Where?: Crumpton Field @ Clarksdale, MS (Directions? Click HERE)
When?: Friday, November 2nd @ 7:00 PM
How can you keep up?: 95.5 FM Radio, Bullseye955.com, @OxChargerSports Twitter Account, Oxford Score Updates page on my website using the hashtag #themhills, Channel 97 (Metrocast) Monday @ 6 PM.
The lowdown: This game is a lot less anticipated than it was last year. Both teams were fighting for a playoff spot and both needed to win this game to make the playoffs.
This year, both teams fates have been decided already.
Oxford is locked to the number two-seed in the playoffs after their loss to West Point last week who is locked to the number one-seed. Oxford is a full two games ahead to the potential 3-seed which is either Center Hill, Saltillo or Lake Cormorant - all of which Oxford has tiebreakers on anyway - and therefore cannot drop lower than a 2-seed even with a loss.
Clarksdale is the exact opposite, they are mathematically out of the playoffs. They are just 1 game back of Center Hill, Saltillo and Lake Cormorant and could tie for 4th with a win and a Center Hill loss - however Clarksdale has lost to all three of those teams, therefore the Wildcats do not have a tiebreaker to take the 4-seed away from them.
So for both teams, this game means nothing in terms of either making the playoffs or getting a better (or worse) seed for the playoffs, both teams' fates have been decided.
However, that does not mean that they have nothing to play for. Oxford needs to fix a bunch of stuff that was finally exposed by West Point last week - defensively, they missed a lot of tackles especially in the first half. Offensively (like it has all year) when Oxford reached the Red Zone, they failed to score twice and turned the ball over on downs. Special Teams also was not up to par.
Clarksdale is playing for pride - this used to be a program that routinely not just made the playoffs, but playing for the North Half and even State Championship games. The Wildcats used to be a dangerous program to deal with year in and year out. Back in 2004 when Oxford went over to Clarksdale, Oxford committed a unbelievable 10 turnovers in the game and lost 53-2 - that is how good they were. Clarksdale is playing to find a positive out of this season and take it with them to next season.
For Oxford to win, they must: Tackle Better - the Second Quarter against West Point was the worst tackling display they have put forth all season. Three of West Point's four Touchdowns they got in that quarter was directly related to missed tackles and it snowballed after the first time it happened. The same thing cannot happen to Clarksdale - luckily this game means a whole lot of nothing now since Oxford is locked in to the number two-seed in this region, so they have this game to fix the tackling job they gave last week.
Quit stalling in the Red Zone - Oxford twice was held on fourth down in the red zone last week - as has been the case much of the year - and came away empty-handed. That time it cost the Chargers. If they are to find a formula to score from inside 20 yards out, this week is the week to do it right before the playoffs begin in a game that means nothing to playoff position.
For Clarksdale to win, they must: Play Loose - Clarksdale will not make the playoffs and they have nothing else to play for but pride. This used to be a proud program that had goals of winning the state championship every year, not just making the playoffs. This team does not have to play tight because there is no next game for them, their season will be over after Friday Night. They need to play loose and have some fun.
Find positives to take into next year - this program is in a state that needs to build on something, it has tumbled as fast as the Ole Miss Football program did after Eli Manning left prior to this year. A win over Oxford could go a LONG way for this program that used to REALLY challenge top-notch programs like South Panola and West Point to the brink. Even if they do not beat the Chargers, if they play a respectable game, that is something they can build on for next season - they are desperate for something to go right.
Weather (for the Clarksdale, MS location): Clear, no chance of rain, 65*F at Kickoff, it will be near 60*F by the end of the game. Winds will be from the ENE at 2-8 MPH (which will be a crosswind to the Oxford sideline, their field runs N-S)
Other Notes: Crumpton Field is named after Dan E. Crumpton - that is Toler Presley's Grandfather. He will be the first relative to the person that the field is named after to play on this field. His older brother Curt Presley, a 3-year starter when at OHS, missed his only game of his career during Oxford's only trip to Clarksdale in his 3-year time at OHS. Oxford will start an 8th Grader on the Offensive Line Friday Night (Colton Skidmore). Oxford is waiting to find out the opponent for next week's playoff game, which will be the 3-seed from 2-5A. If Callaway wins their game next week, it will be Callaway that will visit Oxford next week. Should they lose, it will either be Neshoba Central or Provine that will come and visit Bobby Holcomb Field next week.