Who's Playing?: Oxford (2-0, #22 MPB, #7 in 5A) vs. Lafayette (2-0, #5 CL, MPB, & Maxpreps, #6 AP, #1 in 4A)
Where?: Bobby Holcomb Field @ OHS
When?: Thursday, August 30th @ 7:10 PM Kickoff
How can you keep up?: National TV on Fox Sports South w/ play-by-play by OHS alum Richard Cross, 95.5FM Radio, Bullseye955.com Website (listen LIVE) (LINK), OxChargerSports Twitter Account (LINK - pssst, follow me!), Oxford Sports Update Page on this website using the hashtag #themhills (LINK), on the MHSAA TV website (LINK), Channel 97 on Monday, September 17th at 6PM (by TV agreement, the game cannot be replayed until at least 2 weeks after the game).
The lowdown: It will be 2,490 Days since Oxford last held possession of the Crosstown Classic Trophy. The last time Oxford won the trophy, Oxford went undefeated in the regular season for the only time in school history, that was nearly 7 years ago.
It took Lafayette 6 quarters this season before their offense finally found the right track and were able to score 3 Touchdowns on offense. LHS does have 3 pick-6s, which bodes well for them as OHS QB Parker Adamson has thrown 2 pick-6s so far this season.
As we all know, this game will be televised nationally on Fox Sports South. Oxford has shown in both games that they are not looking at that game until they need to (which is of course now). They beat Grenada, a team the Chargers lost to last year, and beat Charleston who is the defending 3A State Champions and snapped them a 15-game winning streak. Oxford has taken care of their business.
The challenge though is tougher, Oxford must stop Lafayette's State-best 34-game win streak, a team that is a 2-time defending 4A State Champion and has won 6 in a row over Oxford. Lafayette had an extremely tough time with Tupelo which they struggled to win 8-3. They were finally able to run away from Greenwood last week 41-0 after a sluggish start.
If those two games Lafayette played is any indicator, it is that Lafayette is beatable. In 4 of those last 6 losses, 2 have gone to Overtime and 2 had Oxford with a 14 point lead at one point in the game. One of them Oxford was just 6 yards away from winning.
The Crosstown Classic will not be without unwelcome company. Hurricane Isaac will play a big role in the conditions for the game. There is a 60% chance for the actual game. Winds will range anywhere from 10-25 MPH coming from the East-Southeast.
For Oxford to win they must: STAY FOCUSED! - that cannot be told enough. Forget all the TV distractions, forget all the Lafayette gear the OHS Cheerleaders WILL wear on Thursday, forget about the air time you are fixing to get during the game. Focus on beating Lafayette, a team that has owned Oxford in Football and has became a prime program in the state. Nothing else should matter. All that should be thought out this week is executing the game plan.
Contain the 2-headed Monster that is LHS QB Brandon Mack and super-speedster RB DK Buford. The offense will go through them, a lot. Mack is a lot easier than Jeremy Liggins is to tackle and likely one of the biggest reasons Lafayette has struggled on offense this year. The OHS Defense, like last week, needs to make Lafayette drive the ball for double-digit plays. If they get loose, it will be a long night.
Move the chains - and keep the football! Lafayette's offense has been less than it was but not the defense which has allowed just a 50-yard FG against Tupelo so far and has produced 3 Touchdowns on the scoreboard via the pick-6s. Oxford has averaged 3 Turnovers per game so far, that has to come down. With Hurricane Isaac bringing all the rain for the game, this is a priority.
Find out what can Brown do for you? - Nick Brown already has 4 Touchdowns this season. You know the Commodore defense will key in on him - even if he's only played 2 Varsity Football Games his entire high school career.
And finally stay patient - it is a long game and that defense should be able to hold down Lafayette's offense if Oxford's offense gets stuck in neutral. The right plays will come. Oxford has scored a Touchdown against Lafayette every year that Coach Johnny Hill has been the head coach at OHS.
For Lafayette to win they must: Have someone step up and make the play - that has been the IMO in the Crosstown Classic for the Dores. In the first of those six losses, Lafayette went for two to win and got it on a 3-yard run. If Oxford makes a stop, who knows where this series is at right now. In the second loss, former QB Matthew Shaw could not make a play to tie the game up and Lafayette's defense came up big in Overtime. Two years ago, Guy Billups was stripped with Oxford on the LHS 6 going for a game-winning drive that sunk Oxford's chances late.
Do what you have done the last 34 games - and that is be mistake free (besides winning). LHS is a team that does not turn the ball over. That is what wins football games, every coach has said it and it is usually easier to say than do. Lafayette does not commit many penalties either or blow an assignment on defense.
'Cash in' in the red - Meaning score in the red zone, inside the opponent's 20 yard line - something LHS has not really done in both games so far. Oxford has shown to come up big when backed up against the wall in key situations this year.
Weather: Hurricane Isaac will very likely be downgraded back to Tropical Storm or even Depression status by kickoff. For 7:00 PM, Thundershowers are forecasted with a 60% chance of rain. It'll be 82*F at kickoff falling to 77*F by the end of the game. Winds will be from the ESE at 14-21 MPH.
Other Notes: This is the 42nd meeting all-time between the two schools and the 41st playing for the Crosstown Classic trophy. This will be my 100th game to film for the OHS Football Team. Lafayette won last year's meeting 40-12.
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