Friday Night Lights Look-Ahead — High school football previews for area schools

Published 1:00 pm Thursday, September 30, 2021

All games begin at 7 p.m.

Brookhaven High vs. Laurel High

Brookhaven Academy vs. Hillcrest Christian (Homecoming)

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Bogue Chitto at West Lincoln

Enterprise at Bay Springs

Loyd Star vs. East Marion

Lawrence County at Forrest County AHS



Brookhaven High vs. Laurel High

7 p.m. Friday

King Field, Brookhaven

The brutal march through Region 3-5A football continues this week at Ole Brook as the Panthers are hosting their longtime rivals from Laurel High. Last week Brookhaven High went on the road to face their region mates and the defending 5A state champions at West Jones High.

This week BHS is taking on the only team that beat West Jones last season, a Laurel program that finished unbeaten in region play after an 0-3 start to the 2020 season. West Jones got revenge by knocking Laurel out of the playoffs in the second round. It all serves as a reminder that Region 3 is truly the SEC of 5A football in Mississippi.


The last time these two teams met…

These two schools have been playing each other for a very long time. The first recorded meeting between Brookhaven and Laurel went down as a 0-0 tie in 1911. Both schools were part of the Big 8 Conference that preceded the MHSAA and crowned state champions for basketball and football.

Laurel holds a 42-19 advantage in head-to-head matchups all time. The Golden Tornadoes won 34-12 last season and have won eight of the last ten games played against BHS. Twice in those ten matchups the teams have met in the playoffs with Laurel winning both of those games.


What to watch for Brookhaven High?

The West Jones defense was suffocating last week in a 26-0 win for the Mustangs as BHS trailed 23-0 after the first quarter. The Tornados will be similarly quick to the football and the Panthers will have to battle for each yard.

BHS also needs to know they can win this game. Laurel beat Mendenhall 24-21 in their season opener on Sept. 10 and then didn’t’ play again until last week, a 28-27 win at home over Minor High (Alabama). A clean game with limited turnovers and pre-snap penalties will be key for an Ole Brook offense that’s still finding its way.


What to watch for Laurel?

Second year Laurel head coach Ryan Earnest has a group that is huge up front. Malik Ellis is a 6-foot-6, 245-pound junior offensive tackle that has offers from Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Auburn among others. The other tackle spot is manned by junior Malachi Breland who clocks in at 6-foot-5, 330-pounds.

Junior quarterback Javonta Caldwell and senior receiver Tyrone Jones are a couple of the speedy Golden Tornados that BHS will try to keep from getting to the edge.



Brookhaven Academy vs. Hillcrest Christian School

7 p.m. Friday

R.M. “Red” Stuard Field, Brookhaven

Homecoming week at Brookhaven Academy culminates with a matchup against Hillcrest Christian School for coach Anthony Hart’s team. The Cougars from BA were heavy favorites over Hillcrest last season but let HCS hang around in an eventual 10-point win.

BA has non-division games at home against Hillcrest and Sylva-Bay Academy over the next two weeks. They’ll then play a non-division road game at Centreville Academy before hosting Wayne Academy in the regular season finale on Oct. 22. The winner of the game against WA will be the District 4-4A champ.


The last time these two teams met…

These two schools have played a slew of times in other sports but have not had as many football meetings as you’d think. The game this Friday will be just the sixth time they play, and Hillcrest holds a 3-2 edge.

BA won 28-18 last season in a game played at Co-Lin and 41-14 the year prior to that. HCS won the first ever meeting 12-7 in 1985. The Cougars from south Jackson then won again in games played in 1996 and 1997.


What to watch for Brookhaven Academy?

The Cougar defense created points last week in 51-28 win at Columbia Academy. Rayce Stewart picked off a pass and recovered a fumble for a touchdown along with making 4.5 tackles.

Senior lineman Carter Smith had a pair of sacks as the BA first unit defense had their team up 51-12 heading into the fourth quarter. Look for the BA coaching staff to give plenty of the younger Cougars playing time if a big lead is secured early against Hillcrest.


What to watch for Hillcrest Christian?

The Cougars are coached by former West Lincoln head coach Charlie Jackson and are 0-6 on the season. Jackson is in his first year as head of school and football coach at HCS.

Last week Hillcrest lost an absolutely wild one in Liberty that looked like a basketball score — 70-66 to Amite School Center. The Cougars also lost 42-20 at home to Enterprise earlier in the season.



West Lincoln vs. Bogue Chitto

7 p.m. Friday

Perry Miller Field, Brookhaven

It’s time for some Lincoln County on Lincoln County action as West Lincoln hosts their county rivals and Region 7-2A cohorts from Bogue Chitto. The Bobcats come in with a 4-1 record and the momentum of a two-game win streak.

West Lincoln coach Brad Bland and his team went down 20-14 last week at home to East Rankin Academy. A touchdown by the visiting Patriots with under a minute left gave them the win and keeps the Bears (0-4) hunting for their first win of the season.


The last time these two teams met…

Bogue Chitto won the first 15 meetings between the teams in a series that began when the Bears took up football in 1998. West Lincoln then won three in a row from 2015-2017.

The Bobcats now have a three-game win streak going against WL as they won 26-14 last season, 44-36 in 2019 and 55-30 in 2018.


What to watch for West Lincoln?

Sustained effort is going to be the key for West Lincoln if they’re going to get the win over the Bobcats. Against East Rankin the team would have two or three good plays followed by just that many more negative plays.

Multiple times the team had third-and-short situations foiled by pre-snap penalties. If the Bears can avoid stopping themselves, they’ll have a better chance this week at home.


What to watch for Bogue Chitto?

The Bobcat defense is playing lights out of late. They held Mize scoreless in a 7-0 win at home and last week they helped the Bobcats get past Puckett 13-7 on the road. Puckett beat West Lincoln 35-21 earlier in the season.

Look for the Bobcat defense to have their ears pinned back as they’ll focus on stopping senior running back Enrico Price. BC head coach Gareth Sartin knows is it only takes one play for Price to break off a long run, something his defense wants to stop from happening.



Loyd Star vs. East Marion

7 p.m. Friday

W.E. “Sambo” Smith Field, Brookhaven

The eyes of Region 7-2A will be on Loyd Star Friday as they welcome region newcomers East Marion to Lincoln County for the first division game for both schools. The Eagles fluctuate between the 1A class and 2A and have a strong history of winning, including a 2A state title in 2006.

From 2013-2014 East Marion played in Region 7-2A and their only division los at that time was to Bassfield. The Eagles are a combined 14-3 all time against the other four teams that make up Region 7 this season.


The last time these two teams met…

This is the third time for the schools to play each other and the Eagles are 2-0 thus far in those games previously played. The Eagles won 41-0 in 2013 and 36-6 in 2014.


What to watch for Loyd Star?

The Hornets need to hold onto the ball this Friday if they want to walk away with a win. Coach Brian Ford’s team remained unbeaten with a 33-15-win last week over Stringer, but the game was closer than it needed to be due to four lost fumbles.

The passing game has been evolving all season for the Hornets and that was evident by junior signal caller Carter Holcomb going 10-of-14 passing for 101 yards and a score. Swarming to the ball defensively will be big for Hornet defenders Bryson Walker and James Goodwin.


What to watch for East Marion?

East Marion rushed for 254 yards in a win over Jefferson County, led by senior quarterback Amere Woodham who gained 128 yards on 16 carries. Through the air Woodham attempted 15 passes and completed only five, but two of those went for scores.

Jefferson County the only win of the season for East Marion, but the Eagles haven’t had much luck playing games in 2021. Second year coach Brad Hughes team forfeited games to county rivals West Marion and Columbia to start the season. Their two on-field losses were to 6A Harrison Central and 4A Northeast Jones.



Wesson vs. Hazlehurst

7 p.m. Friday

H.L. “Hook” Stone Stadium, Wesson

It’ll be an all-Copiah County affair as Wesson and Hazlehurst get Region 6-3A play started with a highly anticipated showdown on the artificial turf of Stone Stadium. The last two games between the schools have been great ones with the winners coming from behind for the win.

It’s been a struggle for Hazlehurst to see the field this season as this will be just the second game of the year for the Indians. Hazlehurst beat Natchez 20-14 at Co-Lin on Sept. 18 after having several games cancelled due to COVID-19 issues.


The last time these two teams met…

The series is so old that it goes beyond the time of good record keeping. The first meeting between the schools was played in 1917, a 6-6 tie. Hazlehurst won games in the 1940s and 1960s and the rivalry was then dormant for many, many decades.

The recent series picked back up in 2013 when Wesson moved up to 3A and joined the same region as HHS. The Indians won four straight games from 2013-2016. A 28-21 win by Wesson at Hazlehurst broke that streak in 2019. Last season HHS got some revenge with a 30-27 win in Wesson.


What to watch for Wesson?

The Cobra defense was missing a big piece in linebacker Lane Westrope last week’s 26-18 loss at Mize. Mize was a team playing full of emotions too as their head coach Steve Bynum passed away on Thursday. Bynum was in his first year at the school and had been battling COVID-19 since August.

The Cobra air attack did have success in moving the ball against Mize as junior quarterback Will Loy went 19-of-24 for 299 yards and three touchdowns. Junior Tarayvian Miller caught three passes for 109 yards while Collin McGowen, O’mari Johnson and Justin Hailey had a touchdown catch apiece for head coach Jeremy Loy.


What to watch for Hazlehurst?

Junior running back Cameran Hawkins is a 5-foot-8 burst of speed that leads the Hazlehurst offense. Hawkins has a Division I offer from Arkansas State to his credit. Senior Qatavius Stewart is another player to watch for Hazlehurst as the 6-foot-1 receiver caught a score in the win over Natchez.

Damian Gary is in his third year as head coach at HHS. His first team went 4-7 and the Indians improved to 6-4 last season. Hazlehurst beat Southeast Lauderdale in the opening round of the 2020 playoffs before losing 22-0 to Columbia High in the second round.



Enterprise at Bay Springs

7 p.m. Friday

Bulldog Stadium, Bay Springs

Enterprise heads to Jasper County for another battle against a stout program in Region 4-1A play. The Bay Springs Bulldogs were a 2A title contender year in and out before dropping to the 1A ranks this season along with Enterprise.

Bay Springs coach Dan Brady is in his eighth season at the school and last year had his first losing campaign as the Bulldogs finished 3-6. Bay Springs is off to a 2-1 start this season though with wins over Heidelberg and Richton and a loss to a 5-0 Scott Central team.


The last time these two teams met…

This is the first ever meeting between the schools.


What to watch for Enterprise?

There were plenty of good things to be taken away from a 41-30 loss last week to Taylorsville by EAC coach Trey Woodard and his staff. The 30 points scored by the Yellow Jackets was the most given up by Taylorsville to a division foe since 2017.

Both Enterprise quarterbacks Matthew Burns and Wyatt Garrett threw touchdown passes against THS. Senior Brayden Polk added a rushing touchdown and senior Jonas “Trap” Caldwell was electric with the ball in his hands. Caldwell caught three passes for 78 yards and one score while also returning a punt 50-yard for a TD. Taylor Presley also had a receiving touchdown for Enterprise.


What to watch for Bay Springs?

The Bulldogs have good balance offensively for a 1A school. Junior quarterback Anthony Newell has efficiently thrown for six touchdowns on the season. As a team the Bulldogs have rushed for 674 yards in their three previous games.

Senior Zyon Ross is the leader of the BSHS defense as the middle linebacker. The 5-foot-11, 210-pound Ross has made 29 tackles this season including four for a loss while also recovering a pair of fumbles.



Lawrence County at Forrest County AHS

7 p.m., Friday

Henley Field, Brooklyn

The Forrest County Agricultural High School Aggies haven’t won a game on the field since Sept. 25 of 2020. The Lawrence County Cougars want to keep that streak going for at least one more week when they travel to Brooklyn to take on FCAHS in the Region 7-4A opener for both schools.

Forrest County and fourth year head coach Brad Calcote come in with a 0-5 record in 2021. The Aggies lost by one point to Seminary in their season opener and by nine last week against West Marion. LC is back in Region 7 for the first time since 2017-2018. During that period the Cougars went a combined 3-7 in the division.


The last time these two teams met…

The LC Cougars ran all over the Aggies from Brooklyn in 2018 by a 51-0 margin. It was the first win for Lawrence County in a series that’s only had three meetings to date, with the first coming in 1989 and the second not being played until the teams became region opponents in 2017.


What to watch for Lawrence County?

The Cougars battled with Tylertown all night last week before dropping a 26-14 decision to the unbeaten Chiefs. The game was tied 14-14 at halftime.

Senior running back Tommy Broomfield gave LC coach Jesse Anderson’s team a spark by running for 101 yards on 10 carries. Broomfield and quarterback Elijah Helton had a touchdown each for the Cougars. Leonard Rhymes and Dorian Taylor each picked off a pass for LC against THS.


What to watch for Forrest County AHS?

6-foot-4, 200-pound senior Avery Sledge does it all for the Aggies. Sledge is committed to continue his football career next year at Tulane. Sledge picked the Green Wave over Southern Miss and Louisiana Tech among others.

Thus far Sledge has rushed 55 times in 2021 for 574 yards and seven touchdowns. He’s also attempted 61 passes but has only connected on two touchdowns while also throwing five interceptions. Sledge has caught a touchdown as well this season.