• John Macon Gillespie

Five For Friday: Breakdowns & Staff Picks

#4 Wayne County @ #8 Laurel

This game is clearly the headliner of the week. Webb will be in Laurel for this matchup Between the Bricks, that is known simply as, “The Game.” It should be an awesome game. Both teams are 6-0 in division play and this one decides who will be crowned division champs. On one hand you have a daunting defense that is lead upfront in the trenches by Ole Miss commit and Mr. Elite Finalist Benito Jones. On the other you have a high-powered offense lead by a signal caller that is committed to the University of Memphis and is, himself, a Mr. Elite Finalist in Keon Howard. Something will have to give in this one.

Wayne County has two losses this season by a combined 12 points, including a 34-33 loss at the hands of Oak Grove. At 8-2, with those close losses it has been an impressive year for the War Eagles. They are looking to cap it off in a big way this week as they face maybe their toughest offensive opponent yet. This season the Wayne County D has combined pressure on the quarterback and excellent play in the secondary to come up with 15 sacks and 16 interceptions. They will need a few of each to get a win this week.

The Tornadoes of Laurel have scored 37 points or more in their last six games. In fact, during that stretch, they have gone over 40 points in four of those games and over 60 in two of them. So it is safe to say that Keon Howard and the offensive attack for the Tornadoes is white hot. Howard is a Mr. Elite finalist for a reason as he has thrown for nearly 2,300 yards and 32 TDs. He has a trio of targets to pass the ball to as well, in senior Octavious Cooley who leads the team in catches, TD receptions and receiving yards. Then there are a pair of juniors in Tyquan Ulmer and Dontario Drummond who have combined for another 8 receiving TDs.

SES Take: “Laurel lost three of their first four games and because of that have been winning quietly outside of the minds or rankings throughout the state. They are back in the top 10 this week and have too many weapons to be slowed down by the War Eagles.” Webb Lewis, SES Editor-in-Chief

Clinton @ #2 Starkville

This is a match-up that we have been waiting on all season. It features two teams that we have been talking about all season, as well. Another match-up between a high-powered offense and a demoralizing defense. Can Cam Akers and the Arrows of Clinton have success against the star-studded, talent-laded Starkville Yellow Jacket defense?

The Clinton offense is incredibly balanced. They average over 200 yards per game in the air, as well as another 250+ on the ground. They are led by junior quarterback Cam Akers who averages just under 195 yards per game through the air and just under 120 yards per game on the ground. His sidekick in the backfield is fellow junior Darius Maberry, who averages around 115 yards per game on the ground. The duo have combined for 22 rushing scores this season, while Akers has thrown for 16 TDs.

As previously mentioned on here by me, the Starkville defense has division one talent all over the field. Defensive end Lorenzo Dantzler is committed to Louisiana Tech, while fellow defensive lineman Kobe Jones has offers from many SEC Western Division teams. Junior linebacker Willie Gay has early offers from both in-state SEC schools and could be Mississippi’s best prospect in the 2017 class. The Yellow Jackets have given up 7 points or less in six games this season, including three shut outs. They have given up over 14 points just once this season and that came in their first game of the season, and lone loss, to Noxubee County when they have up 26 points in an overtime game.

Pearl @ #5 Brandon

On paper, Brandon should cruise to their final regular season win of the season. However, Oak Grove should have made easy work of the Pirates a week ago but could not.

Pearl has had young guys step up over the past couple of weeks and seniors playing like seniors should. Brandon should still be able to take care of business in this one but this is a rivalry game. It is also the last game many seniors will ever play. That means anything can happen.

A sweet way to close the regular season is with a win over your rival.

Amory @ Noxubee County

This game features perhaps the best 4A team in the state of Mississippi and an underdog in the Amory Panthers. However, there is a reason that we highlighted this game this week. It is the first round of the playoffs for these two teams and it marks the start of their new season. A few weeks ago, we doubted Amory and their exciting wildcat-based offense surprised us when they took down the then-hot Pontotoc Warriors. The Panthers are certainly looking to do the same this week. While Noxubee County is looking to run their winning streak to six games.

The Panthers aren’t big fans of passing the football. Instead, they like to stick to snapping the ball directly to their play makers and letting them run wild. They run for around 211 yards per game. Amory has four guys that have at least 400 yards rushing this season. Those four guys have combined for 27 rushing scores this season. So that will be the bread and butter for the Panthers.

For the Tigers of Noxubee County, the game plan is simple. They must win the line of scrimmage and not let the Panther rushing attack get going. Jeffery Simmons should help anchor an impressive defensive line for the Tigers that is more than capable of controlling the game. On the offensive side they will rely on QB Timorrius Conner who has amassed 2,000 yards passing and 20 total TDs this season.

SES Take: “The last time I saw Amory this season TJ Fields and Austin Carter got it going. They were focused and I expect them to be that way tonight, too. I'm also saying they get that wildcat rushing attack going in a big way.” John Luke McCord, SES Staff Writer

Philadelphia @ Collins

Philadelphia has had one of their worst seasons in recent memory. However, they still have found themselves in the playoffs.

Waiting for them are the defending 3A State Champions. Collins has crushed opponents this season and inside division play have not had a single slip up.

For the Philly Tornadoes to win this one, they will need to play their best game of the season and get a little help from the weather conditions to slow down the Collins offensive attack.

SES Take: “Collins is 10-1 going into this game with their only loss coming at the hands of Hattiesburg by two points. They can play with anyone in the state and are undefeated in district play. As bad as Philadelphia needs to get to .500 in district play, I don't see them taking down the Tigers at home.” Austin Davis, SES Staff Writer

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