These are the top 10 games of the 2019 season that we can’t wait to see.
Taylorsville at Scott Central - August 22nd
Did you miss the Class 2A finale last December? If you did, or if you didn't, and you want to see a rematch, then you're in luck. Taylorsville saw its 2018 season end with a 21-7 loss to Scott Central in the 2A title game. But to be fair, the Tartars were without starting quarterback Ty Keyes, who sat out the game with an injury.
Sure, the game won't mean the same, nor be for a title, but it will be great to see Keyes and Taylorsville to get another shot at the Bulldogs. Taylorsville lost some playmakers, and so did Scott Central, yet this game will tell a lot about both for the 2019 season.
Hattiesburg at Laurel - August 30th
This rivalry is getting old - said no one ever. The Hattiesburg-Laurel rivalry dates back to the 1920s and is one of the oldest continuously played rivalries in the state of Mississippi.
This series has featured for doozies as of late. Every recent meeting between the two seems to come down to the last quarter - and as we saw in 201X, 28 points in less than four minutes left can be scored to win the game. Yeah, that’s how entertaining this rivalry can be.
Buckle up. I’m positive this year will be a must-see too.
Lumberton at Bay Springs - September 6th
Both schools have been a threat in their classifications in the last several years - Lumberton in 1A and Bay Springs in 2A.
Bay Springs lost a pair of stud running backs that made its Wing T offense dangerous in 2018. The Bulldogs have shown in recent years that they can reload instead of rebuild. By the time Lumberton rolls into town in Week 3, Bay Springs should have enough experience about them to be once again dangerous. Lumberton has shown in 1A that it can do the same. By Week 3, this game will be one interesting clash of each classification's heavy-weights.
Taylorsville at Collins - September 20th
Collins brings back a team of experience with 17 seniors, including star quarterback Hershey McLaurin who threw for over 2,400 yards in 2018. Booth has made it clear that he is excited about the group of seniors that he has, and expects them to be a contender in 2A south.
In Smith County sits a quarterback you might have heard about. His name is Ty Keyes. The 2018 season saw Keyes throw for over 3,700 yards as a sophomore. Keyes will be eager to head back to Covington County to show the Tigers last year’s game of throwing for just 124 yards on eight completions was just a fluke and not the norm.
This game could contend for the best high school game of 2019 in the state if the stars align. If the conditions are not sloppy, expect the points to roll in. However, both defenses could undoubtedly rise to the occasion the same as they did one season ago.
Sylva Bay Academy at Centreville Academy - October 4th
Last season Sylva Bay Academy surprised a lot of outsiders, going 10-3 on the year and advancing as far as the MAIS AA’s semifinal round. What made the year surprising was the year prior, Sylva Bay Academy finished 3-8. The Saints fell to Centreville Academy 40-38 in triple overtime.
This year, the two are in the same district and who wins the game will likely win District 3. Winning the district is huge, if not for any other reason than to earn a first-round playoff bye. Could this year see another overtime finish? I have no clue, but I can’t wait to find out.
Petal at Oak Grove - October 4th
The classic Petal versus Oak Grove rivalry takes place the first weekend of October this season and is sure to be exciting. The last five meetings have Oak Grove holding a 3-2 advantage over the Panthers, with the Warriors defeating Petal 26-19in the regular season and 48-35 in round two of the 6A playoffs.
Gone is Ole Miss athlete John Rhys Plumlee, but Oak Grove returns an experienced linebacker group who could make life hard for Petal quarterback Decarlos Nicholson and company. Petal could avenge their losses against Drew Causey’s squad in 2019, but the Oak Grove crowd will be raucous and rowdy when they step into the stadium on a hopefully cool night.
Picayune at Hattiesburg - October 11th
One of the most exciting games last year in Region 4-5A football was Hattiesburg vs. Picayune. That game decided the district, and Picayune was the closest anyone in the district got to Hattiesburg. Fast forward to 2019, and while faces change, both teams look to October 11th as a game that could once again decide the district.
The Tigers lost experience at many positions, but the talent is never a problem for head coach Tony Vance’s team. Picayune is similar in many ways but will look to control the clock and pace the game like they routinely do year in and year out. Other teams may try to pounce, but this is the game many should have circled as who sits on the throne as district champions.
Laurel at West Jones - October 18th
Mark it down - the top spot in Region 3-5A will likely come down to these two teams, much like last year.
Laurel edged West Jones in region play 23-17 last season in overtime and eventually won the 3-5A title. But West Jones proved to be the better team down the streak as the Mustangs downed Hattiesburg and Picayune to advance to the Class 5A title game.
West Jones lost the most from last year’s team. Gone are Byron Young, Jon Micah Coleman and Damion Cunningham that made the defensive line and defense as a whole one of the best in the state. Laurel lost key players as well. Still, this game will be a must-see and will likely decide who gets the top spot in 3-5A.
Jefferson Davis County at Seminary - October 18th
Much like Oak Grove, Seminary got the better of Jefferson Davis County in both the regular season and playoffs. Gone is Nathan Pickering who is now in Starkville with the Bulldogs, and Marquis Crosby who transferred to Presbyterian Christian during the offseason for Seminary.
The Jaguars are no strangers to success, as head coach Lance Mancuso has led his team to six State Championships in 10 seasons. Seminary got a taste of State Championship play last season but fell to Water Valley 34-28. Expect these two teams to fight and claw in a competitive game that could decide Region 8-3A football.
Perry Central vs. North Forrest - November 1st
The past four meetings between North Forrest and Perry Central give the Bulldogs a 3-1 advantage over the Eagles. However, last season North Forrest upended Perry Central 26-6 in the season finale. Playoff positioning or even a playoff spot could be on the line in this contest as North Forrest has a young, but talented squad.
Similarly, the Bulldogs do not bring back many seniors. However, they will be fired up to retake their claim and start a new winning streak against North Forrest. Keep an eye out as the season progresses, because a lot could be on the line to make this game even more important than a typical district rivalry game.
(Kevan Lindsay also authored this article)