Key: MP = Maxpreps, USAT = USA Today, MPB = Mississippi Public Broadcast, AP = Associated Press, CL = Clarion-Ledger, NR = Not Ranked / For ranking use in the article, AP will be used first, if not ranked in AP (uses only Top 10) then CL (only Top 10), then MPB, then USA Today, then Maxpreps
Who's playing?: Oxford (6-0 [2-0 in 1-5A], #9 AP, MPB, #12 USAT, #13 MP, #3 in 5A (AP)) vs. Lake Cormorant (4-2 [1-1], NR)
Where?: Bobby Holcomb Field @ OHS
When?: Friday, October 5 @ 7:00 PM
How can you keep up?: 95.5 FM Radio, Bullseye955.com, @OxChargerSports Twitter Account, Oxford Score Updates page on my website using the hashtag #themhills, View online at misshsaa.tv/oxford, Channel 97 (Metrocast) Monday @ 6 PM.
The lowdown: The No. 9-ranked Oxford Chargers finally got the New Hope monkey off their backs last week, defeating the Trojans 29-17. Oxford made enough plays last week to get by a team that has had their number previously. Consider test two accomplished after beating Lafayette earlier this year.
The Lake Cormorant Gators faced the team Oxford had the week prior in Center Hill. Lake Cormorant was trailing 24-3 late in the 3rd Quarter when they Intercepted CHHS QB Jacob Marsh and returned it for a Touchdown. Then was able to pull-off an onside kick (which Oxford was able to do twice on Center Hill) and scored on the ensuing possession. Lake Cormorant was able to tie it up and then scored a GW TD late in the fourth to complete a thrilling 30-24 comeback victory.
This Lake Cormorant team is also the same team that went down to West Point and made the Green Wave battle all night before coming out on the short end 23-17. This along with Saltillo who is 2-0 in Region play has to be the scariest teams on the schedule. They are not ranked and are not getting any publicity but are playing good football - good enough to come back on Center Hill and battle West Point all night. They have played two teams and competed for all 8 quarters. They have come out on the short end of the stick on one, but got the win in the other against the two teams that went 1,2 last year.
This Gator football team would love nothing more than to give Oxford the elusive L that the Chargers have been able to avoid. The Chargers have played pretty ugly at times but still found a way to get the W and not the L. Oxford did not play their best football last week against New Hope. If the Chargers are to get by this Gator football team, their A-Game has to be on this week.
For Oxford to win they must: Get off to a good start - Oxford has had starts of 14-0, 20-0, 17-0, and had a 10-0 start against Lafayette that finished off with a 19-0 win. The New Hope game showed shades of the Grenada game where Oxford did not get off to a good start and at one point they trailed in the game. They cannot allow this team to hang around, they must get off to another good start like they had the four games prior to the New Hope game and then keep applying the pressure offensively.
When given the lead, don't cough it up - With the exception of the Lafayette game, that 14-0, 20-0 and 17-0 leads in those games were nearly evaporated. Oxford saw a 14-0 lead diminish to 14-12 against Charleston, a 20-0 go down to 20-17 against Center Hill and a 17-0 lead drop to 17-14 against Senatobia. The OHS defense cannot allow this to happen again and allow teams to keep hanging around. This will eventually come back to bite them in the butt. All it takes is one more play after they get it that close and Oxford will not have that goose egg in the loss column any longer.
Don't give up big plays - The Gators like to throw it as much as Oxford does. With that, there are times were shots will be taken down field. If not that, they will try to hit a seam and try to pop one that way. The Chargers need to make Lake Cormorant drive the ball, like they did against New Hope. Against the Trojans late in the game, they were finally able to stall them out after they continued to get small yardage plays and drove all game, but made the fatal mistake of allowing a sack to happen and missed the ensuing Field Goal try for Oxford to preserve the victory.
For Lake Cormorant to win they must: Compete - Plain and simple. The Gators are not mistake proof and in their short history as a football team, they have always competed to keep games close and have a chance to win. Sometimes they come out on top, sometimes they do not. In all three meetings against the Chargers even though their all-time record against Oxford is 0-3, their largest margin of defeat has only been 8 points.
Keep Parker Adamson off the field - Their defense needs quick stops and have their offense keep the ball for long periods. When Adamson gets going on offense, Oxford has been hard to stop. Oxford has been able to run 75-90 plays a game - for a 48 minute football game, that is a LOT. College teams can barely get that many plays in a game. Lake Cormorant defense needs to keep that offense on the field for as few plays as possible (without letting them score of course). The defense has not always been a strong suit, but it must be if the Gators plan on this upset.
Attack downfield - Oxford did not allow the big play against New Hope last week, mainly because they did not take shots deep (yes, I'm being redundant here but it's true). The Gators have always been a passing team, the Oxford DB's have improved since the start of the year - but that doesn't mean that those plays down field are not there. Lake Cormorant knows they can feast if the throws are on target; the Oxford secondary will be tested.
Weather: Partly Cloudy (10% chance of rain) - 73*F at kickoff. Winds from the SSW 2-8 MPH. Temps expect to fall to the mid 60s by the end of the game.
Other Notes: All remaining football games this season (including this one) will start at 7:00 PM. In the three meetings between Oxford and Lake Cormorant, Oxford has won all three by a combined margin of just 22 points. If Oxford wins, they will be 3-0 in division play for the first time since 2006.
For this week, the Pre-Game Meal has taken me to the Pizza Den. Opened in 1966, it has withstood the test of time for the past 46 years. As one enters the restaurant, you can find a lot of Ole Miss sports posters collected over the years in all sports. What bothers me is they also have a Lafayette Football poster and not an Oxford one....
Pizza Den was previously known as "Pizza Bob's" once upon a time. What makes this restaurant stand the test of time is the great tasting food that they serve. The service "could" have been a little better, but for the price and the taste you can let that slide.
Their main menu items is Pizza (obviously), Sandwiches, Stromboli, Ravioli, and Muffuletta along with a few odds and ends.
Besides the typical Pizza choices you would find at any other place with pizza (Small, Medium, Large - choice from a number of toppings), they serve Ham, Turkey and Roast Beef Sandwiches. The pastas served are actually named just "Stromboli", "Ravioli", and "Muffuletta". They do serve a Chef Salad. That is basically it when it comes to menu choices. The menu can be found at the counter when you order. The menu is just two one-sided pages long and there are just about only 9-10 other items besides the Pizza portion of the menu. All pizzas are thin-crust.
You would think with as good of an Italian restaurant it is with the food they serve that I would take one of their Italian dishes that is not pizza that they serve. All the reviews say to go after the Stromboli or the Muff. Nope. I took a Small 2-topping Pizza - for the sake that the name of the restaurant is called the "Pizza Den" - the 2-toppings being Ham and Pineapple.
Now, I know what you are going to say: "Ewwww, PINEAPPLE?!?! ON A PIZZA?!" It is not as bad as it looks or sounds. Pineapple gives a nice glaze to the pizza no matter the restaurant you get it from. Ham gives it that Hawaiian taste to it. Pineapple is also a fruit, the only fruit you can put on a pizza. It works, everyone should try it at least once.
If you can handle the lack of decent service, this restaurant is one to try out. However I was a little tardy on this article (and this is the shortest I've typed up), so I will post a special edition Pre-Game Meal next week along with my normal (actual) Pre-Game Meal.
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