Alas, the MHSAA regular season is here.
The worldwide pandemic labeled COVID-19 has done a number on the 2020 season already - shortened season, first-week cancelations, rules, regulations, and guidelines that have made administrations, coaches, and players want to get in the teeth pulling business. But here we are, and let’s try to make the best of a less than ideal situation.
Laurel at Hattiesburg
I know I’m not the only one glad that Laurel and Hattiesburg found a way to keep the Little Brown Jug game from skipping a beat. This game is ALWAYS worth the price of admission, no matter the final score.
Last season, Laurel jumped out to an early lead and held on for a convincing 35-19 win. Laurel returns key talent, especially on offense, and Hattiesburg will be better than they were a season ago, but it’s still won’t be enough to fill the gap. Laurel wins it’s second straight Little Brown Jug game.
James’ Prediction: Laurel 28, Hattiesburg 14.
Raleigh at West Jones
I’m fully aware that jamboree’s aren’t always an accurate measuring stick of how well a team is or can be in the regular season, but West Jones looked the part in nearly every way this past Friday night.
Raleigh is under new management this season, and from what I’ve been told, Coach Ryan Higdon is an outstanding man and coach. But this game still is the best of 5A vs. an average 3A program, and that’s not a recipe for a close game. West Jones won’t have any problems in Week 1 of the 2020 season if last Friday night’s display indicated the things to come. Mustangs win big.
James’ Prediction: West Jones 42, Raleigh 6.
West Lauderdale at South Jones
All aboard the Todd Breland Express! Breland will begin excitement to South Jones this year. While this won’t translate into an immediate turnaround and wins against programs like West Jones and Laurel, however, it ‘can’ translate into wins against programs like West Lauderdale. But last season, West Lauderdale smoked South Jones 57-14 in Week 3.
Several key players are set to return this year for West Lauderdale, including its leading rusher Ja’karius Grant. They’ve lost their quarterback Eli Bryan, who put up some decent numbers in 2019. South Jones will find itself in another tough battle.
James’ Prediction: West Lauderdale 34, South Jones 21.
Bay Springs at Lumberton
This could be one of the most exciting games in the area Friday night besides the Little Brown Jug game. Bay Springs is bringing back talent across the board with dynamic running back Ty Jones featured on offense. At Lumberton, the reigning 1A South State champions bring back senior Robert Henry who has rushed for over 5,000 yards. Still, I believe Dan Brady’s Bulldogs will have enough depth to take home the win for the second year in a row. It’ll be a wild one, though.
Kevan’s Prediction: Bay Springs 26, Lumberton 24
Stringer at Enterprise
The Red Devils bring back experience and now have depth at important positions. They have the potential to be a darkhorse team in 1A football. With that said, don’t worry too much about the results of this game Friday night. Enterprise was 11-2 last season and went 5-0 at home in the regular season. They return several contributors and should take this game. Stringer won’t go down without a fight, but the Bulldogs come away victorious.
Kevan’s Prediction: Enterprise 36, Stringer 18.
Tri-County Academy at Sylva-Bay Academy
Sylva-Bay has been put through the wringer two weeks into the season. With losses to Simpson Academy and Wayne Academy, the trend looks to continue as they face Tri-County Academy who is 2-0 on the season with a blowout victory in week one. The Saints will at least continue to gain experience with their young team.
Kevan’s Prediction: Tri-County Academy 42, Sylva-Bay Academy 12.
Be sure to visit our sports website (www.sports601.com) for complete coverage of Week 1 action on the gridiron. On our website you’ll be able to find game stories, features, photo galleries and videos from each week’s coverage.