While the top two teams have distanced themselves from the field in Region 3-5A, the fight for the final two playoff spots is as jumbled as ever, with four teams vying for the coveted two postseason bids.
Natchez and Brookhaven are both 2-1 in the region, while North Pike and South Jones are 1-2.
The Braves, who are coming off a crushing 27-24 loss to Natchez, will now focus on the long trip west to play the Jaguars, who were shut out 37-0 at West Jones on Friday. The loser of the South Jones-North Pike game likely will miss the playoffs.
The Braves are 1-2 in the region as they prepare to face the Jaguars and their standout quarterback Alijah Martin. He has thrown 12 touchdown passes and run for 13 touchdowns with 1,067 rushing yards.
South Jones will counter with a strong running game that features senior Chad Moses, who has scored touchdowns in each of the last two games and has three for the season, and fellow seniors John Mitchell and Vekelion Campbell.
Campbell has run for 867 yards and seven touchdowns, while Mitchell leads the team with nine touchdown runs and 854 yards. Moses has rushed for 222 yards. Micaiah Davis, Andrew Howard and DeMarcus McGilberry lead South Jones’ defense with two sacks apiece.
NE Jones at Quitman
The Tigers from Northeast Jones are still searching for their first win of the season, but could certainly play spoiler for other teams in Region 5-4A down the stretch.
That will start Friday night when the Tigers are set to travel to face Quitman and its powerful running game led by quarterback Jed Lewis. The junior quarterback has run for 982 yards and nine touchdowns and has also thrown a touchdown pass.
The Panthers are averaging 316 yards per game on the ground and are coming off a 47-20 victory over Newton County.
Northeast Jones had a good first half last Friday before falling to West Lauderdale 33-13 to fall to 0-7 on the year. Quitman is tied for third in the region with a 1-1 record.
Taylorsville at Enterprise
The Tartars improved to 8-0 after a potential showdown between state small-school powers turned into a blowout when Taylorsville defeated Class 1A Lumberton 35-9.
The win over the Panthers, barring a shocking result, will be the Tartars’ last test until the playoffs start.
The defending Class 2A state champions have won 23 straight games and last lost on Nov. 4, 2016, in the opening round of the Class 2A state playoffs to Prentiss.
The Tartars’ last three opponents — starting Friday at Enterprise — have a combined 7-17 record. THS will finish the regular season against Heidelberg and Clarkdale.
Bay Springs at Newton
The Bulldogs (5-3) are coming off a 40-6 win over Clarkdale and will now travel to play 1-6 Newton in a non-region matchup. Newton has lost three straight and its only win is a 28-25 victory over winless Choctaw Central.
Salem at Stringer
The Red Devils will seek their eighth straight victory Friday night when they host Salem, a team that hasn’t won since the season-opener over winless Enterprise-Lincoln.
Last week, Salem lost to Resurrection Catholic, 43-13, a team Stringer defeated by 30.