Friday Night Lights Look-Ahead — High School Football Previews for Area Schools

Published 4:00 pm Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Brookhaven High School vs. McComb High

7 p.m. Friday

King Field, Brookhaven

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Three-hundred-sixteen days have passed since the Ole Brook faithful have seen their Panthers play on King Field. The drought ends Friday when Brookhaven High takes on their ancient rivals from Pike County, the McComb High Tigers.

It’s week four of the regular season for MHSAA football teams, but the Panthers will be playing just their second game of the season while this will be the opener for McComb. The Tigers lost games against Hattiesburg, Jim Hill and Holmes County Central to COVID-19 related cancellations.

The last time these two teams met…

The schools began playing each other in 1920, but 2020 didn’t see a tackle made or a pass thrown in the series. Just before the beginning of the game last season in McComb, a severe line of thunderstorms moved in and sat over the area.

Lightning strikes made the game unplayable and Brookhaven High got back on the bus and headed back north without snapping a ball. The Panthers won a thriller 21-13 at home in 2019 and have won four straight games in the series and 12 of the last 15 meetings between the schools. However, McComb holds a 61-37 advantage in all-time head-to-head matchups.


What to watch for Brookhaven High?

Look for the Panthers to be sharper in their execution when they hit King Field Friday night. Ole Brook lost their opener last week 32-22 to a good Tylertown team, but coach Tucker Peavey and his staff know the Panthers did themselves no favors with a slow start in the first half.

There is no substitute for live, game action when a team is trying to get better. BHS lost their scrimmage and first two regular season games to COVID-19 related cancellations. Expect BHS to block, tackle, catch and run better now that they’ve got a game under their belts.


What to watch for McComb High?

You won’t have to scan the field too many times before you’ll notice McComb senior Jameer Lewis. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Lewis leapt onto the radar of colleges around the south during the spring.

Lewis currently holds offers from Arkansas State, South Alabama, Coastal Carolina and Louisiana Tech, among others. McComb is breaking in a new quarterback, so how much impact Lewis will have in the passing game as a tight end is still to be determined. Where he’ll most likely make the biggest difference is as a disrupter at defensive end for McComb coach Willie Brown.



Brookhaven Academy vs. Copiah Academy

7 p.m. Friday

R.M. “Red” Stuard Field, Brookhaven

The Cougars are making their on-campus debut in week five of the MHSAA regular season after having their opener on the campus of Co-Lin for the KDMC Kickoff Classic. BA played at Co-Lin or on the road for much of the 2020 season in order to allow for bigger crowds and more room for fans to spread out.

Last season BA played on Stuard Field just once, in their regular season finale against Bowling Green on a Thursday night. Expect the hillsides that bowl the stadium in to be filled with Cougar fans wearing blue and white, sitting in camping chairs to see Copiah Academy make the short trip to Brookhaven.


The last time these two teams met…

The MAIS tells their football teams who they’ll play each year, and it would make sense for Copiah Academy and BA to get together more often. Parklane Academy is the only MAIS team closer to Brookhaven Academy, but the Pioneers of Pike County are one of the six biggest schools in the entire association, while Copiah and BA have more similar sized enrollments.

Copiah beat the Cougars 43-7 back in 2015 when the teams last played. The next season was the injury shortened 2016 campaign for BA and Copiah Academy was one of the games forfeited by the Cougars when they ran out of healthy players. The series goes back to 1975 with the Colonels holding a slight 19-18 edge in wins during that time.


What to watch for Brookhaven Academy?

The Cougar defense gave up 27 points in the first half last week at St. Aloysius but buckled down after that to pitch a second half shutout. It was the defense that got the game winning score via an interception return for a score by Trevor Fortenberry.

Jackson Porter led the defense with 7.5 tackles including four for a loss. Tyler Shann had a sack as well and Collins Burns made a tackle for a loss for the Cougars. Senior Trenton Tarver was second on the team with 6.5 stops last week. The Colonels have been strong at moving the ball this season and will be a big test for coach Anthony Hart’s Cougar defense.


What to watch for Copiah Academy?

This game used to be dubbed The Goat Bowl as a recurring prank between the schools involved leaving a goat tied up at the opponent’s doorstep began in 2006. Copiah head coach Billy Hankins is in his second season in Gallman after building Simpson Academy into a perennial state title contender earlier in his career.

Harkins has a 122-28 all-time record as a head coach, and the Colonels were 7-4 last season before being knocked out in the first round of the MAIS 5A playoffs. Copiah started this season down 18-0 to Madison-St. Joe in the season opener. CA won that game 34-19 and have a balanced, explosive offense thus far in 2021.



Bogue Chitto vs. Mize

7 p.m. Friday

Troy Smith Field, Bogue Chitto

The opening portion of the Bogue Chitto schedule has been easy on the gas tanks of the most loyal Bobcat fans. BC opened the season hosting Pisgah and Mount Olive before making a short road trip to their county rivals from Enterprise last week.


The Bobcats are back on Troy Smith Field this week when they host the Mize Bulldogs from Smith County. It’s Mize this week and a trip to Puckett next week before Bogue Chitto begins Region 7-2A play against West Lincoln on Oct. 1.


The last time these two teams met…

Mize last traveled to play at Bogue Chitto during the 2019 season — a 47-3 win for the Bulldogs. The series started in 1987 and Mize has won all nine of the previous matchups.

The 2001 game was close with Mize winning 22-18. Other than that, the games have often been big wins by Mize — the Bulldogs won those nine games by an average score of 25 points.


What to watch for Bogue Chitto?

Bogue Chitto head coach Gareth Sartin wasn’t pleased with how his team played last week in a 38-20 win over Enterprise. The Bobcats fumbled on the opening play of the game as Enterprise returned that ball for a touchdown and led 12-7 after the first quarter.

The head Bobcat wants a cleaner, more focused start for his team this week. BC has an offensive line that’s beginning to gel, a deep group of skills players and great special teams play for a 2A program. Now in his 20th year as head coach — Sartin knows none of those things matter when a team lacks focus.


What to watch for Mize?

Like the other school located in Smith County, Mize had a long shutdown as COVID-19 issues within the district forced a quarantine. Last week they lost their opener 35-0 to Enterprise-Clarke.

Kenny Robinson led Mize football for 22 years — winning two state titles during that time — until the 2018 season. He was succeeded by Chuck Lee for the next two years. 2021 is the first season for new coach Steven Bynum. Bynum was last a head coach at 4A Quitman in 2018 and was defensive coordinator last season at Petal.



Wesson vs. Lumberton

7 p.m. Friday

H.L. “Hook” Stone Stadium, Wesson

The Cobras are lifting the lid on homecoming this week as they’re the first school in the area to host the event in 2021. The week leading up to the game will be fun for students as it’s a time for making memories, especially for seniors.
The game on Friday should be the main event though as Wesson and Lumberton looks like a stout matchup on paper. 1A Lumberton is 0-2, but their two games have been against 4A teams from Lawrence County and Poplarville.


The last time these two teams met…

Both of the prior matchups between Lumberton and Wesson were playoff games. The Panthers won 36-32 in 2002 to knock a 10-2 Wesson team out of the MHSAA 2A playoffs in the second round.

The schools played again in the 2005 first round and this time Lumberton won 54-14 on their home field. That Lumberton team finished 14-0 and won the 2A state championship by scoring 40 points per game and giving up just five points per contest. They held their opponent under seven points in 11 of 14 games that season.


What to watch for Wesson?

The Cobras gutted out a gritty win last week against Wilkinson County at home. Wesson led 14-12 after three quarters on the way to a 30-26 victory. Junior quarterback Will Loy threw two touchdowns and senior running back Collin McGowan powered his way to 161 yards rushing on 26 carries.

Coming off a week in which he won The Daily Leader Offensive Player of the Week, McGowen scored two touchdowns on the ground for Wesson coach Jeremy Loy. Look for more of McGowen powering the Cobra ground game against what will be physical Lumberton defense.


What to watch for Lumberton?

The Panthers are the defending MHSAA 1A state champions. Senior quarterback Rodney Parker has run for 155 yards this season to lead the Lumberton offense. Parker has attempted just eight passes through two games.

Senior running back Shavante Toney is the other main ball carrier for coach Jonathan Ladner. Lumberton hasn’t started a season with an 0-3 record since 2015.



West Lincoln at McLaurin

7 p.m. Friday

MAC Football Field, Star

Someone is getting their first win of the season when West Lincoln and McLaurin meet up in Rankin County Friday night. West Lincoln began the season at Sacred Heart and hosted Puckett last week and those two schools are a combined 6-0 on the season thus far.


The trip to McLaurin and the headache that comes with dealing with Highway 49 traffic on a Friday evening will be made more palatable if West Lincoln can bring a win back home to Flea Hop.


The last time these two teams met…

Surprisingly, this is the first ever game between the two schools. They do have a common opponent this season in Puckett. McLaurin hosted Puckett in the season opener and lost 21-6.

West Lincoln faced Puckett last week at home and saw the Wolves win 35-21.


What to watch for West Lincoln?

This is the game where Enrico Price gets loose. The senior running back ran for 168 yards last week on 16 rushes against Puckett but didn’t score a touchdown in a 35-21 loss. Quarterback Ashtin Auttonberry ran for two scores while Landon Burgess added a kickoff return TD for coach Brad Bland.
A 200-yard rushing night by Price plus100-yards on the ground from Auttonberry would be the type of performances that’ll lead to the first West Lincoln win of 2021.


What to watch for McLaurin?

The Tigers have struggled to score this season, getting one touchdown each in losses to Puckett and Richland and two scores in a loss to Loyd Star. McLaurin and coach Sid Wheatley aren’t going to throw the ball and the team is averaging 200 rushing yards per game.

The West Lincoln defense will look to shut down the McLaurin ground game and hand the Tigers their 21st straight loss.



Enterprise at Amite School Center

7 p.m. Friday

ASC Field, Liberty

Enterprise will face their second MAIS opponent of the season Friday when they make the trip to Liberty to take on the Amite School Center Rebels. EAC beat Hillcrest Christian on the road in their season opener — the first time a public school from Lincoln County has ever played a Mississippi-based member of the MAIS.

ASC Head of School John Knight is no stranger to the Jackets though. Knight was the head boys’ basketball coach at Enterprise for a number of years before heading back home to lead his alma mater in Liberty.


The last time these two teams met…

This is the first ever meeting between the schools.


What to watch for Enterprise?

Freshman quarterback Wyatt Garrett had success throwing the ball last week in his first career start. Garrett completed 17-of-22 passes for 140 yards. Garrett also rushed for a touchdown as did senior Matthew Burns.
Burns started the week one victory over Hillcrest Christian at quarterback. Enterprise coach Trey Woodard may choose to mix and match his quarterbacks as the season progresses. Last season Burns and Lawson Chemin split snaps at quarterback as Woodard focused on putting each in sets that best showed off their strengths.


What to watch for ASC?

The Rebels are 0-5 on the season with one of those losses coming via forfeit, but they also really haven’t played a school close to their size. They lost 42-14 to a bigger Columbia Academy and 45-26 to a bigger Clinton Christian Academy. The Rebels also lost 48-14 to a bigger Central Hinds Academy and all three of those games were played on the road.

Last week ASC played at home for the first time this season, a game they narrowly lost 26-24 to a 3-0 Sacred Heart team. Dan Ware is in his first season as head coach at Amite. The last season with an above .500 record for the Rebels came in 2000 when the team finished 10-3.



Lawrence County at Taylorsville

7 p.m., Friday

THS Field, Taylorsville

The Lawrence County Cougar caravan won’t have too far to travel Friday night as they’ll hit Highway 37 North after passing through Collins and find themselves in Smith County in           quick hour drive.

The town of Taylorsville only has around 1,200 residents and isn’t much more than a wide spot in the road. What the Tartars are known for is football though as the school is one of the all-time great high school football programs in Mississippi history.


The last time these two teams met…

This is the first ever meeting between the schools.


What to watch for Lawrence County?

Lawrence County head coach Jesse Anderson has plenty of options when he’s deciding who’ll run the ball for the Cougars in their double wing set. Three weeks into the season it appears that one of those backs is going to see his usage go up as the season progresses.

Sophomore Ahmad Hardy came into the season as a linebacker who’d see some carries for the offense as a fullback. He may soon be a fullback who plays a little linebacker as Hardy ran like a wrecking ball last week in a 34-20 loss to Natchez High. Hardy ran through contact, shrugged off tacklers and needed a new jersey at halftime after having bunches of Bulldogs try and fail to pull him down over the first two quarters.


What to watch for Taylorsville?

Head coach Mitch Evans left for Seminary in February. Evans won two state titles as a player at the school, another as offensive coordinator and two more as the head coach in 2019 and 2020. The Tartars are back down in 1A for at least the next two years as Petal assistant Jay Blackledge was hired to replace Evans.

Last week Taylorsville made their season debut and were beaten 44-7 by their county rivals Raleigh. The Tartars shouldn’t be overlooked though as they’ve still got playmakers despite the loss. Senior linebacker Kelby Jordan and senior corner Dereco Crosby are two fast, physical leaders for THS.




Loyd Star vs. North Forrest

Cancelled due to COVID-19