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

Published 5:30 pm Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Loyd Star vs. Stringer

7 p.m. Friday

W.E. “Sambo” Smith Field, Brookhaven

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It’s homecoming in Hornetville as coach Brian Ford and his Loyd Star team welcome the visiting Stringer Red Devils to town.

Loyd Star lost their home game against North Forrest last week to a COVID-19 quarantine by their opponent. The Hornets will look to tune things back up this week before hosting East Marion for a huge region matchup next week on W.E. “Sambo” Smith Field.


The last time these two teams met…

A win against Stringer would be the first in school history for Loyd Star as the Red Devils have taken all four of the previous matchups.

The series started between the teams in 2015 and Stringer won the last time the teams met, 41-21 at Loyd Star in 2018.


What to watch for Loyd Star?

The Hornets (4-0) are averaging 348 rushing yards per game in their three wins on the field this season. The offense is also showing more balance as junior quarterback Carter Holcomb is throwing for 106 yards per game thus far.

Senior linebacker Brantley Walker leads the Loyd Star defense with 33 tackles this season and sophomore Caleb Smith is second on the team with 32 stops. A defensive back, Smith has shown a real nose for the football as he’s tallied one fumble recovery and two interceptions through three games. Junior Cortez Smith has also snagged an interception and recovered four fumbles.


What to watch for Stringer?

The Red Devils are a traditional 1A contender but have moved up to the 2A classification this season. It appears to be a down year in 2021 for the school as they come in with a 1-4 record (their one win came via forfeit). Those losses though were to 3A Yazoo County, 4-0 Clarkdale, 3-0 Resurrection Catholic and 4-0 Enterprise-Clarke though.

The Red Devils finished 7-5 last season under coach Morris Cascio. Cascio is in his third season as head coach at the school. Expect 6-foot-2, 200-pound junior quarterback Waylon Tullos to be one of the main cogs in the Stringer offensive attack.



West Lincoln vs. East Rankin Academy

7 p.m. Friday

Perry Miller Field, Brookhaven

West Lincoln is still searching for its first win of the season this week against the visiting East Rankin Academy Patriots.

The Bears (0-3) have battled some injuries in important positions, but coach Brad Bland and his team will be excited to play just their second home game of the season on Perry Miller Field Friday. West Lincoln is averaging just 14 points per game and will hope the confidence that comes from playing at home can jumpstart the offense.


The last time these two teams met…

This is the first ever meeting between the schools.


What to watch for West Lincoln?

Senior running back Enrico has yet to score on the ground this season for West Lincoln, despite rushing for 304 yards on 39 carries. The Bears have 10 combined turnovers in their three losses.

Holding on to the ball and having Price get into the endzone a couple times Friday is a formula for the first West Lincoln win of 2021.


What to watch for East Rankin Academy?

The Patriots (1-3) haven’t won since beating Columbia Academy 10-8 in the opener. Lat week East Rankin was blown out 43-0 by MHSAA 1A school Ethel. Ethel is coached by Loyd Star alum Adam Smith.

Coach Brad Breland led the football team at Union High for 19 years before retiring from the state system and taking the head job at East Rankin. The Patriots finished with a 1-9 record last season. The team hasn’t posted a record above .500 since the 2012 season.



Enterprise vs. Taylorsville

7 p.m. Friday

Harry Cole Field, Brookhaven

Region play is up next for the Enterprise Yellow Jackets and things get started with the powerhouse Taylorsville Tartars coming to town.

Both THS and Enterprise were 2A schools last year before both dropped into Region 4-1A for the next two seasons. There are eight teams in the region and it’s already considered the most stacked 1A division in the state.


The last time these two teams met…

The schools played back on November 6 of last year, a 55-6 win for Taylorsville in first ever meeting between the teams. That game was an MHSAA 2A playoffs first round game. Taylorsville went on to win the 2A championship with a 42-0 blowout of Calhoun City as they finished 13-1 on the season.


What to watch for Enterprise?

In his third season as head coach, Trey Woodard has his Yellow Jackets (2-2) throwing and catching the ball better than any team from the school in recent history.

Senior receiver Jonas “Trap” Caldwell has hauled in 12 passes for 272 yards and two scores. Senior receiver Taylor Presley has also caught two touchdown passes. Senior Bryaden Polk has a team high 18 catches through three games. Freshman Wyatt Garrett and senior Matthew Burns have both seen time at the quarterback position for the Jackets this season.


What to watch for Taylorsville?

The Tartars have an 0-2 record with their losses coming to 3A Raleigh and 4A Lawrence County. While this looks like a down year for the Tartars so far, the team will still play a physical style of football.

Like EAC, Taylorsville has a very young team in 2021 with 11 freshmen on the roster. There are also eight 8th-graders on the Tartar varsity team for first year head coach Jay Blackledge.



Lawrence County vs. Tylertown

7 p.m. Friday

LCHS Football Field, Monticello

Lawrence County head coach Jesse Anderson and his team want to knock the Tylertown Chiefs from the ranks of the unbeaten this week in Monticello.

It’ll be homecoming in Monticello as well so expect a large crowd as the event usually brings with it tailgating, tents and grills putting off smoke in the parking lots that surround the field at LCHS.


The last time these two teams met…

The all-time series between these teams is tied at eight wins apiece. Tylertown has won four in a row though and eight of the last ten games played against the Cougars. The Chiefs won 39-7 when the teams last played way back in 20012 at Tylertown.


What to watch for Lawrence County?

There is no greater detriment to the LC offense than pre-snap penalties on the offense. If the Cougars (3-1) get to third and short, you always like their chances to pick up the first down via their double wing offense.

A delay of game or false start penalty and the resulting five-yard loss hurts the Cougars more than most teams and it’s something that Anderson wants his team to avoid. The plan is for Lawrence County to put together long, grinding drives that keep the potent Tylertown offense on the sideline.


What to watch for Tylertown?

Watch the ball, because whatever Chief has it in his hands can probably fly. THS beat South Pike 22-0 last week to move to 4-0 on the season. The game against South Pike was stopped in the third quarter after reported gunshots outside the THS football field.

Tylertown quarterback Amerion Jefferson knows where his top target Jeremiah Dillon is at all times. Dillon is committed to Ole Miss and had two touchdown grabs against South Pike last week.



Bogue Chitto at Puckett

7 p.m. Friday

PHS Football Field, Puckett

The Bogue Chitto Bobcats are heading to the town of 300 good, friendly folks and a few old soreheads to take on the Puckett Wolves. The matchup in Rankin County will be the final non-region game for coach Gareth Sartin’s Bobcats (3-1) before they play at county rivals West Lincoln next week.

Puckett beat West Lincoln 35-21 in Flea Hop before suffering its first loss of the season last week by a 6-0 final to Richton. Puckett coach Jason Goodwin has seen his team give up just eight points a game thus far in 2021.


The last time these two teams met…

Puckett held off the Bobcats 20-14 last season in Bogue Chitto on September 18. The teams were scheduled to meet again in the first round of the playoffs, but Puckett was forced to forfeit due to a COVID-19 quarantine. BC last beat Puckett on the field in 1999, its final win in a four-game streak in a series that Puckett holds an 11-5 advantage in.


What to watch for Bogue Chitto?

The Bobcat defense put in a yeomen effort in a 7-0 win over Mize last week. Senior Felder Sartin picked off a pass and fellow senior Elijah Cupit recovered a fumble for the Bobcats. Senior linebacker Colten Bales was named Daily Leader Defensive Player of the week after making 12 tackles — four for a loss.

Cupit chipped in 10 total tackles and Easton Sartin added 11 stops of his own. A 52-yard touchdown run by Cameron Williams was the difference in the game. BC carried the ball 26 times as a team and rushed for 138 yards in the win. A little more offense will be needed to beat Puckett but expect another strong showing from the BC defense.


What to watch for Puckett?

The Wolves (3-1) are going to spread the opposing defense out. Puckett threw for long scores and ripped off big runs in their win over West Lincoln. Senior Jacorian Fletcher is one of the offensive bell-cows for the Wolves.

Fletcher can carry the ball on a handoff but is also strong at catching the ball when split wide. Fletcher is also a defensive back who picked off a pass against West Lincoln. Slowing him down and gang tackling will be a key for the Bobcats.



Brookhaven Academy at Columbia Academy

7 p.m. Friday

James E. Pope Football Field, Columbia

It’ll be a MAIS District 4-4A matchup for Brookhaven Academy Friday when they travel to play the Columbia Academy Cougars.

Playing a school of similar size is a welcomed change for the Cougars after they took a 45-7 loss last week to the 5A Copiah Academy Colonels. BA coach Anthony Hart’s team is 1-0 in district play after getting a forfeit win over Bowling Green. Wayne Academy is the other member of the four-team district.


The last time these two teams met…

Brookhaven Academy took a 43-36 win last season at Columbia and that victory broke a three game win streak for the orange-clad Cougars in the series. BA leads in head-to-head matchups 19-11 as the team’s first played in 1982.


What to watch for Brookhaven Academy?

The Cougars (3-2) want to show off a balanced offense and put together some sustained drives against Columbia. BA has shown at times this season that they can dial up a big play, whether it be a long throw from Tyler Fortenberry or a long run by the senior quarterback.

Friday they’ll hope to get the running game going after rushing for just 58 yards on 19 carries against Copiah. Senior John Rivers Brown had the long carry of the night for 14 yards last week and a big game from him would be a good omen for the rest of the season.


What to watch for Columbia Academy?

Senior Kris Ginn is the unquestioned leader of the Columbia Academy (1-5) offensive scheme. Ginn has rushed for 634 yards and eight touchdowns through six games in 2021.

First year Columbia head coach TC Chambliss has seen his team face some stiff competition over the last few weeks. CA beat Amite School Center in the season opener before losing 13-6 to Silliman Institute and 10-8 to East Rankin Academy the following weeks. Over the last three games they’ve lost badly to bigger opponents in Presbyterian Christian (35-6), Pillow Academy (48-6) and Oak Forest Academy (49-6).



Brookhaven High at West Jones

7 p.m., Friday

WJ Football Field, Soso

Fresh off their first win of the season, the Brookhaven High Panthers are hitting Highway 84 and heading east to face their longtime foes from West Jones High School. It’s the opening game Region 3-5A play for both teams.

The Mustangs are 2-1 after blowing out Wingfield (38-0) and Northeast Jones (28-2). The lone blemish for West Jones was a 27-21 loss to Madison Central in the season opener. MC jumped ahead 21-0 that night before West Jones came back to tied things up at 21-21 in the third quarter.


The last time these two teams met…

The teams didn’t meet on the field last season due to a COIVD-19 cancellation and the Mustangs from Jones County have won three in a row in the series. Ole Brook won three of their own in a row from 2015-2017. The teams have played each other four times in the postseason with Brookhaven memorably losing 31-0 to West Jones in the 2010 regular season, only to then beat WJ 27-26 that same year in the 5A semifinals.


What to watch for Brookhaven High?

The Ole Brook defense looked improved in their second game of 2021 to get the win over McComb last week. The Panthers don’t have big cornerbacks or tall safeties, but they flew to the ball and created turnovers throughout the game.

Keeping that same energy will be huge as West Jones is a team that puts pressure on opposing defenses by getting fast players the ball while in space. Tackling as a team, wrapping up and not giving West Jones players yards after contact will be one of the biggest keys for the Panthers defensively.


What to watch for West Jones?

The Mustangs are defending 5A state champs and chunked the ball all over the field during the last few seasons with Alan Follis under center. Follis led the team to the title last season and is now a freshman on the football team at Jones College.

His replacement is Marlon Lindsey, but the tone setter for WJ coach Scott Pierson is his Mustang (2-1) defense. Senior linebacker Ken Russell is the leading tackler on the team and is the typical, physical defender that West Jones turns out year after year. The Mustangs only gave up 185 yards of total offense in their loss to Madison Central.



Wesson at Mize

7 p.m., Friday

Charles Ray Lee Field, Mize

Coach Jeremy Loy and his Wesson Cobras are looking to bounce back this week in a matchup against the Mize Bulldogs. Last week Wesson jumped out early in their homecoming matchup with Lumberton, before the Panthers came roaring back to take a win.

The season kicks into high gear next week for Wesson as they begin region play by hosting their country rivals from Hazlehurst. The Cobras will then host a tough Raleigh team before going on the road to Crystal Springs and then defending 3A champs Magee. Loy wants his team as healthy as possible heading into that grind of division play.


The last time these two teams met…

Wesson and Mize have met 25 times since beginning their series in 1972. The Bulldogs from Smith County hold an 18-7 advantage in head-to-head meetings. Mize won 14-12 in 2019 at Wesson while the Cobras took a 27-0 victory the season before. They schools have also met in the playoffs twice with Mize winning both those games in 2006 and 2009.


What to watch for Wesson?

WAC junior quarterback Will Loy hasn’t had a huge game thus far in 2021 as he’s averaging 142 yards passing per game. Loy has tossed six scores and four interceptions thus far in 2021.

Wesson (2-2) doesn’t need Loy to throw for 350 yards per game to win but stepped-up production by the receiving corps will make a win at Mize come a little easier. Junior Tarayvian Miller has caught 10 passes for 240 yards and four scores this season while junior Justin Hailey has hauled in 11 passes for 184 yards through four games.


What to watch for Mize?

The Bulldogs have had size on the offensive line of late and this season their big senior is 6-foot-5, 275-pound lineman Eli Tuggle. Last year Tuggle’s brother Trey played for the Bulldogs before signing to suit up for the Tulane Green Wave.

Expect Mize (0-2) and first year head coach Steve Bynum to keep the ball on the ground. The Bulldogs will line up in a double wing offense and look to give the ball to a rotating group of backs.