Who's Playing?: Oxford (0-0, #6 CL, #4 MP, #17 NTL (HSFB poll), #1 in 5A [MP]) vs. Southaven (0-0, #6 MP, #62 NTL (MP Computer poll)
What?: Season Opening Game
Where?: Bobby Holcomb Field
When?: Friday, August 21st @ 7:00 PM
How can you keep yourself updated?: 95.5 FM Radio, Bullseye955.com, @OxChargerSports Twitter account
The Lowdown: For what has been a roller coaster offseason for Oxford, they will finally take the field tomorrow night at Bobby Holcomb Field.
The announcement of head coach Johnny Hill's retirement after this season has made the team put extra effort into finishing the job this team has failed to do twice in a row.
Then came the arrests of Kenzie Phillips who has started at running back the last two years for Oxford and Kyree White who has been a lethal No. 3 receiver for Oxford that could easily be any other team's No. 1 wideout on June 30th. Both are currently out on bond and are facing seven counts of auto-burglary, which carry a federal prison sentence if convicted. As it stands now, they are both suspended from team activities until further notice. Likely until their court date that will determine their future.
As for this game, Southaven - also named the "Chargers" - had a tough time against Lafayette - a team Oxford has throttled the last three years - in their jamboree and lost that 10-9. This is Southaven's second straight trip to Oxford as they traveled to William L. Buford stadium last week. Southaven's offense was the culprit of their struggles as their quarterback is new from last year that had around 2/3rd's of its offense go through the air. The pass game was struggling as they gifted the 'Dores 7 of their 10 points in the jamboree. They must find something in the run game to help out the passing game with their experienced running back #1 Dea'undre Wallace back in the backfield. On the other hand, it will give this young Oxford defense that lost more than half of their players from last year possibly some confidence. The OHS coaches in prior newspaper reports has given this defense high praise in the offseason.
Southaven's defense was pretty solid all night long, they did not allow a touchdown to the 'Dores (though in the past, that hasn't exactly been hard to do). They are however facing an Oxford offense that still returns nine of their offensive players from last year including the entire offensive line, which will help out new running backs Drew Bianco and Josh Patton who will split time to start with unless one of them goes on a hot streak during the game. As usual, Jack Abraham, DK Metcalf, Jimmy Greaser, and Zach Cousar - expected to play after sitting out with an injury last week - will cause trouble through the air. Hiram Wadlington, Preston Perkins, Ken Presley will all contribute in the fourth wideout slot left vacated by Kyree White. White was hurt throughout region play last year, but so was Abraham during the same time period, but they have some idea already as to how to play without him.
Southaven knows what it is up against. While it is the polar opposite of South Panola who will run it at your throat, this is a good test against high quality talent they are expecting to face when their region play games come around. As for Oxford, this is a good test to see what they can and can't do with their new pieces they weren't expecting to insert two months ago.
For Oxford to Win, They Must: Don't Fix What Isn't Broken - DK Metcalf will still be double-covered, that still leaves one less man in the box. The running will be hurt a bit due to Phillips' ability to break tackles, but it should still be effective with a now experienced offensive line that returned everybody.
Play Assignment D - An entirely new starting LB corps. plus new DB's will test this defense against a normally solid 6A school that will fight. Southaven's offense after last week is still trying to find its identity, though it will probably try to find it by using last year's.
Don't Look Ahead - That should speak for itself...
For Southaven to Win, They Must: Find Some Offense - Nine points in two quarters isn't that bad, Lafayette's defense is usually its cornerstone. Needing to keep up with Oxford's offense, they need more than 18 points. To have a chance at this game, they need about 20 points by the time the fourth quarter comes around.
Have the Defense Make Plays - Last week showed Abraham is human. He threw a pick-six last week that kept Charleston in the game at the time. That would be a bonus if that happens, but the key is to keep Oxford out of the end zone. Touchdowns will hurt, Field Goals won't.
Other Notes: Oxford is 38-5 over the last three seasons, including 31-2 in the regular season during the stretch. Oxford is nationally preseason ranked in the Top 25 in any poll for the first time in school history (17 in the HSFB100 poll, 23 in the Xcellent Maxpreps Top 25).