October 15, 2014 3:17:58 PM
Believe it or not, it is time for some area prep football teams to punch their playoff tickets.
In the MHSAA ranks, Starkville and New Hope both look for 4-0 starts in region play, which will all but lock down a playoff berth for each.
In Classes 4A and 3A, Noxubee County, Caledonia and Aberdeen look to sew up spots by bettering 2-0 marks in region play.
In the Christian Football Association, Victory Christian tries to complete an undefeated regular season.
Here are the five things we will watch in Week Nine:
Yellow Jackets or Jaguars
1. Will Starkville-Madison Central deliver another controversial, last-second finish?
Most likely not. Madison Central has already dropped two region games and could actually miss the playoffs altogether.
The question here is not necessarily who will win the game but whether top-ranked Starkville makes it four straight shutouts.
Trojans or Chargers
2. Can New Hope go on the road and land a signature victory?
The stage will be no bigger for upstart New Hope then when it plays Oxford (6-1) in a mammoth Class 5A, Region 1 matchup.
New Hope has started 7-0, thanks in large to part to a new-look defense, which has been stingy to put it mildly.
Still, that defense faces its biggest challenge to date with the high-flying Oxford offensive attack.
Win or lose, New Hope should make the playoffs. But man, what a win it would be.
Eagles or Warriors
3. Can Victory Christian gain revenge?
A year ago, Tuscaloosa Christian beat Victory Christian in both the regular season and postseason.
This week, Victory Christian travels to Tuscaloosa Christian. The Eagles can finish a perfect regular season, as well as gain some revenge all at the same time.
Raiders or Panthers
4. Can Oak Hill Academy pull the upset?
In its quest to keep playoff hopes alive, Oak Hill Academy needs a critical district win at home against Canton Academy.
Canton Academy is 7-1 overall and is allowing eight points per game this season.
That will prove a supreme test for the Oak Hill Academy offense. The Raiders need to pass the test. Tigers, Feds and/or Bulldogs
5. Can Noxubee County, Caledonia and Aberdeen each move to 3-0 in region play?
A 2-0 start in region play is outstanding. A 3-0 start is even better.
In six-team regions a 3-0 start puts you in the playoffs and also gives you the inside track for home-field advantage in the postseason.
Noxubee County plays West Lauderdale; Caledonia plays Kosciusko and Aberdeen plays Louisville looking for that 3-0 start.