October 22, 2014 10:04:16 AM
With two or three weeks remaining in the regular season for each Mississippi High School Activities Association football team, we really have hit the stretch run.
Here is a closer look at the playoff picture for the Mississippi teams in our area:
Starkville -- The top-ranked Yellow Jackets need one more win to secure a playoff bid. However, Starkville also has much bigger goals. Three teams are 4-0 in Class 6A, Region 2. Starkville will play region co-leaders Warren Central (8-0) and Clinton (7-1) in the final two weeks of the regular season.
Starkville can still finish first, second, or third in the region, even with a victory against Murrah. The first-round opponent most likely will be Grenada or DeSoto Central. There is an outside chance Starkville could play Southaven.
Columbus -- The Falcons have a pulse in the playoff chase thanks to a 46-0 win at Greenville last week. Columbus is in a four-way tie for fourth place in the Class 6A, Region 2 race.
Columbus will play host to Madison Central on Friday night. Both teams are 1-3 in the region. Next week, Columbus will play host to Murrah (1-3). The Falcons need to win both of those games. Columbus will play at Warren Central in its regular-season finale.
The Falcons know they are fighting for the fourth seed in the region, which most likely would mean a first-round road trip to South Panola.
New Hope -- The Trojans appear poised to return to the postseason for the first time since 2010. New Hope is in a two-way tie for second place in Class 5A, Region 1 with three region games remaining. New Hope will play host to Lewisburg on Friday night and then travel to Clay County next week to play West Point. Clarksdale and Saltillo are tied for fourth in the region race.
New Hope will play host to Saltillo on Nov. 7. New Hope can lock up a postseason bid by beating Lewisburg (4-5, 1-3). A victory Friday would enable New Hope to focus on securing home-field advantage for the playoffs in its final two regular-season games.
West Point -- The Green Wave have rebounded from a loss to Oxford with three-straight region wins. West Point has outscored those opponents126-27. With three region games remaining, West Point is tied for New Hope for second in the region. Each team has lost to Oxford.
West Point will play host to New Hope next week. On Friday night, West Point can clinch a playoff berth with a win at Saltillo. Like New Hope, a victory Friday would allow West Point to control its destiny in its quest for home-field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
As far as first-round playoff opponents, Ridgeland, Pearl, and Germantown are in the clubhouse in Class 5A, Region 2, with Vicksburg and Callaway fighting for second place in the region. Pearl will go to Ridgeland on Oct. 31 in a game that most likely will determine the region title.
Noxubee County -- The Tigers are breezing to a third-straight Class 4A, Region 4 championship. After early season losses to Starkville and West Point, Noxubee County has outscored its first three region opponents 123-39. Noxubee County can wrap up the region title with a win Friday at Caledonia. Win or lose, the Tigers could lock up home-field advantage with a victory against Houston next week in its regular-season finale.
Caledonia -- The Confederates still have work to do to clinch their first playoff appearance since 2005. After winning its first two region games, Caledonia lost to Kosciusko last week. The Confederates still could qualify with two losses. However, home-field advantage and the region crown are within grasp with one or two wins. After playing Noxubee County, Caledonia finishes at Leake Central.
As far as playoff crosses go, Lafayette appears poised to win the Class 4A, Region 2 championship. Ripley and Senatobia are one win away from clinching playoff berths. Rosa Fort or New Albany most likely will travel to the Class 4A, Region 4 champion.
Aberdeen -- The Bulldogs will look to bounce back from a 37-6 loss to Louisville last week in a battle for Class 3A, Region 4 lead. Still, the Bulldogs can lock up a playoff berth with a home victory against Winona on Friday or a road win next week at South Pontotoc.
Aberdeen is in a three-way tie with Kemper County and Winona, so it can take a huge step toward home-field advantage Friday night by beating Kemper County.
Charleston is on cruise control for the Class 3A, Region 2 championship. Water Valley and North Panola are tied for second in the region. Holly Springs and Independence are tied for the region's final playoff spot.
Hamilton -- The Lions have shaken off a loss to Falkner to contend for the Class 1A, Region 1 title. Hamilton is in a three-way tie with Smithville and Falkner at 4-1 in region play, one game behind Coffeeville.
Hamilton has a critical home game Friday against Coldwater, which is fifth in region play. Hamilton can lock down a playoff berth Friday. Still ahead for Hamilton is Smithville on the road and Coffeeville at home. That means Friday may be the biggest game of the season earn a playoff bid. The final two games will help decide the region champion.
Hamilton most likely will face Shaw or Montgomery County in the first round of the playoffs. St. Aloysius is in line to win Class 1A, Region 2. Shaw and Kennedy also are possibilities.
West Lowndes -- The Panthers may be fighting uphill, but they are still battling for one of four playoff berths from Class 1A, Region 3.
Entering this week's game at Sebastopol, West Lowndes is sixth in the region standings with two region games left. Sebastopol is in a two-way tie for fourth in the region. The final region game is Nov. 7 at Noxapater. West Lowndes will need two wins to make the playoffs.
If the Panthers qualify, Region 4 leader Nanih Waiya most likely will be the first-round opponent.
Scott Walters is a sports reporter for The Dispatch. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @dispatchscott.
Scott is sports copy editor and reporter
1. Westburg powers MSU past North Carolina COLLEGE SPORTS
3. Berkery adds former MLB pitcher Oswalt to staff at Starkville Academy HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS