Welcome to a new weekly write up on Bulldog Blitz where we delve into the always exciting world of Mississippi High School Football. When I was thinking of something new to add to the site, I thought about all of my Friday nights spent at the football fields. I can count on my hand the games that I've missed in the last 20 years.
For the last eight years, I've broadcast football games for a local television station in Louisville doing color commentary with my father for Winston Academy. My postseason consists of play-by-play radio for whomever Winston County has fighting for a State Championship, which last season were the Louisville Wildcats. Mississippi High School Football is simply what I love more than anything else in sports. It represents everything that is great about sports while leaving out all of the bad things. It's innocent and beautiful.
So let's get this started, shall we? Each week I will give you my top games of the week and thoughts on each game as well as a short roundup of what happened the week prior with players of the week and my weekly top 25.
Here's this week's games to watch for in the state for week one.
Game of the Week: Brandon at Madison Central- This is, no doubt, the game of the week in the state of Mississippi and a heck of a way to kick off this year's season. The game will be played in Madison later tonight giving football fans around the state the opportunity to travel and watch this game before their respective teams get going on Friday. Madison Central is facing an uphill battle in this game with the task of trying to stop, in my opinion, the top team in the state this year in the Brandon Bulldogs. Brandon returns most of their starters including junior quarterback Gardner Minshew a fast-rising prospect who shows all of the tools of a future star at the position. After a solid sophomore season in which he led his team to the State title game and just a few snaps of knocking out national-power South Panola, Minshew is a year older and wiser and should emerge as the state's top signal-caller in 2013. A solid backfield and receiving unit makes this team even more dangerous and their defense backs up the ranking as well led by rising junior Fletcher Adams up front. The Jaguars of MC aren't going to go quietly in this game, however.
With a new quarterback in Joseph Willis transferring from Neshoba Central, the Jaguars should have another strong season and be competing in their division. Legendary Coach Bobby Hall comes in to season number 8 at the helm with 283 wins and 74 losses to his record all-time in the state. Can the legend knock off another winner in Brad Peterson?
This is a monumental game for both teams with huge stakes on the line early. To watch this game live tonight, check out our friend Jake Wimberly on the call at brandonbulldogathletics.com. Winner: Brandon
Jackson Prep at Oxford
Jackson Prep has not been shy about scheduling outside of the MAIS, and why would they? The Prepsters have done nothing but win against most of the competition they have faced outside of the private schools and dominated inside their own division for the last decade. This season Prep readies for a matchup against Oxford in game one to try and set the tone. But with the loss of quarterback Ryan Buchanan to Ole Miss, how will they stack up against the competition this season?
Prep is coming off of an undefeated season and a State Championship trophy for the first time in three years. Head Coach Ricky Black has built a dynasty in Jackson and I expect there to be not much of a drop-off this season.
Oxford brings a strong defensive presence into this season led by MSU commit Darius Liggins at defensive end. The 6-5, 230-pound pass rusher is a player that will wreck havoc on opposing defenses this fall and make it tough for Prep to keep the offense steadily moving. Oxford rounds out my top 25 and should have a solid season. This is a game I'm interested in but Prep gives me no reason to believe they'll go down. Winner: Prep
Starkville at Noxubee County
Another game that intrigues most fans in the state is Starkville vs. Noxubee. Last season, no one came close to knocking off the Tigers who ran through 4A easily. Along the way they dismantled teams in 5A ball as well and Starkville was one of those. This game matches up State Champs from the 4A and 5A classifications with this year marking year one in 6A for the Yellow Jackets. Both teams are missing key pieces, however, with the Tigers losing star running back Darrell Robinson who set the Mississippi record for rushing touchdowns in a season with 50.
Starkville replaces several cogs of their lineup as well with quarterback and defensive back Gabe Myles heading off to MSU to play for the Bulldog secondary. Backup quarterback Caleb Wilson was billed as the next big thing in Starkville before father Chris took a coaching job at the University of Georgia. Finding a quarterback now gets tough for the Yellow Jackets and trying one out against a notoriously nasty defense like Noxubee is not a coach's dream. This should be fun. Winner: Noxubee
Pearl at Clinton
Not far up the road from each other, Pearl and Clinton represent a solid matchup to kickoff opening weekend as well. Clinton is led by star defensive lineman Grant Harris who is highly sought after and a member of the Clarion Ledger's Dandy Dozen. Still uncommitted, Harris has the opportunity to continue to go out and impress other schools on the field and that's what he'll do in game one.
Pearl has had lots of success over the past few season and should put up a good fight in this one but I think the Arrows come out on top in the end. Winner: Clinton
Choctaw County at French Camp Academy
This is a game that I'm interested in more than others because Ackerman is dear to my heart. Living in the town six years of my life, I've made lots of friendships and my family still resides there. The schools in Choctaw County mean a lot to those people and the loss of Ackerman High School took its toll. With a long history of great teams that Coach Ricky Woods coached at Ackerman before leaving for South Panola many years ago, the Indians were one of the top schools in 2A.
Consolidation now hits the county with Weir High School dissolving from a once proud program to a school in need of academic help. The Lions move over to Ackerman as the two teams combine to now form Choctaw County High School led by Ackerman Coach Adam Dillinger.
Now the Chargers, Choctaw County will start their new season off with last year's runner up for the state crown in 1A. Choctaw County makes the move up to 3A as things now grow increasingly more difficult but seniors Taboris Lee and Trey Brown provide a strong start on their respective sides of the line. I expect Choctaw County to get off to a great start. Winner: Choctaw County
Starting next week we will have the game of the week from the previous week as well as top performers from the week that was. For now, here is my preseason top 25. Let me know your thoughts.
Top 25: 1. Brandon 2. South Panola 3. Olive Branch 4. Madison Central 5. West Point 6. Oak Grove 7. Petal 8. Meridian 9. Noxubee County 10. Picayune 11. Wayne County 12. Bassfield 13. Starkville 14. Louisville 15. Gulfport 16. Natchez 17. Pascagoula 18. Clinton 19. Quitman 20. Pearl River Central 21. Ridgeland 22. McComb 23. Callaway 24. Lafayette 25. Oxford