West-Jones—Alan-Follis4

West Jones quarterback Alan Follis. (Photo courtesy of James Pugh)

CLASS 6A

North State: Oxford (11-0) at Clinton (10-2)

Chargers head down to Clinton to face the Arrows for the 6A North State. Oxford, the defending Class 6A state champion, is rolling on a 23-game winning streak. Both teams play great defense with Oxford giving up 17.6 points per game and Clinton allowing just 12.4 points per game. Oxford, the defending Class 6A state champion, is averaging 32.6 points per game offensively and is led by a passing attack that is averaging 165.3 yards per game led by quarterback Trip Maxwell along with receivers Jay Wortham and Dekyren Johnson. Promising junior running back Omar Howell is one to watch for the Chargers. Clinton quarterback Caleb Miller along with running backs Montavious Warren and Jakobe Calvin lead the rushing attack that averages 135 yards per game. The Arrows do average a little less than 100 yards a game through the air. The Arrow defense comes up big at home.

Pick: Clinton 21-14

South State: Northwest Rankin (9-3) at Oak Grove (11-0)

Cougars head down to Hattiesburg to face the Warriors in a 6A South State matchup of Region 3-6A foes. Oak Grove won the regular season matchup three weeks ago 56-30 in Flowood. The Warriors are seeking their third straight features an explosive offense that averages 45.1 points per game, 181.4 yards rushing and 195.2 yards passing anchored by quarterback Kade Barnett along with running backs Eugene Newell, Courtland Harris and receivers Tyrell Pollard and Jordan Coleman. The Cougars are in the semifinal round for the first time in school history. Northwest Rankin is very balanced on offense averaging 28 points per game, 182.8 yards passing and 140.4 yards rushing anchored by quarterback Caleb Parten, running back Cam Marion along with receivers Jordan Cavitt and Jordan Ware. The Warrior offense just too much.

Pick: Oak Grove 45-31

CLASS 5A

North State: West Point (10-3) at Ridgeland (10-2)

Green Wave head down to Ridgeland to face the Titans for 5A North State. This is West Point’s first time to travel in the semifinals since 2015 and this is also Ridgeland’s first time reaching the semifinal round since 2011. The explosive Titan offense is averaging 33.8 points per game, 272.2 yards passing per game and 166 yards per game rushing led by quarterback Zy McDonald, a Louisiana commit. Running back Donovan Ball is solid and receivers Richard Mays and Ayden Williams. The Titan defense only allows 22.4 points per game West Point, the four-time defending Class 5A state champion, The Green Wave is averaging 28.9 points per game offensively and is led by the always potent ground game that is averaging 240.2 yards per game and also 114.1 yards passing. Quarterback Corbin Kelly and running backs Chris Ivy, Jakobe Pate and Cameron Young provide much of the offense. The always stingy West Point defense only gives up 17.2 points per game. This is a David vs. Goliath type of game and this one is a toss up, but the Green Wave ground game is the difference.

Pick: West Point 24-21

South State: West Jones (11-2) at Pascagoula (8-4)

The Mustangs head down to Pascagoula to face the Panthers for 5A South State. West Jones in the semifinals for the third straight year, while Pascagoula is in the semifinals for the first time since 2012. The Mustangs are averaging 27.6 points per game offensively and is led by an air attack that averages 201.2 yards anchored by quarterback Alan Follis. Wide receivers Tajrick Randolph and Matthew Nixon are big-play threats. The Mustangs also average 169.5 yards per game rushing anchored by Joshua McDonald and Kentrel Pruitt. The Panthers are averaging 25.1 points per game offensively and is led by a rushing attack that averages around 200 yards per game anchored by quarterback Keilon Parnell and running back Kayvon Barnes. Receivers Houston Johnson and Jaylan Thompson are the top targets on the outside. The Mustang defense only allows 13.7 points per game and is the difference.

Pick: West Jones 28-14

CLASS 4A

North State: Itawamba AHS (8-3) at Louisville (11-1)

Indians head down to Louisville to face the Wildcats for 4A North State. Louisville is aiming to get back to the 4A state title for the second time in three years, while IAHS is seeking first ever trip to state championship game. The Wildcats are led by an offense that averages 27.1 points per game and a rushing attack that averages 187.2 yards per game led by quarterback Jace Hudspeth along with running backs Emory James and Jacorey Coleman. The Wildcats do average 141 yards per game passing with Jarvis Rush as the top target. The Wildcat defense that gives up just 8.8 points a game anchored by defensive end Ty Cooper and linebacker JaMarcus Eiland. Itawamba AHS is averaging 23.4 points per game and is once again led by a ground game that is averaging 144.8 yards per game led by quarterback Ty Davis along with running backs Tae Chandler and Jabari Shumpert. The Indians do average 131.1 yards per game passing as well with Isaac Smith being the top target. The Wildcat defense comes up big at home.

Pick: Louisville 20-10

South State: Mendenhall (6-5) at Poplarville (9-3)

The Tigers head down to Poplarville to face the Hornets for 4A South State. Poplarville is aiming to get back to the 4A state title game for the fourth time in the last five years. The Hornets offensively is averaging 34.6 points per game and is led by the always potent ground game that averages 298.1 yards per game anchored by quarterback Matt Will along with running backs Tyson Holston, D.J. Richardbey and Gregory Swann. The Tigers are in the semifinal round for the first time since 2010. Mendenhall is averaging just 17.7 points per game on offense and offensively the Tigers are balanced averaging 158.6 yards per game rushing and 145.2 yards passing per game led by quarterback D.K. Jenkins along with running back Reggie McLaurin and receiver Walter James Owens. The Hornet defense only allows 11.9 points per game and is the difference at home.

Pick: Poplarville 41-20

CLASS 3A

North State: Winona (11-1) at Noxubee County (9-1)

Winona head over to Macon to face Noxubee County in the all-Tigers 3A North State matchup. Winona is the semifinal round for just the third time in school history and first time since 2017. Winona is averaging 32.9 points per game offensively and is led by a ground game that averages 249 yards per game led by quarterback Jekeyvion Burnley and running back Deriaun Townsend. The Winona passing game is averaging 132.5 yards per game with Robert McMath and Dadarion Small being the top targets. Noxubee County is also led by a balanced offense averaging 32.4 points per game, 188.7 yards rushing per game and 163.4 yards passing. Quarterback Chrishard Rupert, running back Bobby Shanklin and receiver Anthony Little to lead the offense. This will be a close game, but the Tiger defense only allows 10.5 points per game led by defensive tackle Travorus Hatcher and is the difference at home.

Pick: Noxubee County 27-17

South State: Columbia (10-2) at Magee (10-0)

The Wildcats head up to Magee to face the Trojans in a 3A South State battle of Region 8-3A foes. The regular season game wasn’t played and was cancelled due to Covid-19. Magee is in the semifinal round for the first time since 2000. The Trojans are led by a potent offense that is averaging 30.3 points per game, 199.1 yards passing and 170.1 yards rushing anchored by quarterback Chandler Pittman, running back Juwan Shaw along with receivers Cayden Bridges and UCF commit Xavier Franks. The Trojan defense only allows 7.3 points per game. Columbia is averaging 25.4 points per game and is led by a fierce rushing attack that is led by quarterback Carter Smith along with running backs in Jonathan Wiltz and promising junior Omar Johnson. Defense is what the Wildcats lean on that allows only 6 points per game and is led by linebacker Greg Fortenberry and promising junior defensive tackle Jehiem Oatis. Columbia beat Magee in the third round of playoffs last year, so the Trojans get revenge at home in a close one.

Pick: Magee 28-24

CLASS 2A

North State: East Union (10-1) at Calhoun City (9-2)

Urchins head down to Calhoun City to face the Wildcats for 2A North State. Calhoun City is in the semifinal round for second time in the last three years, while East Union is in the semifinal for the first time in school history. This game will be battle of two heavy run teams and two teams that play great defense. The Wildcats is averaging 30.5 points per game and is averaging 208.7 yards per game on the ground game anchored by quarterback Jackson Lee and running back Jaylen Artberry. The Urchins are averaging 37.2 points per game and is averaging 251 yards per game rushing anchored by quarterback Rett Johnson along with running backs Colton Plunk (32 rushing touchdowns) and Hayden Frazier. The East Union defense only allows 16.9 points per game, while the Calhoun City defense gives up just 11.7 points per game. Wildcats at home.

Pick: Calhoun City 27-20

South State: Enterprise-Clarke (10-1) at Taylorsville (12-1)

The Bulldogs head over to Taylorsville to face the Tartars in a 2A South State matchup of Region 5-2A foes. Taylorsville won the regular season matchup 33-28 where the Tartars scored the go-ahead touchdown on a fourth down play with under a minute to go in the game. The Tartars, the defending 2A state champion, is led by a potent offense that averages 34.9 points per game, 215.8 yards per game anchored by quarterback and Tulane commit Ty Keyes along with receivers Tyrese Keys, Cedrick Beavers and Arteriousa Miller. Running backs Travis Keyes and Jeffrey Pittman led a rushing attack that is averaging 166.2 yards per game. The Bulldogs are in the semifinal round for the first time since 2007. Enterprise is averaging 32.2 points per game that is led by a potent ground game that averages 303.4 yards per game anchored by quarterback Derryon Gray along with running backs Kristian Milsap, Ridge Kdd and John Campbell. This game could be close once again, but the Tartar offense just too much.

Pick: Taylorsville 36-30

CLASS 1A

North State: Biggersville (12-0) at Nanih Waiya (11-0)

It will be a battle of two run-heavy teams as the Lions head down to Nanih Waiya to face the Warriors in 1A North State battle of unbeatens. Nanih Waiya, the two-time defending 1A state champions, is anchored by a ground game that averages 294.6 led by quarterback Tanner Courtney along with running backs Austin Sanders and Tyquan McCully. The Warrior defense only allows 12.2 points per game and the Warriors have the state’s longest active winning streak at 26 games. The Lions are in the semifinal round for the first time in school history and are averaging 42.9 points per game offensively and is led by a potent rushing attack that averaged 270.3 yards per game anchored by quarterback Drew Rowsey along with running back Goldman Butler (22 rushing touchdowns). The Biggersville defense only gives up 6.4 points per game. This will be a close game, but Warriors hard to beat at home.

Pick: Nanih Waiya 21-20

South State: Simmons (8-1) at Lumberton (10-1)

Blue Devils make the long trip down to Lumberton to face the Panthers for 1A South State. This is Simmons fifth time in the last six years to reach the semifinal round, while Lumberton is back in the semifinals for a second straight year. The Panthers are averaging 34.5 points per game and is anchored by a potent ground game that averages 284.5 yards per game led by do-it-all Robert Henry along with Rodney Parker and Shavante Toney. Receiver K’Nylan Willis is one to watch on the outside for Lumberton. Simmons is averaging 41.5 points per game and is also led by a rushing attack that averages 256.7 yards per game led by quarterback Devonte Rush along with running backs Vontrez Rush and Jermaine Edwards. The Panther defense only gives up 7.2 points per game and is the difference at home in a close one.

Pick: Lumberton 30-27