• John Macon Gillespie

Five for Friday: Breakdowns & Picks

Oak Grove @ Meridian

This game should give us the best unit vs. unit match-up of the week. You have the Meridian defense, loaded with SEC talent, versus the prolific offense of Oak Grove. Alex Ward has thrown for over 3,200 yards this season with 35 scoring tosses. Jordan Duncan and Charles Hartfield have combined for over 1,900 of those yards and 20 of those TDs. However, Meridian has impressive wins this season on the back of their defense that features Alabama commit DL Raekwon Davis, Florida commit S Quincy Lenton and Vanderbilt commit S Zaire Jones.

If you are Oak Grove coming into this game, you certainly have to be confident. Your only two

losses this season came early in the season to D’Iberville and to Brandon. Last week you beat a good Ocean Springs team. Oak Grove is a really good team, but they must also note that Meridian has beaten a couple of the state’s best teams this season in Noxubee County, Brandon and Gulfport.

For the Wildcats coming into this game, there is momentum. Also, hopefully for Meridian, there is consistency. That is seemingly the one thing they have lacked this season. As noted, their defense is fearsome with the studs they have on that side of the ball and they have beaten good teams. They also played South Panola tough in a 21-14 loss. The key for Meridian is to get production from quarterback Tray Warren on the ground, while also being able to get the ball into receiver Daniel Crowell’s hands.

SES Take: “Meridian lost a close game to Oak Grove in the regular season by only three points. The Wildcats have home field advantage, which will be the edge they need. They have lost close games to great teams and will refuse to let this one slip away at home in the playoffs.” Austin Davis, SES Staff Writer

Germantown @ Oxford

To continue the theme of weekly best, this game will bring us the best player vs. player this week. In this one we get to see SES Elite 10 members face off in cornerback Nigel Knott and receiver DK Metcalf. We have perhaps the state’s best cover corner battling against perhaps the state’s best go-to receiver. Metcalf is 6-3(that looks more and more like 6-4) and plays even bigger than that. There’s one-handed catches, leaping catches, diving catches and all kinds of acrobatics on the field when Metcalf is present. Then there’s Knott who stands 6-0 and looks far bigger than your average cornerback. He has long arms, ball skills and athleticism for days(see his bevy of YouTube videos).

The Mavericks are 9-3 this season and they have what any team would like to have in two lockdown cornerbacks in Taury Dixon and the aforementioned Knott. However, they also have Dalton Bradfield, their running back, who has rushed for 1,304 yards and 20 scores this season. The Chargers boast a quality front seven with DE Korbin Harmon and MLB Jack Turner. This could be another match-up to watch.

For Oxford the storyline is equally as compelling. Yes, they have Jack Abraham, Metcalf, Zack Cousar, Jimmy Greaser and Ken Presley to use in the passing game, however, if they choose to not challenge the Germantown cornerback duo as much, they could absolutely find a mismatch with their emerging running game. Hiram Wadlington has come on strong since the Chargers lost Drew Bianco. Last week he ran for 151 and 2 TDs against Vicksburg.

Wayne County @ Pearl River Central

This is another match-up you can’t help keep your eyes on this week. The best of the week here is the player vs. unit. We get to see SES Mr. Elite finalist and Wayne County defensive tackle Benito Jones try to impact the dominating run game of Pearl River Central. It is also a match-up of really good teams. Wayne County handled Picayune in the first round of the playoffs after losing their regular season finale to rival Laurel. Other than that loss the War Eagles only lost to one other Mississippi team this season and that was Oak Grove. The Blue Devils, like Oak Grove, are dominant offensively they just go about that in a different way. They are also winners of nine straight games.

Pearl River Central has been effective offensively this season as they average over 350 yards

per game on the ground. Seniors Christian Roberts and Hunter Holifield and junior Michael Tatman all are over 1,000 yards on the ground this season. Junior quarterback Wyatt Davis was asked to not turn the ball over and make the few passes he threw this season count. He was effective in both of those areas. He did not throw a pick all season. However, the Wayne County defensive line is capable of causing different results. Jones can contain the run from his interior position, but he, as well as his other DL teammates, can also get after a passer.

The Blue Devil defense gave up under 13 points per game this season. There is no doubt that unit can get it done. With that said, Wayne County signal caller Reggie Steward has thrown for over 2,100 yards this season. He has been effective, while they also rush for over 200 yards per game. If the War Eagles are able to be balanced as they have for much of the season they could be hard to stop.

Noxubee County @ Houston

Noxubee County is coming off a big first round win over a very good Lafayette team. The Tigers uses a 37-yard touchdown pass with only four seconds remaining to break a 13-13 tie and get the win. They now travel to Houston to take on the hottest team in 4A.

On the back of sophomore quarterback Urrish Shephard, the Hilltoppers have rolled to a nine win season including a big upset win over Rosa Fort last week in the first round of the playoffs.

Noxubee County will need their stellar defense to continue to play lights out football and contain Shephard if they want to avoid an early postseason exit. Houston will have a huge advantage in that they get to play this one at home and the entire community is fired up.

Bassfield @ Taylorsville

On paper this one should not be very close. Bassfield has owned the 2A ranks now for nearly half of a decade. They currently sit at 11-2 with their only losses coming to the defending 3A champions in Collins and Niceville High School, a Florida powerhouse. Taylorsville has only won two games more than they have lost this season.

However, the Tartars have big play potential in a scary good combination of quarterback Tucker Boykin and wide receiver Devin Duckworth. If they can land a few haymakers early it will go a long way in their efforts to do what no one else has been able to do over the past four years and that is beat Bassfield in November.

SES Take: "Bassfield is a giant in their classification. They have the playmakers to win games in much higher competition levels and they prove that often. They have talent all over the field as usual this year. Taylorsville has momentum and played well last week but are outmatched this week." John Luke McCord. SES Staff Writer

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