role as defensive coordinator and the Patriots have allowed just five touchdowns and created five turnovers. Senior linebacker Duncan Mathews might be the best pound-for-pound player in BUT. The 5-foot-7, 160-pound Mathews — a baseball commitment from southern Alabama — has a team-high 33 tackles, eight for losses, and has two sacks.

Preparation 28, Parklane 14.

In other games (bold winning team):

Jim Hill (0-2-1) at Florence (3-0) (Thursday)

Callaway (3-0) in Guangzhou (1-2)

Cathedral (1-3) to Pisgah (1-2)

Central hinds (3-1) at Riverfield, Louisiana (2-2)

Charleston (1-2) at Pelahatchie (0-3)

Christian Clinton (4-1) at Benton Academy (0-4)

Discovery Christian (0-4) at Christian Collegiate (2-2)

East Rankin Academy (1-3) at Ethel (2-1)

Germantown (2-1) at Gulfport (2-1)

Hartfield Academy (2-1) at Bayou Academy (3-1)

Christian Hillcrest (2-2) at Russell Christian (4-0)

Lanyard (0-3) to Hancock (2-1)

McLaurin (0-3) at Lincoln West (0-3)

Murra (0-3) at Port Gibson (1-1-1)

Pearl (1-2) in Biloxi (1-1)

Poplarville (2-1) to Terry (3-0)

Raymond (1-1) at Yazoo County (2-1)

Richmond (2-1) at Franklin County (2-1)

Richton (1-2) at Puket (3-0)

St. Andrew’s (1-2) at Mc Adams (0-3)

Tri-County Academy (4-0) at Madison St. Joseph (2-2)

Velma Jackson (0-3) at Yazoo City (0-3)

Victoria (1-2) at Forest Hill (0-3) South Jackson Field

Wingfield (0-2) at West Jones (1-1)

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