Who's Playing?: Oxford (7-1 [4-0 in 1-5A], #6 AP, #4 CL, #5 MP [#85 Nat'l], #1 in 5A [CL]) vs. Clarksdale (4-4 [2-2 in 1-5A], NR)
What?: Fifth Region Game
Where?: Bobby Holcomb Field
When?: Friday, October 24th @ 7:00 PM
How can you keep yourself updated?: 95.5 FM Radio, Bullseye955.com, 105.7 FM WROX (Clarksdale area), 1450 AM (Clarksdale area), @OxChargerSports Twitter account
The Lowdown: Oxford walks into Clarksdale boasting an offense that has scored at least 41 points in every game since losing to Starkville.
Clarksdale up until last week at Lewisburg hasn't scored more than 20 points. That does not bode well for this matchup.
Clarksdale though has won games because of an improved defense from last year. The Wildcats average giving up 24.5 PPG which is better than several of the teams Oxford has faced and will face this season and has not allowed a 40+ point game this season. This team did hold Saltillo and the dangerous Diamante Pounds to 15 points and won that game (at Saltillo no less). The Wildcats are in position to steal the 4-seed away and make the playoffs with the current standings. This team does have winless Lake Cormorant and struggling Center Hill left after Oxford this week. Clarksdale although clearly not as talented as Oxford really do not have too much to lose entering this game. They can build positives heading into the last two games of the season where they will likely be favorites. Both of those teams Clarksdale has yet to face Oxford will face as well and Clarksdale has beaten Lewisburg. The odds to make the playoffs are in Clarksdale's favor.
However they are outmatched in this game with a potent offense and a solid defense in Oxford. If they can get something consistent, they will be able to build up for the last two games. Oxford has to continue the rhythm they have established with Ben Bianco at QB. The Chargers do not plan on having the let down like they did against New Hope in the first half up until the targeting call on a blow to the head by a New Hope defender on DK Metcalf fired everyone up.
While Oxford does not need to have an L from here on out, I don't think it should matter to Clarksdale this week if they get the W or L. They know it is likely they will lose, but if the chance is there for that W, what do they have to lose?
For Oxford to Win, They Must: Establish the Running Game - With Abraham still out for another game, Bianco, Kenzie Phillips and company will need to continue pounding the ball for the Chargers. DK Metcalf is still out there, which requires double-coverage and takes a man away from the box.
No Let Down Defensively - Clarksdale doesn't score much, but the Chargers cannot have a week like last Friday where one player guessed the wrong hole and the running back 92 yards later is in the end zone. The defense needs to come out like they did in the second half after the targeting call.
For Clarksdale to Win, They Must: Play Loose - This is a game they don't need to think about the result with two winnable games left on the schedule. Execution of their plays will play a key role in this game. If they play without regard of the result, they might just come away with it.
Give the Wildcat Offense a Chance - This team relies on their defense to win games. Obviously facing a team that has scored at will against every team they have faced in the past two years will be a tough assignment. The Clarksdale offense won't score every time they have the ball, but they must move the ball and at least win the field position battle.
Other Notes: With a win, Oxford will have clinched a playoff berth and a home game in the playoffs. Clarksdale has not beaten Oxford at home since 2008. Ken Presley will be the first Presley to play on the field named after his Grandfather (Curt was injured when he chance came, Toler was also injured when his chance came, but did enter the field for one play).