Note* - For the sake of priority ranking, AP - which was polled by the media - will be used for ranking purposes. Maxpreps uses computer rankings. If the Clarion-Ledger or AP ranks one team - who uses just a top 10 - but the other is not ranked in the MPB poll - who uses a top 25 - the AP/CL will be used. MPB poll will be used if teams are ranked outside the AP/CL top 10
What?: Seventh Region Game / Last Regular Season Game / Senior Night
Where?: Bobby Holcomb Field @ OHS
When?: Friday, November 8th @ 7:00 PM
How can you keep yourself updated?: 95.5 FM Radio, Bullseye955.com, @OxChargerSports Twitter Account, Channel 97 (Metrocast) Monday @ 6 PM.
The Lowdown: Amazing, it is the last game of the regular season already. Didn't seem that long ago we were counting down to face Jackson Prep to lead off the season.
Oxford has clinched the 1-5A title and the 1-seed going into the playoffs next week. Like last year, this game means nothing to Oxford in terms of movement in the regional standings. However, unlike last year, their opponent has something to play for. Oxford also needs to straighten up the 22 penalties it generated last week - FAR too many to commit and be successful consistently. Oxford has publicly said they are using this week to get into top form going into the playoffs next week - meaning the starters will start and play as long as they need to, likely until at least the second half. Lake Cormorant is fighting for the last playoff spot as a 4-seed after their setback to Clarksdale last week.
The Gators need Saltillo to lose to have any chance at the playoffs - if Saltillo wins against New Hope, they are in - regardless of this game's outcome. If Saltillo loses and Lake Cormorant defeats Oxford, the Gators are in. If Lake Cormorant loses, and Saltillo loses by at least 12 to New Hope AND Lake Cormorant loses by 11 or less to Oxford OR Clarksdale loses AND West Point wins (on Thursday - tonight), the Gators are in that way in a tiebreaker which I mentioned last week in another blog post.
Lake Cormorant likes to sling it around the field - in fact, they have thrown for more passing yards than Oxford this year. The Gators have also attempted more passes (318) than Oxford has (289). Running the ball is not their strong suit (averages just 4.8 yards a carry as a team) - and it may have likely what has cost Lake Cormorant a playoff spot when they lost to West Point this year. The Gators had a 21-0 lead at halftime only to not score in the second half and lose 24-21 - likely because of their inability to consistently run the ball.
This is a daunting task for the Gators to beat Oxford - who has an offense that has hardly been stopped at all this year, and a defense that has been consistent in stopping teams, getting out to big leads, and consistently having the second-string team on the field by the fourth quarter. I expect the Gators to come out firing, but I'm afraid it just won't be enough and whatever chances they have at the playoffs will be slammed shut when 10 PM rolls around Friday.
For Oxford to Win, They Must: Stop With All the Penalties - As bad as some were last week, 22 is way, way, WAY too many. Whatever it'd be holding, false starting, just quit it. High School referees are not always consistent, but they aren't wrong every single time.
Fix the Secondary - It was somewhat exposed last week, and that is part of the backbone of this defense. Much of that was the lack of effort Oxford gave against now 1-9 Center Hill. The good news, Oxford should be up to playing each week from here on out - as all remaining opponents will have winning records. This is a good team to fix it against, as the Gators like to throw it - probably more than Oxford does.
Put This Team Away - This is basically a playoff game for the Gators, and Oxford should also treat this like a playoff game. If Lake Cormorant wins and gets in and these two somehow meet again in the playoffs, let's just say confidence will be a factor.
For Lake Cormorant to Win, They Must: Play Desperate - They have to, their season is on the line. Their passing game needs to be clicking on all cylinders and have enough of a running game to keep Oxford off balanced. They did go 31-for-34 last week in the passing game. If they don't win, they need to still play hard and make this game as close as possible.
Establish a Running Game - This will be tough, because Oxford's run defense has been stout all year long and the Gator's run offense has not consistently ran the ball this year. 5 times Lake Cormorant has ran for a total of less than 120 rushing yards in a game. They are 2-4 in such games (and accounts for all of their losses).
Play for 48 Minutes - because their season really is on the line tonight. They do not have a very good chance if they lose Friday, especially by more than 12 points.
Other Notes: Oxford can go undefeated in the regular season for just the second time in school history with a win. Lake Cormorant has never defeated Oxford in football (Oxford is 4-0 all-time). Oxford will host either Ridgeland (if they lose), Vicksburg (if they win and Ridgeland beats Germantown), or Germantown (if they lose and Vicksburg loses) in the first round of the playoffs next week.