Fright night look ahead: Wesson, Loyd Star renewing old rivalry

Published 10:00 am Wednesday, August 30, 2023

It’ll be another Friday filled with local viewing options for high school football fans that might find themselves hunting for a game to watch this weekend. Brookhaven Academy, Brookhaven High, Bogue Chitto, Loyd Star and West Lincoln all have home games on Friday in the third week of the season for MAIS teams and the second week of the regular season for MHSAA programs.

Wesson (1-0) at Loyd Star (1-0)

7 p.m., W.E. “Sambo” Smith Field, Hwy. 550

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For 45-straight seasons, Loyd Star and Wesson met on the football field. The rivalry began in 1968 when Wesson was still called Copiah-Lincoln High School and Loyd Star was just three years into fielding a football team.

The streak of consecutive years played ended in 2013, but it’s recently picked back up with the schools playing four years straight from 2017-2020.

The rivalry might have peaked from 1995-2001. Loyd Star won six regular season games in a row during that time including a memorable 3-0 overtime victory in 1999.

The schools played in the same 2A region and in 2001 the Cobras snapped the LS winning streak, only to have the Hornets beat them 35-7 in the third round of the MHSAA postseason.

This one is a non-region game as Wesson is now 3A while Loyd Star is firmly entrenched in the 2A ranks. Wesson has won seven games in a row in the series with a 27-point average margin of victory during that time.

The game will be played on W.E. “Sambo” Smith Field as the new Loyd Star football complex is still under construction and will likely be so throughout the remainder of the regular season.

There won’t be a bigger test faced by the Loyd Star defensive backfield than the one posed this week by Wesson. The Cobras have a deep group of receivers that can flat out fly. Sophomore O’Mari Johnson, junior Deshawn Smith and senior Kaleb Chase all had one touchdown catch apiece against Bogue Chitto last week in a 53-20 victory.

Junior quarterback Cole Gipson went 9-of-13 passing for 170 yards and three touchdowns for Wesson against BC. Additionally, junior Wyatt Garrett added another 78 passing yards on a 6-of-8 performance.

The passing game was working so well because the running game was also clicking for Wesson in the season opener. Senior running back Zevante Stapleton missed his entire junior season to a leg injury. In the first game of his senior season Stapleton produced 137 yards on 14 carries and scored three touchdowns.

Keeping a rotation of fresh players on the field, especially in the defensive backfield, is going to be key for Loyd Star coach Adam Smith and his staff.

Like any small school, the Hornets have a lot of guys who go both ways and you could see fatigue start to set in during the second half of their opener against Enterprise. LS led 23-0 before having to score a touchdown in the final minute of a 35-32 win.

Franklin County (0-1) at Brookhaven High (1-0)

7 p.m., King Field, Brookhaven

Franklin County and Brookhaven High is another throwback to a pairing that was played often over the years and is back on the calendar in 2023.

The FC Bulldogs are coming off a 41-8 home loss to North Pike. Former West Lincoln head coach BJ Smithhart is in his fifth season as the head man at Franklin County. Last season the Bulldogs finished 6-5 and made the 3A playoffs.

The 5A Brookhaven Panthers are 13-3 all time against Franklin County. FC beat BHS 20-6 in 2015 and the Panthers bounced back to get a 21-13 victory in 2016, which was the last time these two schools met.

Developing the passing game is something BHS coach Tucker Peavey will look to see more of from his team as they play a second straight week on King Field.

Last week in a 34-20 win over Lawrence County, sophomore signal caller Dreamus Harron went 4-of-9 passing for 41 yards.

One area where the Brookhaven High defense showed strength against Lawrence County was the overall depth of the unit. The Panthers were able to rotate players in and out, especially on the defensive line, and got some of their best defensive play late in the game.

Oak Forest Academy (1-1) at Brookhaven Academy (0-2)

7 p.m., R.M. “Red” Stuart Field, Brookhaven

Brookhaven Academy sprinted out to a big lead against Centreville Academy last week, before the Tigers came roaring back to pick up a 32-21 win.

Senior quarterback Samuel Evans had a game to remember in his first varsity start as the signal caller. Evans went 9-of-12 for 192 yards through the air and also picked up 119 yards rushing on 11 carries while scoring twice on the ground.

Cramps, fatigue and a couple lost fumbles ended up being too much for the Cougars to overcome as Centreville had more depth up front that allowed them to use fewer players on both sides of the ball.

Oak Forest Academy started the season off with a 40-15 win over East Rankin Academy. The Yellow Jackets from Amite, Louisiana are in the same MAIS 5A classification as BA.

Last week, OFA got a taste of playing up and suffered a 49-7 loss to 6A power Madison-Ridgeland Academy.

Salem (0-1) at Bogue Chitto (0-1)

7 p.m., Troy Smith Field, Hwy. 51

Bogue Chitto and coach Gareth Sartin want to keep Salem’s losing streak going a week longer when the longtime opponents meet on Troy Smith Field. Salem is currently nursing a 29-game losing streak after losing 29-19 last week against McLaurin.

The all-time series between the schools is nearly split down the middle as Salem has won 26 games against BC and the Bobcats have won 28 times against the Wildcats from Walthall County.

The Bobcats are gunning for a fourth straight victory in the series.

Last week in a loss to Wesson, BC got a big night from senior running back Easton Sartin. Playing in the first game since a knee injury cut out most of his junior season, Sartin carried the ball 17 times for 180 yads and three scores. Lineman Marshall Hart led the BC defense with 11 tackles against Wesson.

Sacred Heart (1-0) at West Lincoln (0-1)

7 p.m., Perry Miller Field, Flea Hop

Another week, another matchup with a parochial school for the West Lincoln Bears. This week the Sacred Heart Crusaders from Hattiesburg will invade Flea Hop.

This week it’s Catholics, last week it was Episcopalians as the opponents as West Lincoln lost 24-3 on the road at St. Andrew’s.

The game was tied at 3-3 at halftime before St. Andrew’s won the game in the second half.

The 1A Crusaders and 2A Bears have met 11 times with West Lincoln holding a 6-5 advantage.

Sacred Heart coach Ed Smith is in his fifth year at the school and the Crusaders started the season out last week with a 28-13 win over Saint Patrick of Biloxi. Sacred Heart is trying to win a third straight game over West Lincoln after beating the Bears 33-10 last season on Perry Miller Field.

Enterprise (0-1) at St. Andrew’s (1-0)

7 p.m., Roger W. Stribling Field, Ridgeland

St. Andrew’s Episcopal is hosting another Lincoln County foe when Enterprise invades a week after West Lincoln faced the Saints.

Senior quarterback Friend Walker went 10-of-24 against West Lincoln last week for SAE. Walker threw for 172 yards, one interception and rushed for two scored while getting 55 yards on seven carries.

EAC will counter with junior quarterback Landon McNickles, who accounted for 207 yards of total offense last week in a close loss to Loyd Star.

The Yellow Jackets are 0-8 all time against the Saints. St. Andrew’s won the last meeting 55-14 in 2012.

Lawrence County (0-1) at Jefferson Davis County (1-0)

7 p.m., JDC Football Field, Bassfield

Lawrence County will have to bounce back quickly from a 34-20 loss at Brookhaven High as they’re facing a formable foe on the road in the Jefferson Davis County Jaguars.

If you haven’t driven down Highway 42 lately, you’ve missed out on seeing some big-time facility improvements on the campus that formally housed Bassfield and is now home to JDC.

A new field house, new scoreboard and new bleachers are a reflection of the place that Jefferson Davis County holds a perennial 3A state title contender.

Since Bassfield and Prentiss consolidated to create JDC in 2017, coach Lance Mancuso has won three MHSAA 3A titles (2017, 2019, 2021) at the school.

It would appear that the Jaguars have reloaded as they went on the road last week and beat 4A power Poplarville 32-14 in their season opener.