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 (7-0 [3-0], #7 AP, #10 CL, #5 MPB, #9 USAT, #11 MP, #2 in 5A (AP)) @ Hernando (3-4 [1-2], NR)
Where?: Tiger Stadium in Hernando, MS (Directions? Click HERE)
When?: Friday, October 12th @ 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: The No. 7-ranked Oxford Chargers is coming off a dominating defensive victory, a 26-0 shutout to Lake Cormorant. While offensively there were several errors, defensively there were hardly any as they stopped the Gators Stone-Cold for much of the game and did not allow them to reach the end zone.
The Hernando Tigers are coming off a shutout of their own - a 19-0 win over winless in 1-5A New Hope who is still trying to find something to get going on offense. The win snapped Hernando's 4-game losing skid after they had started the season 2-0.
The Chargers are looking for a taste of revenge from after losing at home in overtime last year 31-30. A certain player probably had this game circled since fumbling the extra point FG snap that caused Hernando to win that game and ultimately decided who would go to the playoffs as the #4 seed in 1-5A. Oxford had several other chances to win that game last year as well but failed to capitalize on any of them to not even allow overtime to happen in the first place.
Hernando runs the "Wing-T" offense - a very old offense that used to be used in many high schools (though not near as many today). Long story short: It is a run-heavy "Wildcat-ish" offense with a rare pass play every now and then. The run heavy offense means that the clock will be running just about all the time while they are on the field. This also means fewer possessions for Oxford's balanced offense.
If Hernando is going to have any chance of pulling the upset, they must find a way to stuff Oxford's offense - which 7 teams has failed to do thus far - and score some points - which they have averaged just 12 points per game in their last 5 games in. 12 points will not cut it against Oxford - as they have yet to score less than 19 points in a game so far this year.
For Oxford to win, they must: Have no let downs on Defense - This is a complete reverse of an offense which Oxford had to prepare for an all out passing attack last week, to an all out running attack this week. The Wing-T Hernando runs is where the formation is set up like a wing and it looks like a T when looking at it from the end zone and all 11 players are very close to the ball. Very few wide receivers to cover. This involves a lot of trickeration in almost every play where there are multiple fake hand-offs. This involves discipline defense, because if one bad mistake is made, it is a race to the end zone. The defense must play assignment football and do it well in this game or this game can be a track meet.
Don't shoot yourself in the foot - three - THREE times Oxford was called back on Touchdowns because of stupid penalties last week and the Chargers had a Field Goal blocked as well. They allowed Lake Cormorant to stay it in for (until the last 2 minutes) most of the first two quarters. Thankfully, the OHS defense bailed them out. The offense must get off to a better start like they have been getting and not let teams like Hernando stick around, because teams like Saltillo and West Point will take advantage of that.
For Hernando to win, they must: Stay in the game, try to hang around - meaning defensively, give this team a chance. Hernando's defense is the best in terms of points allowed that Oxford has faced thus far (3rd behind ourselves and West Point in total points allowed in region play). Hernando has not scored a lot of points on offense (the most they have scored in region play is 19 against New Hope) and must rely on their defense to win ballgames, the same holds true here.
Block up front - the Tigers are going to run the ball, a lot. Their offensive line has to do their job in blocking some stout Charger defensive linemen or this will be a long night for Hernando. If they can block up front and win the battle in the trenches, they might just steal one kinda like they did last year.
Weather: 69*F & Mostly Cloudy at kickoff (10% chance of rain), temps are expected to dip just slightly to the mid-60s by the end of the game. Winds from the ENE-E of up to 8 MPH. (Weather is for Hernando, MS location)
Other Notes: Oxford can clinch a playoff birth Friday with a win over Hernando AND a Clarksdale win over Center Hill AND a New Hope win over Lake Cormorant. If those results happen, all 4 of the teams Oxford has played in the division thus far would be 1-3 (3 games behind Oxford at what would be a 4-0 record) in a 4-way tie for last with three games to play. Hernando is 0-3 at home this year (but 3-1 on the road).
*Note: All Spam WILL be deleted.