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Shields tries to avoid letdown in picks

At the risk of getting cocky, but I feel like I’m at midseason form with my picks at this point.

After a perfect 5-0 week last week, the record for the season is 13-7 (13-1 since going totally incorrect in Week 1, so we may start not counting that week).

But getting too proud of success is a recipe for disaster for a lot of football teams throughout the course of a season.

A team has a big game against a region rival who’s heavily favored to win, and the team puts everything it has into winning that game.

Bragging rights and the thrill of victory mean more than just about anything else that week.

And it shows on Friday night too. Every hit is a little harder. Every ball-carrier is a little more difficult to bring down. Everybody’s running a step faster.

Then it’s over. The clock in the fourth quarter winds down to 0:00, and the underdog emerges from the matchup victorious. The coach and players get their appropriate accolades for the big win.

But Saturday comes, and they’re all moving slow because of injuries and exhaustion. Practice week starts on Monday, and they’re a little sluggish. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday – they go through the motions of practice but they’re still enjoying that win from the week before.

Then the next Friday comes against a weaker opponent who’s just as hungry for a win as they were the week before. They fail to live up to the hype the previous week’s win created, and they fall in an unexpected manner.

That’s the situation I’m trying to avoid with my picks this week. Here they are:

Jackson Christian 49, Fayette Aca. 14: I don’t like to pick a win this big, because it’s asking a lot of the favored team. But knowing what Jackson Christian’s offense is capable of and knowing what Trinity Christian’s game plan was last week and how well it worked for them, the Eagles could be flying all over the field during this one. The Vikings have a tough rush defense, but their pass defense looked suspect last week. That could be a big opening for the home team to win big.

Hardin Co. 34, North Side 24: The Tigers have emerged as the early favorite to win the region championship. The Indians showed some heart in their comeback victory last week in region play, but they had a hard time putting the ball over the goalline. Hardin County is a better offensive team than North Side’s opponent last week, and the defense will have to play up to its potential to stop the Tigers.

University School of Jackson 24, South Gibson 7: The Bruins are licking their wounds after last week and are probably ready to get back on the field and hit someone. Meanwhile the Hornets, who were thought in preseason to be a contender for a region championship and a long playoff run in Class 4A, has had some injuries to key players that’s affected their efficiency the last couple of weeks. USJ will probably be feeling better about itself after this week.

Chester Co. 21, South Side 19: The Eagles are winless on the season, but the teams they’ve played have a combined record of 11-4, and they’ve stayed competitive in most of those games. The Hawks are good at keeping games competitive too. So this game could come down to the final minutes if not the final play. But Chester County has a number of quality athletes who will be tough to stop.

Milan 49, Jackson Central-Merry 20: JCM has had a couple weeks to prepare for the Bulldogs, but the Bulldogs can score some points. While JCM had a quality showing against a decent opponent two weeks ago and holding them to 31 points in a loss, Milan scored more than 60 points to win going away. The Bulldogs flirt with having a running clock because of a 35-point lead, but the Cougars don’t let it get that out of hand.

Ripley 34, Liberty 16: I think the Crusaders show some fight and score twice in this game, but it’s not enough. The Tigers have shown they’re a solid team that is more than capable on both sides of the ball.

Trinity Christian 42, Manassas 0: The team from Memphis is 0-3 and hasn’t scored a point all year. TCA is coming off a game in which a few school records were broken. A few more will be broken this week if the coaching staff and players decide to go after that.

Brandon Shields, brandon@jacksonpost.news

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