Bassfield’s state-best 21-game winning streak aside, the Yellow Jackets couldn’t compete against the state’s elite teams from larger classifications.
Or could they?
Lance Mancuso is among the believers, although he’s quick to point out that’s for others to debate.
“We feel our best 11 on each side of the ball are as good as any,” Mancuso said of his Class 2A team.
Skeptical? He has five FBS recruits and that winning streak to back his claim.
Of course, you can find out for yourself this week, when Bassfield, ranked No. 10 in The Clarion-Ledger Super 10, travels Friday to battle Jackson Prep in Flowood.
It’s the first leg of a home-and-home series between the Yellow Jackets (5-0) and Patriots, who will travel to Bassfield next season.
Prep isn’t exactly perennial power South Panola or top-ranked Brandon, but it’s a formidable opponent.
The Patriots’ only loss this season came on the road in Week 1 — 32-20 loss to Class 5A Oxford, which is ranked No. 8 in the Super 10.
“They’ve got athletes all over the place,” Prep coach Ricky Black said.
Those athletes include a pair of 2014 Ole Miss commits, twins Alvin and Calvin Moore, two Southern Miss commits, Cornell Armstrong and Curtis Mikell, and safety Jamal Peters, who is widely regarded as one of the top prospects in the class of 2015, regardless of position.
“There’s a couple things you look for to see if a team can compete at any level,” Black said. “That’s good offense, defense and coaches, and Bassfield has all three.”
Black would know. After all, he’s accumulated the fourth-most wins in Mississippi history (312) during a career that began in 1975.
Last season, Black won his 300th game when Prep shutout Class 5A Pearl 9-0 on the road. Also, the Patriots (4-1) have beaten 3A Forest, convincingly in consecutive years.
Still, neither of those teams possess the weapons of Bassfield, which edged reigning 3A champ Hazlehurst 21-20 this past week.
“This will probably be the fastest team we will play this season,” Black said.
Black sees the matchup as an opportunity.
It’s why he was quick to accept Mancuso’s proposal last year, when the Bassfield coach suggested the two teams play.
They both needed to add another football game, but they also wanted exposure.
The Yellow Jackets don’t make the 70-plus mile trip to Jackson often, unless they’re playing for a championship. Bassfield cruised to its first 16-0 season last year by beating Eupora 35-0 in the Class 2A title game.
Black knows knocking off one of the state’s top teams helps prove that teams in Mississippi’s private-school association can play, too.
“Ever since we’ve had this game on the schedule,” Black said, “there’s been a lot of talk about it.”
That won’t likely end anytime soon.