A look at Madison County’s games this week

Jackson Central-Merry at Liberty

Players to watch: JCM fullback Xavier Thomas; Liberty receiver Greg Morris

Game notes: Both teams are looking for a win to not only start the season but to also possibly signal the dawning of a new era for their program. Liberty hasn’t won a game on the field since 2019. JCM is starting its first season as a full member of the TSSAA since 2015. This is also the first of six games in the Commissioners Cup, the annual competition among Jackson-Madison County Schools teams to see who the best team in the school district is. A number of players that would’ve gone to Liberty before JCM re-opened are wearing green and gold, so there are a number of close friends and family members lining up against each other in this one.

Most recent meeting: 2015 – Liberty 62, JCM 37

Trivia: While Liberty hasn’t won a game on the field in three full seasons, the Cougars enter this game on a two-game winning streak.

Northpoint Christian at Jackson Christian

Player to watch: Jackson Christian defensive lineman Kaleb Newsome

Game notes: The Eagles begin their season with possibly their toughest non-region test of the season. Northpoint has what many in Memphis believe is their most talented roster in years since winning state in 2015, and a lot of experience returning as well. Jackson Christian will have a new quarterback and a new starting running back, but an experienced line will be in front blocking for them.

Most recent meeting: 2022 – Jackson Christian 24, Northpoint Christian 17

Trivia: Northpoint Christian is the only TSSAA school whose physical location is not actually in the state of Tennessee. It’s just across the border in Mississippi since the school changed locations but requested to remain in TSSAA for its athletics.

Peabody at University School of Jackson

Player to watch: USJ linebacker Sam McMillan

Game notes: The first game of the Derrick Pritchard era is against one of the premier programs in rural West Tennessee. Peabody hasn’t won a state championship in the last couple years, but the Golden Tide has been in the conversation and made deep runs into the playoffs both years. USJ brings plenty of youth into this matchup as 19 seniors graduated off last year’s team with a handful of returning starters on either side of the ball. Peabody is known for physical play up front and will be a quality test for the new crop of Bruin linemen in the trenches.

Most recent meeting: 2008 – USJ 31, Peabody 12

Trivia: This will be the second week in a row for the Bruins to line up against a traditional power from Gibson County if you count last week’s jamboree with Milan.

Chester County at Trinity Christian

Player to watch: TCA running back Lehki Thompkins

Game notes: While Darren Bowling is starting his first year leading the program at TCA, Chester County coach Dewond Johnson is starting his second year leading the Eagles. They made the playoffs in Johnson’s first year at the helm. TCA lined up against one of Chester County’s region rivals last week in the jamboree, South Side. While TCA looked like it had lost when the 20-minute running clock period was over, the Lions were actually moving the ball at the end and might’ve scored had the clock stopped when the ball went out of bounds.

Most recent meeting: 2008 – Chester Co. 35, TCA 28

Trivia: The Lions have made it to the postseason 10 of the last 11 years.

Ripley at South Side

Player to watch: South Side running back Raccarious Lacy

Game notes: Lester Narcisse has been the coach for the Hawks for six weeks now, and this could be a week when that could work in South Side’s favor. There’s very little game film of the Hawks in their current systems for the Ripley coaching staff to get indicators of what the Hawks are trying to do at any point. How the team does in this game could set the tone for the rest of the season as Ripley is a quality opponent with athleticism at a school about the same size as South Side.

Most recent meeting: 2022 – Ripley 20, South Side 7

Trivia: With the exception of 2020, Ripley and South Side have opened the season against each other every year since 2016.

North Side at Crockett County

Player to watch: North Side offensive lineman Willie Hikes

Game notes: The Indians are the only local team playing this week outside Madison County. This will be an emotional game as the Cavaliers have dealt with tragedy after Reese Barker, a student at the school who was also an assistant coach’s daughter and football manager, died in a car wreck on Saturday. As far as football Xs and Os go, the Indians come in as a wild card as their performance in the jamboree last week routing Haywood was a stark contrast to their overall performance last season going 1-9 and averaging 10 points per game scored. First year head coach Woodrow Lowe Jr. has grown the roster to more than 80 athletes.

Most recent meeting: 2022 – Crockett Co. 31, North Side 0 Trivia: When Lowe first took over Bolivar in 2014, the Tigers’ first opponent that season was Crockett County.

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