MADISON CENTRAL (9-5) AT STARKVILLE (12-1)
Madison Central looks to pull another upset in a game nobody thought they’d be in three weeks ago. The Yellowjackets defeated the Jaguars 28-10 on Oct. 16, but Madison Central hasn’t lost since, and has held all five of their opponents to 14 or fewer points. That includes a 14-8 win over then-No. 1 South Panola. Starkville blew out Olive Branch (46-24) and Clinton (45-27) to get here. CL says: Starkville 28-14.
Meridian (8-5) at Petal 9-4)
Both teams come into Friday night having survived barn-burners last weekend. Meridian defeated Oak Grove 35-29 and Petal upset Brandon 35-30. The Wildcats have started to resemble the team everyone thought they’d be at the beginning of the season, and will try to avenge their 28-27 loss to the Panthers on Oct. 23. Petal has won six straight since opening the season 3-4. C-L says: Meridian 28-27.
West Point (11-2) at Oxford (11-2)
The 5A North State final features a rematch from Sept. 25, when the Chargers dispatched the Green Wave 50-28. West Point hasn’t lost since, and only allowed 16 points total in its last five games. Oxford quarterback Jack Abraham has thrown for 708 yards and seven touchdowns in the Chargers’ first two playoff games while Green Wave quarterback Marcus Murphy has accounted for six post-season TDs. C-L says: Oxford 35-17.
Wayne County (10-3) at Laurel (10-3)
The Golden Tornadoes earned the right to host the South State final by defeating the War Eagles 19-13 in both teams’ regular-season finale in Laurel. Wayne County rolled over Picayune and Pearl River Central in its first two playoff games. It’s unclear whether Wayne County has found anyone that can cover Laurel receiver Octavious Cooley (nine catches for 158 yards in the first meeting), but they’ve had three weeks to try. C-L says: Laurel 22-16.
Noxubee County (10-4) at Greenwood (12-1)
Finally, a game between two teams that did not meet during the regular season. Noxubee has turned it on since starting the season 2-4, winning eight games in a row by an average of 27.3 points. Greenwood’s lone loss came three months ago to 5A Grenada, but the Bulldogs have lived dangerously in the post-season, winning their three previous playoff games by a combined seven points. C-L says: Noxubee County 28, Greenwood 27.
St. Stanislaus (10-3) at Lawrence County (13-1)
The Myles Brennan show comes to Monticello in the 4A South State final. The St. Stanislaus quarterback has thrown for an average of 278.3 yards in playoff wins over Quitman, Poplarville and Moss Point with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. He’ll face a Cougars defense that has forced 33 takeaways, including two interceptions last week in a 35-21 win over Vancleave. C-L says: St. Stanislaus 35-21.
Aberdeen (11-3) at Charleston (12-2)
Talk about a matchup: Charleston has run for at least 200 yards in all three of its playoff games while Aberdeen has only allowed 200 total yards in one of its three playoff matchups (Water Valley had 213). Aberdeen rolled through the playoffs, defeating Belmont, Water Valley and East Side by a combined score of 122-25. Charleston hasn’t lost since September, and shut out Yazoo County 28-0 a week ago. C-L says: Aberdeen 24-21.
West Marion (13-1) at Collins (13-1)
The 3A South State final features a rematch of one of the best games of the year. Trailing 28-16 at the half, Collins put up 22 second-half points to defeat West Marion 38-34 back on Oct. 16. Collins quarterback Detric Hawthorn threw for 303 yards and three touchdowns that night. West Marion hasn’t lost in five games since, and quarterback Josh Miller has averaged three touchdowns a game. C-L says: Collins 38-35.
East Webster (13-1) at Baldwyn (12-2)
Another matchup between two teams who did not meet in the regular season but have been on a collision course for weeks. The Wolverines have only allowed over 14 points in a game once this season (a 43-22 win at South Delta two weeks ago), and Baldwyn averages 38 points on offense. C-L says: East Webster 24-17.
Bassfield (12-2) at Bay Springs (12-2)
Two teams with differing styles will meet in the 2A South State final. Bay Springs brings a balanced attack while Bassfield is dependent on the power-run game. Bulldogs tailback Jaylin Jones has averaged nearly 150 yards rushing over the past four weeks, but must contend with a Yellowjacket defense that held Taylorsville to 76 yards on the ground last week. Neither team has lost since Sept. 18. C-L says: Bassfield 17-10.
Simmons (10-0) at Smithville (12-1)
Simmons hasn’t just defeated its opponents, it has demolished every team it has faced. The Blue Devils have outscored their 10 opponents 450-30. But they haven’t faced Smithville, a team that has only surrendered 19 combined points in its last five games, most of which came in a 14-13 win over Shaw last week. The winner will face either Lumberton or Resurrection in the 1A Championship. C-L says: Simmons 28-26.
Lumberton (8-5) at Resurrection (12-0)
Lumberton is 8-1 since starting the season 0-4 against higher-classification schools. It’s only loss? A 25-8 setback to Resurrection. The touchdown the Panthers scored in that game was one of only four the Eagles have given up this season. That defense will be tested again by reigning state C-L athlete of the week Daylon Burks, who ran for 303 yards and five touchdowns in a 34-27 win over Nanih Waiya last week. C-L says: Resurrection 14-10.