• John Macon Gillespie

JMake's 10 Takes Coming In Hot: Week 1

I love this sport, and I love its fans.

Football is back, my friends, and not a moment too soon. Week 1 is always exciting as we finally get to see our teams play in games that count in the record books. All the gruesome summer workouts and practices in the heat of August have led to this.

The first week of the season always has some traditional and exciting matchups, and this year is no different. Four of the top-five teams in the SES Preseason Top 10 play each other this week, so not only do the games finally count on records, but they count in the rankings, as well.

I love to predict how things will turn out every given week even though this sport has taught us many times that it is unpredictable. I also love to get reactions (both positive and negative) from fans who read my predictions and think I have finally lost my mind. With that being said, here are ten hot takes and predictions about Week 1 of the high school football season.

1. No. 1 Starkville struggles with but beats No. 5 Noxubee.

Last week at Davis Wade Stadium, the Yellowjackets fell to Louisville, causing some murmurs on social media. Starkville is widely considered to be the best team in the state coming into 2018, but they have another large 4A test to start their regular season. I will have this one covered for SES on Friday in Starkville, and I expect the Tigers to put up a good fight, but eventually fall to the Yellowjackets.

2. Tupelo wins, Williams rushes for over 100.

Tupelo is loaded with offensive talent coming into this season, and it starts with running back Jaquerrious Williams. Saying that Williams will rush for over 100 yards might be setting the bar a tad low considering he reached that mark nine times last season, but it is still a milestone nonetheless. Look for Williams and names like Jordan Jernigan to have big games and give Tupelo the win.

3. Clinton starts 2018 with a win over USP.

South Panola graduated some talent last season, including former E10 member Patrick Shegog who is now at Delta State. I’m not going to say that this year could be difficult for the Tigers, but it may not be easy. This game last season was a thriller, and our very own Jared Redding will have this one covered on Thursday, which has become somewhat of a tradition. Give me Clinton over USP by a couple of scores.

4. Brandon tops Madison Central.

This has become a game that I look forward to every season. Not only are these two schools close geographically, but they are usually loaded with talent, and that’s the case this season. While I expect the Jaguars of Madison Central to have a strong season, I really like what I have seen from Brandon quarterback Will Rogers. The junior threw for nearly 2,500 yards last season and 18 touchdowns. Brandon lost last season by a touchdown, but I have them winning by one score this week.

5. West Point wins, but Columbus plays scrappy.

One of the biggest questions coming into 2018 is “Who is West Point?” The Green Wave have set the standard for Mississippi football over the last few seasons but graduated over 5,000 yards of total offense a season ago. West Point is known for reloading rather than rebuilding, and this week one matchup against their Golden Triangle rival will be a good indicator as to which they will be this season. Expect Columbus to play with their hair on fire, but West Point to win the game by a few scores.

6. Jefferson Davis County knocks off Harrison Central.

The smallest school that made the SES Preseason Top 10 was Jefferson Davis County, and a game like this could prove why. Last season, the 3A Jaguars took care of 6A Harrison Central 25-10. Sure, the Red Rebels finished 3-8 last season, but a small school like JDC knocking off a 6A team is impressive nonetheless. The Jaguars will be talented again this season, and I expect them to start off 2018 in the win column.

7. Hattiesburg emerges as title contender, defeats Petal.

Some of you already believe Hattiesburg is a contender for the 5A state title. Although I agree with you fully, not everyone is on the Tigers’ bandwagon just yet. The memories of West Point dominating every living soul that comes through 5A are still too fresh. Although Hattiesburg defeated Petal in their season opener last season, I expect them to look good doing it this time around, making a statement and putting themselves in the state championship conversation early.

8. Greenville St. Joseph’s Dillon Johnson emerges as one of Mississippi’s best players.

I covered a spring jamboree at Greenville St. Joe in 2017, and I came away with a couple of observations:

  1. Brice Johnson is good. (He is now a quarterback for Navy).

  2. His younger brother, Dillon Johnson, could be even better.

The Fighting Irish coaching staff believes that QB/FS Dillon Johnson has the potential to be the best athlete that has ever come through St. Joseph, and that’s saying a lot considering the quarterback that just left. Keep your eye on this small Delta school this season. You may be pleasantly surprised.

9. North Panola’s K.J. Jefferson rushes and passes for over 100 yards.

North Panola will be a lot of fun to watch this season, and a lot of that has to do with the living highlight reel they have at quarterback. K.J. Jefferson has put on a show in his career in Sardis and is looking to continue that into his senior year. He was the fifth member of this year’s E10, and I expect him to show the state why here in Week 1. North Panola wins, and Jefferson puts up crazy numbers in the process.

10. At least one game is delayed due to lightning.

We live in Mississippi, and we have waited for football to return for so long, so of course we’re going to have weather delays. The humidity mixed with our excitement for football will lead to this, because we who love this sport have the tendency to be disappointed. Bring your umbrellas and don’t stand next to the light poles, because things could get messy this weekend.

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