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?: Fifth Region Game
Where?: Bobby Holcomb Field @ OHS
When?: Friday, October 25th @ 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 scoring updates via Maxpreps at this LINK.
The Lowdown: To say this has been an up-and-down year for Clarksdale is an understatement.
Clarksdale is just two weeks removed from having a shooting occur during their Homecoming Parade before they played Saltillo. In turn, there was not a big turnout for that game which was a win. A week right before that, they had defeated West Point - on the road - in which their lead in that game was on life support, but held on.
Last week, the Wildcats blew a 17-point 4th quarter lead at Lewisburg - which was supposed to be a game played in Clarksdale but was not because of the shooting the previous week - and allowed the GW score with 34 seconds left. That was the same Lewisburg team that Oxford routed 40-9 the previous week and also had a running second half clock.
The Wildcats are really the only team threatening to take the 1-seed from the fifth-ranked Oxford Chargers right now. That threat is not much so thanks to the loss, but still a threat. The Chargers can basically wrap it up with a win tonight. They can officially do it if they get help from Center Hill to beat Lake Cormorant - the only team that would have a chance left if after Oxford beats Clarksdale.
If basing on the few weeks, Clarksdale is playing the season like Oxford did two years ago - not much defense, but plenty of offense on the ground and having to play close game after close game and not being able to hold on to a lead. Now they must face an Oxford defense that doesn't give up much - at all really lately - on the ground game. While Clarksdale does have some solid athletes playing on defense including JT Gray - a 4-star athlete by many recruiting services picked to the MS/AL All-Star game, being recruited as a CB - their defense is a complete wash. There has not been a game this season where Clarksdale has given up less than 21 points. In fact, the last time they did that it was against...Oxford, last year in their last game. While it was a loss, it was by a score of 14-11.
This is the biggest test Oxford has remaining against a sure-to-get-in playoff team. This is (basically) for the 1-5A title regardless of how the other games come out. If Oxford wins this game, they just need to win one of the next two regardless of other teams' outcomes. Oxford should just worry about Oxford this week and going into the playoffs.
For Oxford to Win, They Must: Stay Away From the "Gray" Areas - JT Gray is a solid defensive player, so Oxford's offense need to game plan around that player. The Wildcats really don't have a bad secondary, but their front 7 isn't the greatest. Running the ball, like they have all season, will be key.
Quit Shooting Your Foot - While believing two of the nine penalties Oxford got last week looked phantom, that is still too many. Holding being the main culprit. It needs to stop. 9, 10, and 7 are the amount of penalties the OFFENSE has generated alone against West Point, Saltillo, and New Hope alone. 26 offensive penalties in 3 of the last 4 games.
Stop Clarksdale's Run Game - that is their offense. This team likes to use misdirection. That usually means one of three players will handle the ball nearly every single play with a pass wrinkle every now and then. They have been good, they beat West Point with it. The Wildcats have scored at least 36 points in each region game so far. They need to do that against against a consistent Oxford team that has stopped everybody so far.
For Clarksdale to Win, They Must: Put Last Week Behind You - this team blew a 17-point 4th quarter lead allowing Lewisburg - who the week previous had a running 2nd Half clock against Oxford in a 40-9 rout - to come back with 27 4th quarter points and win the game to keep their playoff hopes alive. Clarksdale needs to look ahead, the 1-seed is still in reach, but they can't afford a hiccup now. This has been a tough stretch all around lately, but it has to get out of their mind - the loss, and what has happened in the city of Clarksdale itself.
Stay Disciplined - on defense especially. They know Oxford's offense can motor when it gets going. New Hope kept Jack Abraham off rhythm most of the night but couldn't stop Kenzie Phillips when they ran it. Their front line needs to be ready for the run while defending the pass.
Win First Down - on both sides of the ball. With Clarksdale's run-heavy offense, they need 2nd and 3rd & shorts and not be placed in a position to throw it. Defensively, it goes without saying that they need to make plays if they want to slow down this offense and to be the first team to hold Oxford to less than 30 on the year. It starts on First Down though to put the Chargers behind the chains.
Other Notes: Oxford will clinch a home game for the first round of the playoffs with a win Friday. Oxford can clinch the 1-5A Title and the No. 1 seed from 1-5A with a win AND a Lake Cormorant loss Friday. Oxford is looking to go 9-0 in back-to-back years in football for the first time in school history.