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Madison Central headlines Preseason SES Top 10


Madison Central quarterback Jimmy Holiday attempts a pass while being pressured by Brandon's Jordan Lawson during a high school football game on August 17, 2018. Both Madison Central and Brandon were named to the Preseason SES Top 10 on Friday. (Photo courtesy of Keith Warren, MHSAA)

The SES Mississippi staff released its Preseason Top 10 on Friday, which is a mere 41 days before the official beginning of the MHSAA football season.


Of the teams in the rankings, seven finished last season in the final SES Top 10. Below is the complete list of rankings as well as a breakdown of each team. Five schools also received votes to be included but missed the cut.


Preseason SES Top 10

1. Madison Central

2. Starkville

3. Pearl

4. Brandon

5. Oxford

6. West Point

7. Olive Branch

8. Horn Lake

9. Petal

10. West Jones


Receiving votes: Oak Grove, Wayne County, Holmes County Central, Louisville, Warren Central


Photo courtesy of Keith Warren, MHSAA

1. Madison Central


The Jaguars return one of the most dangerous quarterbacks in the state in Elite 10-member Jimmy Holiday. Holiday passed and rushed for over 1,000 yards a season ago and had a total of 34 touchdowns. Holiday also returns a strong supporting cast, including junior running back Duke Arnold. Madison Central's defense is anchored by Nick Carter and Hayes Bufkin who combined for a total of 181 tackles last season, 17 of which were for a loss.



Photo by John Macon Gillespie, SES Mississippi

2. Starkville


The Yellowjackets have come up just short of a state title in Chris Jones' tenure, and although they graduated a talented running back in Rodrigues Clark, they return a strong cast of players in 2019, including junior quarterback Luke Altmyer who passed for nearly 2,000 yards a season ago. Altmyer is supported by wide receiver Rufus Harvey who counted for nearly 1,000 receiving yards last season.



Photo courtesy of Keith Warren, MHSAA

3. Pearl


Just a year removed from a state title in 2017, the Pearl Pirates appear to be back in contention. The Pirates are led by junior quarterback Shade Foster who passed for over 1,000 yards last season and linebacker Samuel Brunfield who accumulated 144 total tackles in 2018. They also return a 1,000-yard rusher in Kenyatta Harrell who found the end zone 19 times a season ago.



Photo courtesy of Keith Warren, MHSAA

4. Brandon


Much like their Jackson-area counterparts, the Brandon Bulldogs are also led by strong quarterback play. Bulldog quarterback Will Rogers was named to the SES Mississippi Elite 10 earlier this summer, and although he lost a wide receiver in Jonathan Mingo to graduation and Ole Miss, he returns a more-than-capable set of pass catchers, headlined by classmates Jatavious Lucious and Joshua Aka who combined for 10 touchdown grabs a season ago.



Photo courtesy of Angel Smith

5. Oxford


Perhaps one of the biggest jumps into the rankings we've ever seen, the Oxford Chargers are out for blood this season. The Chargers finished an impressive 9-3 a season ago behind a strong coaching effort from Chris Cutcliffe and the on-field talents of Jeremiah "J.J." Pegues, who made his way into the Elite 10 earlier this summer. The Chargers will be tested early this fall as they open their season against Northwest Rankin.


6. West Point


Our first 5A representative comes in the form of the West Point Green Wave. West Point has won three-straight state titles and has 10 in school history, second most all-time behind South Panola's 11. Although the Point graduated quarterback Jake Chambless, they return an elite running back in Brandon Harris, and if the Green Wave have shown us anything, it's that they don't rebuild; they reload.


7. Olive Branch


The Conquistadors are making the transition back to 6A this season but still boast a talented roster, highlighted by running back Gary Banks II. Banks rushed for over 1,000 yards in 2018 and 12 scores. Olive Branch also returns two defenders, Javien Adams and Jevon Banks, who racked up over 100 tackles last season. The 'Dores lost two games last season: both to No. 6 West Point.


8. Horn Lake


After a magical run to the school's first-ever state championship last season, the Eagles are expected to take a bit of a step back in 2019 after graduating generational talents Nakobe Dean and Raydarious Jones. Still, Horn Lake has a core of talent this year that will make them tough to beat, including defensive lineman Josaih Hayes who is widely regarded as one of the best lineman prospects in this 2020 class.


9. Petal


The Petal Panthers finished a mere 6-7 last year but return an absolutely loaded senior class, highlighted by quarterback Decarlos Nicholson and running backs Micah McGowan and Rashad Handford. The Panthers' Ja'korian Newsome, who accumulated 103 tackles on defense last season, gives Petal a well-rounded team and one that could make things interesting this fall.


10. West Jones


West Jones gave West Point all it could handle in last year's 5A State Championship game, and the Mustangs are hoping for a second shot at glory this year, and they have the returning talent to make it happen. West Jones returns junior quarterback Alan Follis who passed for nearly 2,000 yards last season and running backs Michael Neal and Jasper Jones. With this offensive attack, don't be surprised if the Mustangs are back in the state title picture come season's end.


Follow John Macon on Twitter @JMakeSES or email him at johngillespieses@gmail.com.

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