Friday Night Look Ahead: Playoffs are here; BHS hosts Natchez Thursday

Published 7:02 am Wednesday, November 1, 2023

The MAIS playoffs are in week two, the MHSAA playoffs start on Friday for schools in classifications 1A-4A and the MHSAA 5A-7A programs around the state are finishing the regular season with Thursday dates this week. Here’s a look at the local slate of games.


Brookhaven High (5-4) vs. Natchez High (5-5)

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King Field, Brookhaven

It’ll be Senior Night on King Field as the Panthers need a win over their longtime rivals from Natchez High in a game that’ll decide who finishes second in the region and hosts a MHSAA 5A playoff game next week.

Last week the Panthers went on the road to Summit and pulled out a 13-9 win over North Pike. Brookhaven High and Natchez High have identical 3-1 records in Region 3-5A. They both have a loss to division leader Florence High (7-3) on their records.

Natchez started the season with a 0-4 record after playing a tough slate that included Hancock High, McComb High, Vicksburg High and Ocean Springs.

The Bulldogs edged out North Pike 39-35 when they played on Oct. 6. Last week, the Bulldogs beat Provine High 30-18.

As per usual, the Natchez offense is stocked with playmakers as the Bulldogs are also balanced on that side of the ball.

Junior quarterback Kaden Walton has thrown for over 1,200 yards and eight touchdowns this season. Junior running back Carl McDonald Jr. is 69 yards away from reaching the 1,000-yard mark and has scored a team best 10 rushing touchdowns.

The BHS defense is a unit that has improved each week as they’ve found new playmakers by shuffling players around. Against North Pike, the Panthers got two sacks from Gaylon Gayten on the defensive line and one sack apiece from Devontavious Drummond, Eric Williams and Kenan Quinn.



MHSAA 2A Playoffs

Loyd Star (9-1) vs. Lake (4-6)

Hornet Field, Highway 550

The MHSAA 2A playoff opener between Loyd Star and Lake will be an all-Hornet affair. The red-clad Hornets from Loyd Star won the right to host this game, the second at the new football facility, by finishing first in Region 7-2A.

The green-wearing Lake Hornets, located in Scott County, finished fourth in Region 5-2A with losses to Bay Springs, Scott Central, Clarkdale and a win over Newton High.

Loyd Star already met in the 2023 softball and baseball playoffs. The Loyd Star Hornets won the softball series while their counterparts from Lake took the baseball matchup. Both series went to 3-games to decide a winner.

Lake is 5-0 all-time against Loyd Star, winning 24-6 when the schools last met in 2014. Lake also won a playoff matchup against Loyd Star in 1988, a 37-12 first round victory.

Tate Hanna is the head coach of Lake and is 43-35 in seven seasons leading the Hornets.


Bogue Chitto (5-4) at Scott Central (7-3)

Rebel Field, Forest

Depending on the route you take, it’s around 115-118 miles between Bogue Chitto and Scott Central Attendance Center, a school that sits north of I-20 near Forest.

The schools both have strong athletic traditions that go way back, but the game on Friday will be just the second time they’ve played each other. Scott Central won 26-0 in a 2003 1A second round pairing. That was the second season for Bogue Chitto head coach Gareth Sartin at the school. The 2023 season is year No. 22 for Sartin.

The school were supposed to meet in 2020, but that 2A second round pairing was forfeited by Bogue Chitto due to Covid-19 issues.

The Rebels are two-time defending 2A state champions after beating Leflore County 72-24 for the 2021 title and topping Charleston 42-12 in the 2022 state championship game. Scott Central also won the 2018 2A state title.

The 2023 Scott Central team is under the direction of first year head coach Tevin Nickols. He replaced Jeff Stockstill, who left for a job at Pass Christian High after going a combined 28-2 in his two years at SC.


MHSAA 3A Playoffs

Wesson (8-1) vs. Enterprise-Clarke (4-5)

H.L. “Hook” Stone Stadium, Wesson

Wesson wants to bounce back from its first loss of the season and make another impressive run in the 3A playoffs like it did last season.

First up is a home matchup in Stone Stadium against the Enterprise-Clarke Bulldogs. The Bulldogs and Cobras met in the second round of the 2019 2A playoffs, a 6-0 win for E-C on a bitterly cold night. Enterprise-Clarke also won the first ever matchup between the schools in the 1988 playoffs.

Enterprise-Clarke head coach Kelly Jimmerson is in his 12th year leading the Bulldog football program. The Bulldogs are coming off two straight losses (41-0 to Noxubee County and 36-35 to Kemper County).

Jimmerson’s team earned third place in Region 5-3A after beating Southeast Lauderdale and McLaurin.
Wesson and coach Jeremy Loy started the 2023 season off with eight straight wins, before a 42-12 loss last week at Jefferson County put the Cobras in second place of Region 7-3A.

MHSAA 4A Playoffs

Lawrence County (5-5) vs. Mendenhall (5-5)

Cougar Field, Monticello

Coach Jesse Anderson and his Lawrence County Cougars are facing a familiar foe in the visiting Mendenhall Tigers to start the MHSAA 4A playoffs.

The Cougars hold a 12-5 all-time advantage over the Tigers from Simpson County. LC won 56-19 when the schools last played, a 2019 playoff game at Mendenhall.

A year ago, Mendenhall went 13-2 and lost 17-14 to Louisville in the MHSAA 4A state championship game.

This season coach Chucky Allen and his MHS team started off the season with back-to-back wins over Hazlehurst and Magee, before losing to an unbeaten McComb team. The Tigers then beat 5A Florence in overtime and lost to 7A Harrison Central. Mendenhall beat Forest and Morton in division play, before closing the season with three straight defeats to Quitman, Louisville and Northeast Jones.

Offensively, Mendenhall is averaging 28 points per game, while the Lawrence County offense has averaged 37.1 points per contest.