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.
What?: The Crosstown Classic
Where?: William L. Buford Stadium @ LHS
When?: Friday, September 13th @ 7:00 PM
How can you keep yourself updated?: 95.5 FM Radio, Bullseye955.com, @OxChargerSports Twitter Account, Channel 97 (Metrocast) Monday @ 6 PM, LIVE online-streaming via the NFHS Network at this LINK.
The lowdown: This Crosstown Classic seemed to sneak up on us this year. Probably because there won't be any national cameras looking at us this time. It wasn't even on my mind until Sunday. Coupled that Oxford won 19-0 last year that ended a 6-game losing skid to the Commodores so that monkey on our backs has been an afterthought.
This year, Oxford is the favorite to win this game. This time it is the Chargers that are ranked in the top 10 instead of the other way around. Lafayette has been playing more of the underdog role, losing to 6A Tupelo at THS, they got by Corinth and used their defense to beat Desoto Central last week. That defense really needs to prepare against this fast-paced Oxford offense that has scored nearly 35 points per game to this point. Their offense is really the team that should be motivated this year. The 'Dores were shutout by Oxford on the national stage in last year's Classic.
This is also the first home game Lafayette will have with their newly installed artificial turf. You would think this would be a problem for Oxford. It's not - the vast majority of these players were part of the first little-league football team started up by Michael Abraham - yes Jack's dad - and played many of their games inside Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on the Ole Miss campus and some at South Panola who also has had an artificial turf surface for many years now.
This is a rivalry game, so we should always expect a close game regardless of records for both teams. It's also at Lafayette this year, so Oxford shouldn't come in here thinking this is a cake walk - especially in comparison to the first three weeks. It is also worth noting Oxford has not won at Lafayette since 2002 - before they redid the field the last time.
Oxford needs to expect the kitchen sink and Lafayette's mamas - because that is how much it means for them to win this game.
For Oxford to win, they must: Make the Commodores One-Diminesional - Meaning take away their best player: Speedster DK Buford - he does most of the running and their leading receiver and is responsible for 70% of Lafayette's scoring. Oxford simply needs to make someone else beat them and not have Buford do so.
Get Out to a Fast Start - I mean that literally as I say it figuratively speaking as well. Oxford needs the quick start it saw last week against East Side when their offense put the Chargers up 21-0 last week in the first quarter. Oxford has not put up more than 21 on the 'Dores in regulation since 2005 and had numerous chances to score Touchdowns last year but didn't. This year, Oxford could very well get past their record-high 35 points in the Crosstown Classic, having never put up more than 35 ever against Lafayette - Oxford has the offense to break that 35-point mark this year.
Stay Focused! - I may as well put this up, because all the Football players will see at school is the Red Lafayette shirts the students will wear because of the "Spirit" Day that is this week and gives them an excuse to wear them - it is always double-duty to stay Focused on the task at hand and will need to do so again, and this time they'll have the task of staying focused on the road.
For Lafayette to win, they must: Find DK Buford - That is their guy on offense. He will play RB and play the slot WR position. 7 of Lafayette's 10 Touchdowns so far this season has come through him either on the ground or in the air. If Lafayette is going to beat Oxford, that is their go-to man to do so.
NO TURNOVERS! - Lafayette through 3 games has 9 Turnovers. I never thought I would see the day Lafayette would turn the ball over that much. The reason why LHS has seemingly faltered as a program lately is not allowing the Turnover to happen. Obviously that cannot happen in this game or this game will be over quickly.
Slow Down Oxford - Meaning slow the tempo down when Oxford is on the field. Lafayette needs to make a play on defense and act like the first down marker is the end zone. Why? On 64% of drives Oxford gets at least one first down on, they turn into scores - 56% of all drives this season, a Touchdown. The hurry-up offense gets going when Oxford gets that "first" first down.
Other Notes: Lafayette leads the overall series 24-16-2 including the playoff game in 2004. Jack Abraham is on pace to throw for 40 passing TD's in the regular season - that would smash the single-season record held by Guy Cameron Billups (33) by the Center Hill game. The leading Charger in all-purpose yards-from-scrimmage is only responsible for 18% of all yardage (Kenzie Phillips). This is the 43rd Meeting between the schools and the 42nd time a trophy was on the line.