October 14, 2014 3:07:32 PM
Several quality matchups headline a critical week of battle in the prep football ranks.
New Hope and Starkville are both off to 7-0 starts. However, each will face their biggest tests of the season. New Hope faces Oxford for the Class 5A, Region 1 lead, while Starkville faces traditional nemesis Madison Central in its quest to maintain the Class 6A, Region 2 lead.
Some area schools can even clinch playoff berths this weekend, as the stretch run of the regular season really is upon us now.
Here are some winners....
New Hope at Oxford
The final two unbeatens in Class 5A, Region 1 play collide Friday night in Lafayette County.
Oxford is 6-1. The Chargers have won five straight after its early-season loss to Starkville.
A year ago, Oxford won its first 14 games before falling to Picayune in the Class 5A state title game.
New Hope is 7-0 after last Friday's win over Lake Cormorant. While Oxford has been a power, New Hope looks for its first playoff berth since 2010.
New Hope has had a tremendous start to the season and has removed all doubts of being a legitimate Class 5A title contender.
Knocking off Oxford would be a huge achievement for this team. Either way, playing in its first "big game" of the season will serve the Trojans well down the stretch run.
Oxford 34, New Hope 22
Starkville at Madison Central
Last season's most exciting game may have been Starkville's 45-42 Class 6A, Region 2 triumph over Madison Central. The game ended on a controversial pass interference call which denied the Jaguars the potential game-winning touchdown.
The teams meet again Friday and the stakes are really high for both teams.
Starkville (7-0), Warren Central (7-0) and Clinton (6-1) each have 3-0 marks in region play. The Yellow Jackets will play each of those three over the final three weeks of the regular season.
Madison Central is in a three-way for fourth place in the region with a 1-2 mark. It appears the Jaguars may have to beat one of the "Big Three" from the region to make a playoff berth.
Meanwhile, Starkville looks for its fourth straight shutout in region play. Heck, let's give it to them.
Starkville 42, Madison Central 0
Victory Christian at Tuscaloosa Christian
In the preseason, optimism was high for Victory Christian. With several seniors, the Eagles had high hopes for a Christian Football Association championship.
The first step in winning that title has already taken place as Victory Christian has already nailed down the CFA regular season championship.
A victory over Tuscaloosa Christian will give the Eagles a very impressive undefeated run through its regular season schedule.
Look for Cody Bolton, Anthony Sharp, Reed Fulgham and the rest of the Eagles to be up for the challenge against the defending conference champions.
Victory Christian 42, Tuscaloosa Christian 32
Louisville at Aberdeen
The stage is set for a big showdown in the Class 4A, Region 3 ranks.
Louisville is the defending Class 3A state champions. The Wildcats won their first two, lost four straight but have since rebounded for a 2-0 start in region play.
Aberdeen may be the area's biggest surprise. A very youthful squad of Bulldogs have started 6-2, with the lone losses being to undefeated Class 5A foe New Hope and Class 4A favorite Noxubee County.
Louisville is also very young. It is a safe bet that if realignment keeps these two together the games in the years ahead will be outstanding.
This game has potential, too, with both teams most likely host a first-round playoff game.
Aberdeen 42, Louisville 21
Columbus at Greenville
Now is the time for Columbus.
After three tough losses to start its Class 6A, Region 2 campaign, Columbus now goes on the road to take on Greenville.
The Falcons have some talented players on both sides of the ball. However, Columbus is young in several spots. Coach Randal Montgomery felt like his team did not have the mental makeup this past Friday night to win another 50-50 region game with Northwest Rankin.
Columbus has another chance at victory Friday night. The Falcons need a win to keep a slight playoff pulse alive. They also need a win to keep believing and to finish the season strong.
Columbus 22, Greenville 20
Canton Academy at Oak Hill Academy
Oak Hill Academy looks for a strong finish to its regular season.
The Raiders are 4-4 overall and 2-1 in MAIS Class AA, District 2 action. Oak Hill Academy has already lost to Tri-County Academy. Thus, the Raiders will ned a win over either Canton Academy or Leake Academy to have any playoff hopes alive.
Canton Academy is 7-1 and winners of five straight. The Panthers are outstanding on defense, only allowing eight points per game.
Canton Academy 21, Oak Hill Academy 0
Kosciusko 38, Caledonia 36 ... Noxubee County 42, West Lauderdale 7 ... West Lowndes 42, East Oktibbeha 12 ... West Point 42, Lake Cormorant 0 ... Amory 28, Shannon 21 ... East Webster 34, Bruce 6 ... Hamilton 42, Biggersville 0 ... Heritage Academy 28, Leake Academy 20 ... Newton Academy 34, Columbus Christian 12 ... Central Academy 34, Hebron Christian 22 ... Manchester Academy 28, Winston Academy 20 ... Aliceville 34, Greensboro 32 ... Gordo 24, Lamar County 8 ... Pickens Academy 34, Russell Christian 0 ... Pickens County 34, Vincent 26 ... Hubbertville 34, South Lamar 12 ... Sulligent 28, Phil Campbell 26
Last Week: 24-2 (92.4 percent)
For Season: 147-29 (83.5 percent)