• Jared Redding

Rowdy's Five: Week 2 Edition

Starkville quarterback Luke Altmyer cocks back to throw a pass against Brandon on Friday, Aug. 23. (Photo Courtesy of Keith Warren, MHSAA)

Were you not entertained last week?

It feels so good to have high school football back, as evidenced by many people across the state. Last week was filled with interesting and thrilling matchups. Just wait until you see this slate of games this weekend.

Thats right, three Top 10 matchups highlight Week 2 of action, and that's just the surface of it. Let’s take a look at a few things to keep an eye on this week as the season is still in its early stages.

#1 vs. #2

Those two numbers should say it all.

This big matchup also just so happens to feature two of the state’s best quarterbacks and two Elite 10 members in Jimmy Holiday and Will Rogers. These quarterbacks and company will likely have their hands full with one another.

Madison Central opened the 2019 season with a dominant 42-0 win over Vicksburg in the Red Carpet Bowl. Their offense did what we all expected them to do and light up the scoreboard with Jimmy Holiday, Duke Arnold and Javarius Jordan. Their defense usually is one of the better ones in 6A every year, and this year is no exception. Just look at their box score: a fat donut to start off for the Jaguars.

Brandon went through an absolute dogfight to take down last week’s No. 2-ranked Starkville Yellowjackets. Will Rogers had a three touchdown performance behind center and his defense hung on for about 18 minutes of play to secure an enormous victory. Their performance resulted in leaping over county rival Pearl to land at our No. 2 spot in this week’s rankings.

The Bulldogs and Jags are ranked as the best two teams in the state for a reason. They are complete on both sides of the ball and are well coached. Grab your popcorn and enjoy the show.

The Little Egg Bowl

This rivalry’s trophy has spent approximently 1,821 days in Starkville’s field house since 2014. Let that sink in.

Last year’s 56-7 win over Oxford pretty much sums up how this rivalry has looked over the last half decade. The Chargers have been suffocated, beaten and just outright dominated by the Yellowjackets in most cases since the rivalry first started. Will this finally be the year the Chargers turn the tide?

Oxford’s defense is absolutely nasty this season with all they have in their secondary and front seven. They proved to be as such against the Cougars from Northwest Rankin last week, where the only big play and score given up was from a miscommunication within their zone defense. They are fast and they play from snap to whistle. Elite 10 athlete J.J. Pegues will also likely be hard to stop for any Jacket defender with his 6’3, 275 pound frame. Like almost always though, it won’t be an easy task to stop Starkville.

The Jackets had Brandon from time to time last week but were just outnumbered with the big plays despite having plenty of their own against some good defensive playmakers. Luke Altmyer will have to stay cool and use his arm talent to his advantage in order to win their first game of the season.

This is another Top 10 matchup. Hopefully this one won’t get ugly like last year.

Viking and Pirate ships collide in Pearl

When your team has a sign in the field house year around that says "Beat Warren Central," you know thats a game that you can’t lose.

The No. 3 Pearl Pirates will look to obey that command again this Friday after coming off a win at Clinton last week. Elite 10-member Kenyatta Harrell played a huge role in that win with a four-TD and near-200-yard rushing performance. They’ve already proven how well they can respond to momentum swings based on that game too. They’ll need to do the same against a Warren Central team that tends to strike when caught napping, so to speak.

The Vikings made their debut in our Top 10 this week after defeating a deep Holmes County Central team. Both teams were among those waiting in line for that spot. This team, last week and the past few years, have usually been that type of team that plays to go 1-0 each week and reset after doing so. They’ll need Jerious Stovall to be their guy to carry a load on the ground.

Again, another Top 10 matchup that has the chance to be interesting given the teams playing.

Potential Top 10 Upset Alert: No. 7 Olive Branch

There’s no question that the Conquistadors should be a good team this year in their return to Class 6A. They have too many talented players to think otherwise.

However, they haven’t played a down of real football yet in 2019 and their opponent not only has been battle tested early, but eventually figured things out late in their season opener. The Clinton Arrows went toe-to-toe with our No. 3 ranked team for three quarters while trying to figure out how they can replace the offensive production of Dez Baker and to maximize the strengths of their new offensive coordinator, Jeff Stockstill. Not bad.

Once again, this is not a declaration that an upset is predicted. However, if any Top 10 team is likely to lose to an outsider, it could be the Arrows. Look for them to make the long 207-mile road trip worth it.

County Rivalries

Let’s be real, who doesn’t love one of these? Those who attend these games usually go to the same church on Sunday, eat at the same restaurants and work with each other during the week. They also love themselves a friendly rivalry between their neighbors and co-workers. This Friday, we have plenty of those.

In the northeastern corner of the state, there's the infamous Skunk Bowl in Prentiss County, which might be the best rivalry name of any in this state between Baldwyn and Booneville. Let’s see if another skunk decides to invade the stadium this year.

In the friendly confines of Calhoun County, the Bruce Trojans go down the road to face the Vardaman Rams in a game where John Macon Gillespie and Cal Brown will likely keep a close eye on it due to their roots.

In one of the most tradition-rich counties for football, Simpson County will have one of their own with Mendenhall taking on the Magee Trojans. Class 2A-heavyweight Taylorsville will face off against neighbor Raleigh. Another 2A power Scott Central takes on Morton. Near Hattiesburg, theres a Jones County rivalry between Northeast Jones and West Jones too. There is plenty more to go around this week.

Looks like there won’t be too much traveling this week. But at least there will be more good football played.

Follow Jared on Twitter at @RowdySES.

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