What?: 5A North Half Championship Game
Where?: Bobby Holcomb Field
When?: Friday, November 27th @ 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 West Point for the game)
The Lowdown: Before I get into this specific game, I would like to refresh some memories, specifically Oxford and West Point's, on some of the plays during the end of the last four games between the two teams. Four of the following six videos shown were after the game was put out of reach or had Oxford trying to kill the clock. Five of the six occurred in the second half. All of the videos shown was when Oxford was leading in the game. Note that I could not find a way to post the videos off of Hudl, so I took a video with my iPhone from the iPad showing off of Hudl, and then posted the videos onto Youtube (in the "unlisted" manner, so they would not be found searching for it on the website or by search engines such as Google).
The first video shown below occurred the regular season game of the 2014 season. With under one minute left in the third quarter and Oxford up 36-22 with 1st & 10 from the West Point 37-yard-line, Jack Abraham scrambles out of the pocket into the clearance ahead of him. Abraham was grabbed by the face mask from behind and was pulled down backwards. A 15-yard Personal Foul Face Mask penalty was called on the play. This was the play Abraham tore his meniscus on and had to miss the next four weeks. Abraham finished out the drive but was pulled out on the ensuing drive.
Oxford had a 1st & 10 at the West Point 32-yard-line with the clock moving towards three minutes to play. Oxford called for a swing pass, normally called as an extension of the running play. West Point's #55 (yep, the same player in the last video) after getting knocked down on the initial block, goes across the back of the play, going way out of his way and hits Josh Patton a considerable amount of time after the play was blown dead. No penalty was called on the play. That is important for the next video below this one. What was worse about this play was #55 played dumb and acted like he never heard the whistle.
Oxford's Abraham was in the game, mainly because there was no real back-up quarterback at the time Oxford first played West Point. Ben Bianco had quit the team, John Reese McClure would lose his Freshman eligibility had he entered the Varsity game in place of Abraham, and Oxford's back-up plan was to have a wide receiver take the snaps, which is never a good idea ball-security wise. Oxford had a Sophomore QB take snaps in JV games prior to this game, but hasn't cleanly either take the snaps or handed the ball off without fumbling every other series of downs. Oxford did not want to cough up the ball to West Point.
Oxford didn't want to take a knee because of the second video I showed you earlier on this post. Oxford was trying to avoid the cheap-shot. This play didn't work to avoid the cheap-shot either.
With 30 seconds and counting remaining, Oxford had 1st & 10 at the West Point 20-yard-line. West Point's #55 (yes, him again) blows right by Will Swindoll who was simply pushing him out of the way of the play nails Abraham a solid 1-1/2 seconds after the ball was handed off by Abraham. The hit drew multiple flags and the West Point player was ejected for "Flagrant Targeting" on the play.
This would get reviewed and the penalty would be downgraded to just a "Targeting" penalty to nullify the 1-game suspension. Remember in High School there is two separate penalties for Targeting. "Flagrant Targeting" ejects the player and suspends the player for the next game. "Targeting" is just a 15-yard penalty with no ejection or suspension. This is extremely different from the college rule where there is just one enforcement.
West Point sports writers had the nerve to write about how Oxford was being "unsportsmanlike" for defending our player's well-being. It shouldn't matter who was in the game at the time, those type of hits are unacceptable and not professional of the West Point coaching staff to let this type of thing happen again, and again, and again. When the game gets out of reach - especially if Oxford winds up on top again - #55 for West Point needs to be on the sidelines. He clearly can't be trusted to be put in the game without causing trouble. It is very clear in the last three videos he does excessive hits after a play is over with. Those types of hits at the end of the game entices fights. One almost happened the last time.
In one of the articles written by West Point, the writer said that the offensive play ran by Oxford as a "zone-read". I pointed out on one of my blog posts that a zone-read requires a defensive end to be unblocked and that a linebacker has the quarterback on such plays. What I haven't said was what makes the name "zone"-read. It is ZONE blocking by the offensive line. All the offensive lineman goes to one side of the line in a zone-read. Zone-blocking typically happens on passing plays, which Oxford was clearly not doing during that drive. That type of blocking did not happen. In the sixth video above, #30, back-up fullback Will Harvey, went in motion and eventually stops lining up as the full back on the play, indicating man-blocking. It's really an off-set I-formation just without the quarterback under center. In the play, the blocking was pretty bad on the left side, where the play is designed to go. I also pointed out two other things: Jack Abraham does not run the ball, and no one went after Abraham out of any run play from the shotgun at any point prior to that run play.
Now, finally for this matchup. West Point has wanted Oxford since the loss earlier this year. They have said all the right things in wanting Oxford, but not giving in too much bulletin board material for Oxford. They know they haven't been the dominant team they have been in the past. Also, their mindset of intimidating other opponents won't work and hasn't worked against Oxford. I said this two years ago before the 2013 regular season meeting and I'll say it here: Whoever won that game will win the next two (years) as well. Oxford since winning that game has won the next three meetings in those two years.
One of the problems West Point has had against Oxford? Personal Fouls. In West Point's four losses to Oxford over the past three seasons, they have committed 12 Personal Foul/Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalties. Oxford has committed just one (occurring last year in the regular season by Jimmy Greaser, which ended up inciting the Oxford benching that allowed Oxford to come back and win).
Those PF/UNS penalties are a direct result of West Point's discipline, as shown in the six videos above. Penalties killed several drives for West Point back in September. Oxford's last game against West Point was in fact the second-least penalized game they had all season (Starkville was the least).
What I haven't talked about was how Oxford's offense just shredded West Point last meeting. Oxford scored 50 points in just 27 plays prior to the last drive that ran out the last 5:17 of the clock. Look for West Point to change things up in the secondary to stop the big plays that occurred in the last game.
Another thing is Oxford needs to get off the field on defense. Oxford did the Oklahoma drill right before kickoff, and it worked to start the game. Oxford forced a turnover on downs without allowing a first down on the first Germantown drive. That type of start is what Oxford will need to run away from West Point again.
We know about West Point's run game. We know about Oxford's air game. We know that the 5A North Half site is at Oxford again. At the end of the game, let's hope for nothing intentional by either side and no injuries as a result. As seen by those six videos, West Point has a reputation of not caring about anyone's well-being and are not good losers at all, so Oxford needs to be prepared for anything at anytime.
For Oxford to Win, They Must: Play A Complete Four-Quarter Effort On Defense - Oxford started well last week and defended the run extremely well (46 carries for just 109 yards last week). The secondary just blew some plays to allow Germantown to hang in there. West Point doesn't really have the QB-arm, but that doesn't mean they aren't effective. Stop the run and force passing situations.
Execute on Offense - West Point doesn't have the type of players they need in the secondary to stop the Chargers. Execute and Oxford should be fine.
For West Point to Win, They Must: Run Their Offense - Establishing the run is key. Playing keep away is a way to beat Oxford, but only if they...
Play A Lick Of Defense - They sure didn't play any last time. Oxford was on a clip of two points per play last meeting. Obviously they must do better on D to have any shot at coming back to Oxford next week.
Other Notes: This is the third straight year Oxford has hosted North Half for the right to go to the 5A State Championship. West Point has lost four straight to Oxford after having won at least 10 straight.