Who's Playing?: Oxford (2-2, #8 AP/CL, #6 MP, #1 in 5A [MP]) vs. West Point (3-1, #9 CL, #10 AP/MP, #3 in 5A [CL])
What?: First Region 2-5A Game
Where?: Bobby Holcomb Field
When?: Friday, September 25th @ 7:00 PM
How can you keep yourself updated?: 95.5 FM Radio with Don Brooks and Denny Tosh on the call, Bullseye955.com, @OxChargerSports Twitter account (Link: HERE), LIVE online streaming thru WSN at this website HERE, thru the iScore Gamecast HERE (use ID 7DF28156B0 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 West Point for the game)
The Lowdown: An off week has worked wonders in the past two years for Oxford entering Region 2-5A play against West Point. The Chargers have been able to recover from the grueling non-region schedule and one can argue this year's schedule has been the most grueling of any of them. The best thing about this? Oxford came away from those four games with minimal injuries. If you were to ask many people in Oxford about which they would take either being 4-0 but banged up or being 2-2 and everyone relatively healthy, the latter would be chosen by nearly everyone if not everyone.
Two years ago, Oxford entered the West Point game without DK Metcalf, and defeated the Green Wave for the first time in a really long time despite the injury. Last year, Oxford entered the contest without Kyree White as part of their offense for the first time since he was on the high school team and left the contest with an injured Jack Abraham on a cheap-shot face mask foul that damaged Oxford more than it damaged West Point. They just got 15 yards for the penalty; Abraham missed the next four games. Oxford did have everyone for the playoff matchup and ran away from them.
This regular season meeting, Oxford isn't marred with a surprise injury suffered during the Crosstown Classic the game before. Unless Kenzie Phillips and White somehow get cleared to play, the offense won't be without players missing that was there the previous game.
West Point enters this game at 3-1 and coming off a huge win over Noxubee County - who defeated Starkville the opening week of the season - last week. They won the game with defense, the classic way West Point usually wins football games in the past. West Point was able to solve the rubik's cube that Starkville didn't do in their OT loss. Oddly enough, their one loss was to the same Starkville team and they couldn't score against them. The Green Wave does have a young team with most of their playmakers being Sophomores and Juniors. There are very few seniors that play on this West Point team this year and are proving themselves to be formidable again. As young as they are, they will return nearly every playmaker next year.
Their offense is a question mark. It has been since Aeris Williams left West Point. They did score 46 against Louisville, but after seeing them play against Lafayette last week during Oxford's off week, I can see why West Point scored pretty easily against them. If West Point can't hold Oxford's offense in check, it will be a long night just as it was the last three meetings against the Chargers. DK Metcalf played a pivotal role against West Point both times last year. West Point did not have a cornerback to match him and really destroyed the Green Wave.
This game has been pivotal in deciding the region champion, and it looks that way once again this year.
For Oxford to Win, They Must: Stop Making Stupid Mistakes - Penalties being the main culprit. Oxford had 14 points taken away from them because of penalties that were completely away from the play last week. One on a blocked field goal, one on a long pass play. Oxford had 7 taken away from them in Starkville, and 24 penalties in the opener. Oxford must play smarter.
Play Assignment Defense - Besides tackling better, Oxford all year has had some busted assignments. Oxford is young but that shouldn't be an excuse. Some busted assignments have been inexcusable.
For West Point to Win, They Must: Find Consistent Offense / Be Able to Play From Behind - Oxford has scored first in three of the four games. (But oddly enough are 1-2 in such games). West Point's offense has never been built to come back from behind. They don't ever have a plan B in their game plan. The offense they do have must work or they will be in big trouble if they are sizably behind in the fourth quarter.
Keep Oxford Out of the End Zone - It has been done, but difficult to do. Talent helps, but playing mistake-free in a high school game will be difficult to do against this offense. They need to keep Oxford's scoring to a minimum to stay in the game.
Other Notes: West Point was the only team Oxford played twice last year, playing them in the regular season and in the playoffs both times at West Point. The winner of this game has won the region in six of the past seven years (2011 was the only year that didn't have Oxford or West Point win the region).