What?: 5A State Championship Game
Where?: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium at Hollingsworth Field on the campus of the University of Mississippi
When?: Saturday, December 5th @ 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, 88.1 FM Radio, My MS on Regional TV (check local listings), @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 Wayne County for the game)
The Lowdown: Is the third time a charm? We are about to find out tonight.
This will be one of the best matchups in the state that features three Dandy Dozens. All of them will be on the field at the same time with Wayne County's Benito Jones will be on the defensive line for the War Eagles.
Oxford will get the chance to clinch a State Title with their fan base and students traveling all but three miles to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Like always in the State Title game, it won't be easy.
Some of the things Oxford will need to do that the Chargers haven't done is be great on Special Teams. Oxford in the two games missed both of their field goals and missed a PAT, haven't been great in kickoff returns, and shanked a couple punts. On defense, Oxford blew a 14-point lead in the first game, they did better in the second game but still messed up when Laurel was clearly going to fake a PAT attempt. On offense, both times Oxford had the chance to tie/win the game, but fumbled a handoff the first time, and Abraham made a rare bad decision with an intentional grounding penalty inside the red zone the second time.
Wayne County uses a 2-to-1 ratio run-to-pass on offense. This is a dangerous offense that has seen this team score at least 50 points every other game, including twice so far in the playoffs. The three losses they have suffered aren't to teams that were weak. One was at Oak Grove, another to the No. 1 team in the state of Louisiana, and one to Laurel who they turned around and had to beat at their place to reach this game. The War Eagle defense will present a challenge to the Oxford offense.
Oxford has the experience of being in this type of game, been on national TV, and been in big games. Wayne County hasn't been to the Championship game in a while (nobody currently on the War Eagle roster has been), but they too were on ESPN earlier this year. This is the one they've wanted all season, let's see if they can get that gold ball.
For Oxford to Win the Championship, They Must: Not Commit Stupid Penalties - Oxford has committed around 10 a game this season. Doing those penalties in this game will hamper this team.
Execute on Special Teams - Aside from the onside kicks, Oxford hasn't done well here. It is part of the reason Oxford isn't 13-1 entering this game and why Oxford didn't win the championship last year. Just simply execute here and don't allow this facet of the game be talked about.
Be Physical and Stop the Run on Defense - Oxford is picking a really good time to stop the run. They stonewalled Germantown two weeks ago with 109 yards on 46 tries and save for one big play shut down West Point's running game to nothing. A repeat performance will do well here.
For Wayne County to Win the Championship, They Must: Pressure Abraham - They must find a way to disrupt the passing game and force Oxford to run the ball. Many of Oxford's throwing plays has Abraham getting rid of the ball quickly, so the defensive line of Wayne County must get by the experienced offensive line Oxford has.
Establish the Run - That sets up the passing plays. If they get into long down and distance plays, that works into the hands of the Oxford defense. I have noticed they tend to throw it if the running game doesn't get much on the early downs.
Other Notes: Oxford is 0-4 all time in the month of December. This is a rematch of the 2003 4A State Championship game where Oxford lost 30-3 to Wayne County. That year, Oxford was a 4-seed and Wayne County was a 1-seed. Oxford's last two Championship games were decided by seven and three points.