Coverage Breakdown: Madison Central @ South Panola
Players to Watch
O’Bryan Goodson - The Memphis commit starts everything in motion for the Tiger defense. He is quick enough to be disruptive in the passing game and strong enough to make plays against the run, as well. Offenses have to be fixated on what Goodson is doing each play.
Eriq Kitchens - What Kitchens brings to the USP defensive line that Goodson does not is length. Not only is Kitchens long, though, he’s extremely quick and athletic. Like Goodson, he is productive against the pass and the rush. That makes him a weapon against any offense, but his pass rushing skills could come in handy this week.
D’Jordan Strong - Strong is the best athlete on the South Panola team, without question. He is an excellent defender, though it’s been his offense that has shined so far. He has 14 catches for 185 yards and two scores. He might be better on defense, but the Tiger offense needs someone who can make plays with the ball in their hands, especially at receiver and he has stepped in to fill that void.
Patrick Shegog - Though the Tigers need their junior quarterback to be better if they are going to compete for a state championship, Shegog has been pretty good out of the gate. He’s thrown for 270 yards and three scores, while his 134 rushing yards is third on the team and his two rushing scores leads the team.
Jamian Johnson - Johnson has been the best offensive player for the Tigers in 2016. He leads the team with 259 rushing yards. He’s gone for over 100 yards in one game and his 86.3 yards per game on the ground has carried USP to some extent. Lance Pogue’s team needs Johnson to stay productive on the ground while other playmakers emerge around him.
Jack Walker - Most anyone who follows high school football in Mississippi could have predicted that Walker would be impressive in his senior season. So far, all he’s done is complete nearly 72 percent of his passes. Additionally, he’s thrown for 378 yards and three scores. He will need to carry this offense this season, because from the early look of things the Jaguars can compete for it all in 2016.
Gabe Short - Short is leading the Jags with 83.5 yards per game on the ground this season and one rushing entrance into the endzone. For MC to reach their offensive potential, they need Short to step his game up. He is more than capable of doing so, even though he’s been good so far this season.
Cedric Beal - Beal is another running back that needs to step his game up. But he’s also more than capable of doing so. He’s toting it over four yards per carry, but he only has 14 carries so far this season. Look for Beal to take his game to another level starting this week against a tough defense. His skills are of that of top running backs in Mississippi, just time to put it together in 2016.
Hunter Blalock - Blalock is the go-to guy in the receiving corps, but like Beal and Short, he must step his game up. Jack Walker is doing a lot for this club and he needs some help. He’s gotten some from Blalock so far, to the tune of 10 catches, 173 yards and a scoring catch. He has to give the team more than just 57.7 receiving yards per game, though, and he will starting this week.
DeMario Mays - Though the South Panola passing attack has been less than great so far this season, Mays could have a hand it having an even tougher time this Thursday night against the Jaguar defense. He is responsible for a team-high three pass deflections so far this season and it’s only a matter of when he gets that first pick of 2016. That could come this week if the Tigers throw his way enough.
Keys to the Game
Which offense executes their strength better? This game could come down to which team does what they do best, better. Whether it be the MC passing attack beating the USP secondary or the Tiger rushing attack taking advantage of the Jaguar front seven.
Conversely, the game could be decided by which offense is able to bring some balance. The Jags haven’t rushed for big numbers so far and the Tiger haven’t thrown it all that well. Who turns it around this week?
Which defense comes up with the key turnover. I expect both defenses to come up with plenty of stops, but which one gets the key fumble or pick.
D’Jordan Strong or DeMario Mays
Yeah, it’s a copout to take both of these guys, one from each team. But both guys have x-factor written all over them. Look for an interception from Mays or a long score from Strong that changes this game.
**Madison Central photo by Keith Warren of the MHSAA.
**South Panola photo by Andy Young.