What?: First Round of the MHSAA 5A Playoffs
Where?: Bobby Holcomb Field
When?: Friday, November 13th @ 7:00 PM
How can you keep yourself updated?: 95.5 FM Radio with Don Brooks and Denny Tosh on the call, Bullseye955.com audio on the internet, @OxChargerSports Twitter account (Link: HERE), thru the iScore Gamecast HERE (use ID 5038B9B22A for entry if needed) and the iScore Central App on Apple devices HERE (download the app for free using that link, which will send you to the Apple App Store, after downloading and starting the app, search Oxford and/or Vicksburg for the game)
The Lowdown: This looks familiar. A 4-seed Vicksburg Gator team travelling more than 200 miles to face arguably their best opponent of the year. That happened two years ago.
The Gators come into the playoffs strong needing to knock off Holmes County Central just to make the playoffs (and some help with Neshoba Central losing). However, those two opponents are nothing like they will face when they enter Bobby Holcomb Field. Oxford knew coming into last week that whoever was going to face them was going to come off a win as the three teams mentioned all had to win their game to have a chance at making the playoffs.
The Gators come into this game as what you would expect a record would be as a 4-seed at 6-5. They have been competitive in every region game they have played. This team could easily be 5-2 in the region and be 8-3 overall and someone else could be in the 4-seed spot here.
But there is a reason they are in this spot. The Gators aren't that good on offense averaging around 21 PPG. Prior to last week when they scored 37 on Holmes County Central, only once has a score go beyond 31 points offensively or defensively - and that was against winless Lanier. This team grinds out games. Their defense is what has to carry them, and that is a tall task against an Oxford offense that did not fail to score less than 46 points one time during region play.
This is also the first time in the last three years that Oxford has made it through region play healthy. No injuries like what DK Metcalf went through his Sophomore year. No injuries like what Kyree White and Jack Abraham went through their Junior year. Yes, Drew Bianco went down and missed region play, but he is out forever and they've gone the whole year without Kenzie Phillips. No new pieces are expected to be added going into the playoffs that will disrupt the offense.
The road to State runs through Oxford. (...well, it's true for every classification this year...) To get through North Half, somebody has to knock this team off.
For Oxford to Win, They Must: Gain Confidence on Defense - The last two weeks, Oxford's defense in the secondary has been getting gashed a good bit. This is the type of offense to go and get that fixed. Oxford hasn't had a shutout since beating Southaven.
Improve On 'Pressure' Field Goal Kicking - The time for practice is over. I do not remember the last time Oxford made a pressure Field Goal. I remember in 2008 Oxford made a go-ahead Field Goal that proved to be the difference against Hernando. That may have been the last time. It may not happen in this game, but three recent games in the past 27 games hasn't led me to believe to have faith in that department.
Just Keep Going on Offense - That isn't a worry point this week.
For Vicksburg to Win, They Must: Lean on Their Defense - Like many opponents before, it will be a tall task to stop the Oxford offense. The Chargers scored 50 on this team two years ago, and the main playmakers then are still there. This defense needs to step up this go-around, or it will be a long trip back.
Be Consistent On Offense - Lately this offense has been scoring between 20-30 points each game including 17 against a Grenada defense that is supposed to be pretty good. They can't run into punt situations though or they may not keep up with Oxford.
Make Zero Mistakes - This team can't give Oxford cheap points, or their playoff hopes will be gone.
Other Notes: Oxford defeated Vicksburg two years ago in the first round of the playoffs 50-7, also at Bobby Holcomb Field. If Oxford wins this week, they will either HOST Germantown next week or TRAVEL to Lake Cormorant. If Germantown wins and West Point wins this week, Oxford will host each round of the playoffs, including North Half for the third year in a row if the Chargers continue to win.