Who's Playing?: Oxford (6-2 [4-0 in Region 1-5A], #3 AP, #5 CL/MP, #1 in 5A [All polls]) vs. Clarksdale (6-3 [3-1], NR)
What?: Fifth Region 2-5A Game
Where?: Bobby Holcomb Field
When?: Friday, October 23rd @ 7:00 PM
How can you keep yourself updated?: 95.5 FM Radio with Don Brooks and Denny Tosh on the call, Bullseye955.com, @OxChargerSports Twitter account (Link: HERE), LIVE online streaming thru WSN at this website 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 Clarksdale for the game)
The Lowdown: Oxford has been through West Point and the current "winless trio" and are 4-0 in Region 1-5A. The Chargers will face clearly three of the four hardest opponents remaining. Oxford can clinch a playoff berth with a win over Clarksdale. This is due to Clarksdale having yet to play Center Hill or Lake Cormorant yet and those two teams play each other this week. One of those teams will be 3-2 and if Clarksdale drops to 3-2, the loser between Lake Cormorant and Center Hill or Clarksdale will have three losses in the region by the time it is all said and done.
Simple terms: This is a big game for both teams.
I will play devil's advocate; if Clarksdale pulls the upset, it will make 1-5A messy. Currently Oxford is in the driver's seat at 4-0 and four teams are riding their bumper at 3-1.
Now let's look realistically: Oxford should win this game without much problem. This is unlike last year where Oxford was playing their back-up quarterback where Ben Bianco had his worst game and the offense went caput in the second half because the playbook couldn't be opened up with as many backups as there were in this game. Clarksdale defense should be given credit where credit is due for figuring out Oxford's reduced offense last year.
This year, Jack Abraham is back for this game and just has not missed a beat after throwing a baseball game against Madison Central. It will be difficult for Clarksdale to defend Abraham's pinpoint accuracy to his wideouts and an underestimated running game that I believe isn't being utilized enough even without Kenzie Phillips. Hiram Wadlington has shown he can run the football and has shown some "Dexter McCluster" vision when out in the open.
Clarksdale certainly has its work cut-out for in this game. This isn't exactly a must win situation for the Wildcats given Clarksdale has yet to face two of the teams they are currently tied with in Lake Cormorant and Center Hill, but the Wildcats will give their A game, and Oxford better bring its A game as well. Plenty to play for here.
For Oxford to Win, They Must: Stop the Run Game - We are back with a traditional high school team that gets more rushing yards than passing yards. Clarksdale has traditionally not had much of a passing game. Forcing Clarksdale to run a lot of their few passing plays in their playbook will see some positive Charger results.
Continue to Execute on Offense - Playing the tough teams such as Starkville, Madison Central, Lafayette, and Southaven early has allowed Region play to be a breeze. The Charger offense is clicking everywhere and shows no signs of stopping soon.
Clean Up the Kicking Game - Not on onside kicks, but on field goals and extra points. One PAT got blocked, another was a straight miss, a field goal was short (but was with the third-string kicker), and another was shanked wide.
For Clarksdale to Win, They Must: Stop Oxford's Offense - Easier said than done to say the least. I don't have to say how tough it is to matchup with Oxford's wideouts and win a few battles. Clarksdale also needs to be mindful of Oxford's run game, not just focus on the two Dandy Dozens.
No Cheap Points - That means be alert when Oxford tries to get an extra possession with an onside kick, no fumbles, no ill-advised passes, no punt blocks, nothing that gives the dangerous Oxford offense a short field. Hard to not do that at all the whole game, but it must be limited to a bare minimum.
Keep Possession - Putting out long drives and getting points has proven to work. Keeping Oxford's offense on the sideline for long periods of time and the chance they get out of rhythm is their best bet in this game.
Other Notes: Abraham Tracker - He needs 629 yards to reach 10,000 career yards. Abraham surpassed 100 career touchdown passes last week on his fifth of seven touchdown passes against New Hope and currently has 102. The seven touchdown passes last week is also a school record for touchdown passes in a single game.