• John Macon Gillespie

SES Five For Friday, Picks & Breakdowns

#1 South Panola @ #4 Madison Central

This is game will answer a lot of questions that the first three weeks of the season have presented. Is South Panola really as good as they have looked in their wins over Clinton and Meridian? Is Madison Central poised to make a serious run at the 6A crown?

South Panola is 2-0 and has completed one pass on the season. That is due, in large part, to the fact that senior quarterback Tyler Pogue is still returning from a spring knee injury. If he is able to stretch the field on Thursday night, the Jaguars will find themselves in serious trouble.

Madison Central used a bend but don’t break mentality last week in a road win over Oxford. The Jag defense gave up a ton of yards to Oxford’s Jack Abraham through the air but did not break in key moments, which helped them hold on for the win.

This game will be won on the defensive side of the ball. Who ever forces the big turnover, wins the game.

#10 Oxford @ #8 Lafayette

Oxford is in desperate need for a win. They have dropped two games in a row to some of the state’s top 6A teams. Lafayette sits undefeated and crashing into the polls after a big win over Grenada a week ago.

Oxford still boast one of the top passing games in the state and have used sophomore running back Drew Bianco to add weight to the Charger’s ground attack. The Charger’s defense has struggled this season with the passing game and have been a victim to big plays that have cost them dearly in each of their two losses. It will be the defense that will need to show up and show out on Friday.

Lafayette has been rolling this season on the back of a veteran offensive lineman in Eli Johnson, a workhorse of a running back in Tyrell Price and the emergence of the passing game from quarterback Will Ard. This group has shown no signs of slowing down and could control the clock on Friday night. Defensively, Commodore linebacker Quin Jones will have his hands full in coverage while junior defensive end Amani Johnson could provide a big spark for the Dores in the pass rush.

If Dores struggle to slow the Charger offense, it could be a long night for the home team. However, if the Chargers cannot stop the powerful running attack of Lafayette then the county school could claim the bragging rights in 2015.

Tupelo @ #9 Brandon

The Golden Wave enter this game with momentum following a victory over cross-county rival Shannon. Senior QB Daniel Bristow led the charge with 3 touchdowns. Bristow has developed into a leader, which could prove vital to Tupelo with the playmakers around him. Pair that with a solid, young and athletic defense and the Wave are vying for a spot in the SES Top 10.

Brandon is already in the SES Top 10 and they'll be looking to show why when Tupelo rolls into town. The Bulldogs have been battle tested this season having already faced Madison Central and Clinton. The Bulldogs have rushed for 130 or more yards in their wins over Clinton and Ocean Springs, while a big defensive performance helped them hang around MC all night.

This matchup could come down to defense, specifically, whether or not Tupelo's D can stop the run and if Brandon can contain Tupelo's passing attack.

#2 Noxubee County @ Meridian

Meridian is hands down the best winless team in the state. The Wildcats have battled three of the best teams in football to their knees in each of the first three weeks of the season only to come up short. They will be gunning for win number one on Friday night.

Noxubee County is coming off of a 10-6 road loss to one of the best teams in Texas. They will be hungry to et back on track and will again lean on their powerful defense to get the job done on the road.

This game is simple. Two fo the state’s most talented defenses are squaring off. Whichever offense can find the end zone will win. However, don’t be surprised if it is a defensive touchdown that seals the deal in this one.

Columbus @ West Point

Marcus Murphy is, without question, the engine that drives West Point. The sophomore is averaging 92 yards per game for the Green Wave2, who are averaging over 236 yards per game as a team. The Wave lean on their running game because of a stout offensive line, led by surefire SEC prospect Scott Lashley. The Wave were shutout last week against Starkville, but only allowed 16, after giving up only 7 on the road at Louisville in their first game. So the defense should also prove tough against Columbus.

Columbus boasts an SEC prospect of its own in running back Kylin Hill. The Falcons can also empathize with the Green Wave, as their lone loss came to one of the state's best teams in Noxubee County. Columbus will be looking to step up defensively, especially against the run. However, the Falcons do average around 25 points a game.

Both of these teams like to get most of their production on the ground, albeit in different ways, and this matchup will be no different. Whichever team proves to be more effective running the football should come out of this game with a win to boast about.

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