Playoff Picture: 1A-6A
As Friday nights finally start to reach lower temps the action on the field is beginning to heat up. Classes 2A through 4A kicked off playoff action this past Friday. This Friday night 6A, 5A and 1A will join them.
So with just 16 teams left alive for each classification, and Friday still a couple of days away, all that is left to do is break down how each playoff bracket could unfold in the coming weeks. Let’s take a look at how each bracket breaks down, as well as a few feature match-ups:
6A - 1st Round
Northwest Rankin at Tupelo
Columbus at Madison Central
Hernando at Clinton
Warren Central at South Panola
Biloxi at Pearl
Meridian at George County
Petal at D’Iberville
Gulfport at Brandon
Warren Central(9-2, 5-2) at South Panola(7-5, 6-1)
Warren Central handed the Clinton Arrows their only loss of the season on October 21st, something South Panola was unable to do in the opening week of the season. In recent weeks the Vikings have posted 28 and 24 points against Starkville and Callaway, respectively. Those two defensive units, like South Panola are very stingy.
In their last seven games, all within division play, the Tigers are allowing just six points per contest. That includes shutout victories against Horn Lake, Olive Branch and Columbus, in addition to allowing just a field goal to region 1-6A champion, Tupelo. South Panola will need offense to make a run, but their defense can certainly hold their own.
5A - 1st Round
Holmes County Central at West Point
Oxford at Grenada
Clarksdale at Germantown
Vicksburg at Lake Cormorant
Stone at Laurel
Brookhaven at Hattiesburg
Wingfield at Picayune
Pascagoula at Wayne County
Clarksdale(8-4, 4-3) at Germantown(8-3, 6-1)
There have been no shortage on challenges for Clarksdale this season. Three of their four losses have come at the hands of Tupelo, West Point and Oxford. That is the state’s top-ranked team, the region 1-5A champ and the winner of the North half each of the previous two seasons. The Wildcats have plenty of team speed and that could make them a threat in the playoffs.
The Mavericks of Germantown are riding a wave of momentum into the playoff, as they have claimed six of their last seven contests. The lone loss in that run was at the hands of division foe Holmes County Central. Before that they dropped two non-division games, to Northwest Rankin and Clinton. They are not only hot, but they are battle-tested, similar to the Wildcats.
4A - 2nd Round
Cleveland at Amory
Louisville at Lafayette
Pontotoc at Greenwood
Senatobia at Noxubee County
Purvis at West Lauderdale
East Central at Florence
Quitman at Poplarville
Mendenhall at St. Stanislaus
Louisville(7-5, 4-1) at Lafayette(9-2, 5-0)
The red hot Louisville Wildcats could be facing the most complete team in the 4A playoffs in the Commodores, but they have won six of their last seven. The lone defeat was a close contest that saw them fall to eventual division champs, Noxubee County. The talent the Wildcats possess on the defensive side of the ball has to be a concern for Michael Fair’s squad.
Meanwhile, Lafayette has won nine straight after starting the season 0-2. In game three they claimed the Crosstown Classic 23-3 over Oxford. Since then they haven’t looked back. Now they must continue to avoid losses, as it will only take one to end their streak and send them home.
3A - 2nd Round
East Side at Kossuth
Yazoo County at Charleston
North Panola at Velma Jackson
Independence at North Pontotoc
Wilkinson County at Kemper County
Seminary at Southeast Lauderdale
Forest at Hazlehurst
Raleigh at Tylertown
Raleigh(11-1, 4-1) at Tylertown(11-0, 5-0)
Raleigh was 10-0 before losing their final regular season game to Morton by a single point, in double overtime. However, they rebounded last week with a first round win over Philadelphia. The Lions’ rushing attack rolls up 400 yards per game.
Tylertown remains unbeaten on the season and they ran their record to 11-0 with an opening round win over Jefferson county a week ago. The Chiefs have reached the 30-point mark in eight game this season, and five times they scored 42 or more.
2A - 2nd Round
South Delta at Baldwyn
East Webster at Strayhorn
Walnut at West Bolivar
JZ George at Calhoun City
Amite County at Bay Springs
Prentiss at Union
St. Joe’s Catholic at Bassfield
Heidelberg at North Forrest
Heidelberg(8-4, 3-2) at North Forrest(5-6, 4-0)
Heidelberg enters this match-up with four straight wins under their belt. That includes a win over Puckett in the first round last week, a team who had been ranked fifth in the latest SES Mississippi 2A poll. The final week of the regular season they defeated Union, who was ranked fourth in that same 2A poll. The Oilers are playing the best ball of their season currently.
North Forrest has been playing for their lives for about half the season now, so the playoffs are no adjustment for them. After starting 0-6, they ran through their division clean at 4-0. They registered their fifth consecutive win last week in the first round against Loyd Star.
The Oilers defeated the Eagles at home 22-16 on September 23rd.
1A - 1st Round
Broad Street at Smithville
Vardaman at Ray Brooks
Falkner at Simmons
Shaw at West Lowndes
Sacred Heart at Nanih Waiya
Noxapater at Resurrection
French Camp at Lumberton
Stringer at Sebastopol
Stringer(7-4, 4-2) at Sebastopol(8-4, 7-1)
Through Stringer suffered just two losses in division play, they did come back-to-back to end the season. That isn’t the way you want to enter the playoffs, but talented all-purpose back Anthony Thomas has already put up 200 yards on the ground against the defense he will face Friday night.
After a 2-3 start Stringer has won six of their last seven games. That momentum, plus familiarity with the Red Devils, should be a big boost in their favor in this opening round match-up. Garrand Bobbitt has made plays all season, and the ball will be in his hands plenty on Friday night.
Stringer beat Sebastopol 39-38 at home on October 21st.
**Photo by Keith Warren of the MHSAA.