Key: MP = Maxpreps, USAT = USA Today, MPB = Mississippi Public Broadcast, AP = Associated Press, CL = Clarion-Ledger, NR = Not Ranked / For ranking use in the article, AP will be used first, if not ranked in AP (uses only Top 10) then CL (only Top 10), then MPB, then USA Today, then Maxpreps
Who's Playing?: Oxford (9-0 [5-0], #6 AP & MPB, #7 CL, #11 MP & USAT, #2 in 5A (AP)) @ West Point (7-2 [5-0], #8 AP, #6 CL, #7 MPB & USAT, #9 MP, #2 in 5A (CL)) *Note: West Point unranked in 5A in AP poll
Where?: West Point High School in West Point, MS (Directions? Click HERE)
When?: Friday, October 26th @ 7:00 PM
How can you keep up?: 95.5 FM Radio, Bullseye955.com, @OxChargerSports Twitter Account, @WP_Athletics Twitter Account, Oxford Score Updates page on my website using the hashtag #themhills, View Online at misshsaa.tv/Westpoint, Channel 97 (Metrocast) Monday @ 6 PM.
The lowdown: The stage is set. No. 6 Oxford and No. 8 West Point both coming in undefeated in region play with the 1-5A Region Title and all that comes with it on the line when they meet in West Point Friday Night.
West Point comes in at 7-2 overall, but the 2 they lost to are powerhouse football teams in Noxubee County who is the top ranked team in 4A and traditional 6A-powerhouse South Panola by a combined total of 8 points. They have also beaten defending 5A North Half Champion Starkville.
Oxford comes in with a 9-0 record that includes defeating the defending 3A AND 2x 4A champion in Charleston and Lafayette respectively. Charleston is currently the top-ranked team in 3A which is full of undefeated teams. Everybody saw the game against Lafayette as that was nationally televised earlier in the year.
These two have gotten to their 5-0 unbeaten 1-5A records with their defenses - West Point has given up 45 points so far and Oxford has given up 51, the two best in 1-5A.
I have said all season that Oxford has to pass 3 tests this season if they want to be successful this season besides winning it all at the end. Number one: Defeat Lafayette and end the streak. Accomplished with a 19-0 win in front of hundreds of thousands. Number two: Defeat New Hope and end their strangle hold over us in football. Accomplished with an ugly 29-17 win. Number three: Defeat West Point, a team we have never beaten in football but have come close several times.
If Oxford is going to pass this last test before heading into the playoffs, they must play mistake free and play their brand of football they have been using all year: Defense and Special Teams and the Offense will take care of itself.
For Oxford to win, they must: Have Parker Adamson take better care of the football - For a Quarterback who is trying to be recruited by colleges, his interception count needs to be lower. He has 12 of the 17 turnovers (all 12 interceptions) Oxford has committed this season. It was because of Adamson taking care of the football Oxford won games at all last year, he needs to have a turnover-free game if Oxford is to finally pull one over on West Point. The Special Teams game for Oxford will be able to pin them back, just take care of the football and give this defense a chance.
Stop the two-headed monster - that is Tez Lane and Aeris Williams, the QB/RB duo that does the most damage for the Green Wave. Their offense is run similar to Lafayette's except the two are better equipped for their positions. Williams is more of a true RB and Lane is a better QB than Brandon Mack was. The Oxford defense MUST be prepared for this attack and not allow them to run loose. They have been shutout before so it CAN be done, now WILL it be done?
Score Touchdowns in the Red Zone - the time for mulligans is over for the Red Zone woes. If West Point stops Oxford from scoring in the Red Zone, they are the type of team that might not let you get back in there. Oxford HAS to score when inside their 20 on offense. Field Goals and flat-out missed opportunities will cost the Chargers if they happen this go around.
For West Point to win, they must: Clamp down on defense - Oxford has been a throwing team for the past decade, but in Oxford's past 4 games and in 7 of the 9 games thus far, they have thrown for less than 200 yards each time - and won. That means Oxford has been able to run the football and been able to win games. Everyone knows that has played Oxford that their passing attack is dangerous. All 11 players must be able to slow down this Oxford offense.
Get the Lane & Williams show rolling - they are the two that make the West Point offense go. If they can move on a stout Oxford defense, this will be a long night for Charger fans.
Neutralize the Special Teams game - Oxford without a doubt has an edge on Special Teams with a do-it-all kicker that has averaged better than 40 yards a punt, kicked several Field Goals, executed several onside kicks, kick the kickoffs for Touchbacks, and the kickoff coverage team has not allowed a kickoff return to their own end of the field. Not to mention Oxford has blocked two punts, one returned for a Touchdown, and had another two punts go for Safeties in their last two games. West Point just cannot fall apart in this aspect of the game and allow Oxford a chance they really should not have by giving them the "hidden" yardage and points that should not happen.
Weather (for the West Point, MS location): At 7:00 PM kickoff, 66*F and Partly Cloudy (10% chance of rain), Winds will be from the N-NNW at 5-15 MPH (it will be a cross wind as the field is E-W). Temps are expected to be close to 60*F by the end of the game.
Other Notes: Oxford has never beaten West Point in football in school history. This game will decide who will be the #1 and #2 seeds in region 1-5A in the 5A playoffs.
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