Who's Playing?: Oxford (11-1 [2-seed from 1-5A], #19 MP & USAT, #6 in 5A) @ Starkville (9-3 [1-seed from 2-5A], #21 MP, #20 USAT, #7 in 5A)
What?: 2nd Round of the 5A Playoffs
Where?: Starkville High Football Field @ Babe Ruth Park
(Directions? Look to the right column ----> )
When?: Friday, November 16th @ 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: You can forget the "Egg Bowl" talk, this is not the Egg Bowl - that belongs to the two colleges that reside in these towns.
However, this matchup may spark some bad blood between the two high schools because of the fact those colleges reside in those towns - and you have the ego-loving Dan Mullen to thank for that for disrespecting anything coming out of Oxford.
Besides those points, the fact of the matter is that Starkville is the defending North Half Champions in Football and Oxford is standing in their way for their shot of being North Half Champions again. Starkville won their game last week to get to this point, defeating Saltillo 45-7. Oxford won their game as well to reach the second round defeating Provine 27-14.
Starkville has an offense - a potent one - similar to what West Point and Lafayette runs (mostly shotgun, QB/RB combo threat). While Lafayette was stoned in their attack, West Point showed what it can do if you do not tackle - this is the exact same case here. Get used to hearing Gabe Myles' name - he is their QB and their main reason they reached the State Championship Game last year. Starkville does not rely on one back, they have three backs that they use - two of which have each rushed for at least 600 yards and the other for 400.
Its worth noting that Myles was out for the first three games of the year in which they went 1-2, so those 3 losses are deceiving to how good they have been. On Myles' first game back they played West Point and lost 47-22, so that may just be a case of his first game jitters as he had two of his three interceptions so far on the year in that game.
Their defense has been suffocating - they have posted 5 shutouts on the year and have only given up 8.4 points per game if you discount the 47 they gave up to West Point. Oxford has the task of having to move the ball against this defense.
For Oxford to win, they must: Contain the run threat - and make them throw it. Myles has only completed 47% of his passes - the lowest Oxford has seen in any opponent this year. If they stuff their running threat that Myles provides, throwing is their only option - and we saw what happened when Provine had to throw the ball. Oxford had 4 interceptions last week.
Don't fire the gun - and shoot yourself in the foot. Oxford has been hampered with penalties the past few weeks that has really hurt them. Oxford has had more penalties than the other team in more games than not throughout the season and is really why many opponents have stayed in games - just do not commit these silly penalties they should be ironed out by now.
Find ways to score - and not just when Oxford gets into the Red Zone which they have struggled to score in much of the year. This defense is the toughest they have faced since the Lafayette game (on paper anyways) and they are going to take their points where they can get them. Cody Mills cannot afford to have one of his off nights we have seen from him lately - Mills just needs to be accurate on his kicks, we know how far he can kick it - that is not the problem. It is very likely Oxford will have to settle for Field Goals at times, and that is fine on a defense that does not give up a lot.
For Starkville to win, they must: Run with Myles for Miles - he is their key player. Just by looking at what they did without him early on in the season, he is the one that does it all running and throwing. Points will be hard to come by if he is stopped, so Oxford needs to stop him however they can. Oxford needs to play assignment football if they are to stop him and his lethal running backs that are lethal because of what Myles can do.
Take advantage of the mistakes - Oxford seems to make several every week, so it is not a matter of if, it is a matter of when Oxford makes a mistake either by turnover, penalty that keeps drive alive, or a busted coverage play - take advantage. Oxford will make a play if you allow them to keep them in it long enough to seal your fate for this season.
Play assignment football - Oxford can run it or throw it with Parker Adamson behind center. Starkville needs to account for everybody on defense because anyone on the Chargers can make a play and score at any given time. One missed assignment could mean 7 points for Oxford.
Weather: At kickoff (for the Starkville, MS location): 51*F, Clear (No chance of Rain), Winds from the North at 2-8 MPH. Temps expected to drop to the mid-40s by the end of the game.
Other Notes: Oxford is looking to earn a bid to the North Half Championship game for the first time since 2005. If Oxford wins and West Point is the opponent - Oxford will HOST the North Half Championship. If Oxford wins and Ridgeland is the opponent - Oxford will TRAVEL to face Ridgeland for North Half. This is the first meeting since before the MHSAA (1980) was created for the two high schools in football.
DIRECTIONS TO STARKVILLE HIGH SCHOOL (from Oxford):
1 - Take Miss-6/US-278 West (23 Miles)
2 - Turn Right to W. Oxford St. towards West Pontotoc (Miss-338/Old Miss-6) Continue past the Miss-9 JCT to Spur St. (7 Miles)
3 - Turn Right to Miss-15 South (2 Miles)
4 - Continue STRAIGHT at the 4-way Stop to Miss-41 South (22 Miles)
5 - Turn Left to Miss-32 East / Miss-41 South (1/3 Mile)
6 - Turn Right to Miss-245 South towards West Point (5 Miles)
7 - Turn Right to US-45 ALT South towards West Point (31 Miles)
8 - Bear Right to US-82 West (8 Miles)
9 - Take the Miss-12 Exit to Miss-12 West towards Starkville/MSU (4 Miles)
10 - Turn left onto Eckford Dr. (1/3 Mile)
The Football Field will be on the Left.
Total Distance: 103 Miles
Key: MP = Maxpreps, USAT = USA Today, NR = Not Ranked / For ranking use in the article, the seed that team earned from their region will be used. The ranking in 5A will be from MP.
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