Friday night will be the finale of the 2020 region schedule for both the Madison Central Jaguars and the Germantown Mavericks. For Germantown (2-4 in region, 6-4 overall) it marks the end of the season, while Madison Central (4-2 in region, 7-3 overall) needs a win to keep its playoff hopes alive.
It’s almost unbelievable how tough it is in Region 2-6A. Here’s a look at the standings heading into Friday:
Warren Central 4 1
Starkville 4 1
Clinton 4 1
South Panola 4 2
Madison Central 4 2
Germantown 2 4
Only the top four make the playoffs.
“I’ve told our kids and coaches that the only thing we can control right now is our game against Germantown,” said Jaguars Head Coach Anthony Hart. “We won’t be scoreboard watching, we hope to win and then see where the chips fall.”
Madison is coming off a tough loss on the road at South Panola 12-10. The Jags were fresh off a terrific upset of formerly unbeaten and number one ranked Starkville 15-9. MC’s other on-field region win is against Clinton. The other region loss was on the road against Warren Central, 8-0. That’s just 27 total points allowed in those games against three powerhouses. On the year the defense is yielding an average of nine points per game.
“Our defense is a bit small and undersized on paper, but boy are they fast and come to play hard every single week,” said Hart.
To put it mildly, this Jaguar defense is stout. They are led by senior defensive back Creek Robertson who leads the team with 67 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery. Fellow senior linebacker Josiah Perryman has been an offensive nightmare with 11 tackles for loss. Junior defensive end C.J. Barney can’t be overlooked with 10 tackles for loss. All told this defense has amassed an incredible 17 sacks and 61 tackles behind the line of scrimmage against a gauntlet of opponents.
Offensively, it’s been an up and down year for Hart due to injuries, especially at quarterback where Tate Collins went down early in the season. The Jags beat NW Rankin 31-20, Pearl 35-7, Clinton 35-14 and Winona 38-14. They were shut-out by Brandon 7-0 and Warren Central 8-0. Hart will look to get senior running back Duke Arnold going. Arnold leads the team in rushing with 450 yards on 96 carries and four touchdowns. Another senior running back, Jackson Mize, is coming off strong games against Starkville and South Panola, rushing for a total of 160 yards. Sophomore quarterback Vic Sutton has done well since being thrust into action going 19 of 36 for 221 yards with two touchdowns against one interception.
“While this has been a roller coaster ride, it’s really been one of my favorite years because of the attitude and heart of our kids,” said Hart. “They have stayed so positive, worked so hard together in the midst of injuries and covid. We’ve been fortunate to not have missed a game this year for virus reasons and that’s a testament to our young men.”
On the other side, Germantown is coming off its best game of the season, a 72-38 thrashing of Cleveland Central. Head Coach Tim Shramek, in his 10th season at the helm, has seen his team drop close region games to Clinton 21-14, South Panola 19-16, and Warren Central 24-10. The Mavs have wins over Canton 38-6, Tylertown 45-12, Terry 55-21 and Cleveland Central.
The Maverick’s main man is junior running back Branson Robinson. Robinson, with a year left to play already has scholarship offers from Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Michigan and Oregon. At 5’ 11, 218 lbs, he’s rumbled for 1,077 yards and 15 touchdowns. That’s 10 yards a carry and 134 yards per game.
“He is something special,” said Coach Shramek. “He’s big, he’s tough, and very fast for his size.”
Germantown has two other rushing weapons in senior quarterback Colton Gardner, 309 yards with seven touchdowns, and senior running back Nick Barnes, 285 yards with four touchdowns.
Gardner has also thrown for more than 700 yards making him a solid dual threat.
“Colton is a really smart, good quarterback,” said Shramek. “He’s a tough competitor with great football awareness.”
Defensively, senior linebacker John Lewis leads the G-Men. Lewis holds the team lead in tackles with 64, including nine sacks.
When asked to describe Lewis, Shramek was quick to say, ‘He’s a true leader and always stays positive. He makes his teammates and us coaches better. That carries over to all our guys. We have so many quality kids that are creating a culture of success.”
Alongside Lewis are two other talented defenders in sophomore linebacker Austin Ghoston (59 tackles, three fumble recoveries, one sack and a touchdown) and junior linebacker Devin Arrington (55 tackles and two sacks).
“I don’t look at us playing the role of spoiler,” noted Shramek. “Our kids have played so hard this year and it breaks your heart to see them come up short. We are gonna go out Friday night with the belief we will win. This would be a huge springboard for this program as we continue to build in our second year in not only 6A, but this SEC-style region.”
Coach Hart knows the Mavericks will present a challenge. “They might have the three best players we’ve seen this year. They have been in position to win every region game except one.”
This budding rivalry is just getting started.
The Series Madison Leads 1-0
Last meeting: Madison Central won 36-23 (2019)
Keys to Victory
MADISON CENTRAL: Don’t take chances on offense, run the ball and don’t turn it over. Let the defense do its thing. It will be hard for the Mavericks to sustain long drives against this defense.
GERMANTOWN: Let it all hang out and play loose. The Mavericks have nothing to lose. Capitalize on Madison mistakes and try to keep the game close into the fourth quarter.