Coverage Breakdown: West Point @ Oxford
Players to Watch:
West Point Green Wave
Marcus Murphy- At the conclusion of the regular season, Murphy was named as the Region 1-5A MVP. The Mississippi state junior running back commit has carried the ball 181 times for 1,395 yards and has scored 19 touchdowns on the ground. He scored West Point’s only two offensive touchdowns and rushed for 169 yards the last time these two teams played each other earlier in the year. He will need to have another good performance against a stingy Charger defense if his team wants to be successful.
Clayton Knight- The Saltillo transfer dual-threat quarterback has elevated West Point’s passing game since his arrival. Knight has completed 77 of his 138 passes for 1,188 yards and has thrown 15 touchdowns, only four interceptions. If his team’s run game fails, West Point will need to depend on Knight’s arm to carry them to victory.
Andre Lane- He has been a great backup to Murphy this season at running back. Lane ranks second on the team with 665 rushing yards on 120 carries. He has scored eight times on the ground.
Terence Cherry- The 1st team All-Region defensive lineman has been a wrecking ball all season. Cherry has totaled 69 tackles and a whooping 14 sacks. Cherry will look to do more damage this time around against Oxford to get him and his team to play in the North Half Championship game.
Xavier Fair- the junior linebacker leads the Green Wave in tackles with 71 on the year. Fair also has three sacks and an interception.
Hiram Wadlington- After getting only 46 rushing yards combined against Center Hill and Lake Cormorant, Wadlington had a stellar 161 yard, two touchdown performance against Grenada, one of 5A’s toughest defenses. The junior tailback has carried the ball 224 times for 1,183 yards and has scored 12 touchdowns on the season. Wadlington will have to come up big once again if they want to play next week in the North Half Championship game.
John Reece McClure- The first year starter at quarterback has gone 163-285 for 2344 passing yards and threw for 22 touchdown passes and 10 interceptions. McClure will look to improve on his 86 yard passing performance earlier in the year against West Point.
Jaquan Webb- The big play receiver has speed that kills, running a 10.64 in the 100m dash. Webb has been solid coming off on a turf toe injury that sidelined him for five weeks. Webb has caught 18 passes for 365 yards and has scored a team high six touchdowns receiving.
Quentin Wilfawn- Statistically, Wilfawn may be one of the most decorated linebackers in the history of Oxford High School. Recently, Wilfawn won the SES Mississippi 5A Player of the Year award and earned 1st team All-Region honors too. On the season, He has mind blowing 167 tackles on the season, he also has 13 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, and two interceptions. Wilfawn will look to have another great performance like he did in the September meeting between these two teams.
D.Q. Thomas- The safety/linebacker hybrid is the unquestioned leader of not just the Chargers’ defense, but the entire team as a whole. Thomas has scored three defensive touchdowns in the last seven games. On the season, he has 111 tackles ranking second on the team. Thomas also leads the team in interceptions with five and has three fumble recoveries.
Keys to the Game:
Can West Point play clean offensively? West Point has been able to run at will against many of the opponents they have played this season. They face an Oxford defense that is very stout and very tough to run over, add the fact that penalties are drive killers. If West Point is faced with 3rd and 10, 20, or 30 due to costly penalties, Knight will be forced to pass in his run-based offense against a loaded and phenomenal Chargers secondary. Oxford should like their chances if they get West Point in must pass situations
Can West Point make McClure uncomfortable? McClure took an absolute beating in the last meeting between these two teams earlier in the year, getting sacked left and tackled for loss left and right. The constant pressure frustrated the Chargers’ offense that was eventually held to eight points in the game. Oxford’s offensive line will have to play so much better on the offense front against this talented Green Wave front seven than they did in the September meeting. If West Point can get to McClure frequently, that will take pressure off of the Green Wave offense.
Can Oxford take care of the football? This is probably one of the bigger reasons why Oxford was beat by 16 points earlier in the year. Oxford led the Green Wave 8-7 late in the third quarter. Things began to take a turn south when Oxford committed their first turnover of the game in that third quarter. McClure got sacked and lost the football that was recovered by the Green Wave. Murphy scored just a few plays later. The Chargers attempted to respond, but then Barry Flowers coughed up the ball running in a very unusual formation. West Point’s C.J. Melton recovered the ball and raced the ball 55 yards the other way for a scoop and score, putting the game just about out of reach. That killed practically any chance of Oxford getting back in the game. Turnovers cause momentum, and the Chargers cannot afford to loose that momentum at all in this game, not in a game of this importance. After all, it is win or go home in the playoffs.
Can Oxford prevent the “home run”? I (the writer) have watched Oxford play West Point for the past seven years and one thing always stuck out. Traditionally, when West Point scores on Oxford, it was through big plays getting them into the end zone. Almost every Green Wave touchdown scored in the past seven meetings have been 40+ yard scores . If Oxford can prevent giving up huge runs and big plays, then Oxford should be ok.
Hiram Wadlington has always had a knack for taking over a game, particularly in the post season, last week’s performance against Grenada was proof of that. This is a big game obviously, and when the heat is on, Wadlington fires back. If Wadlington gets stuffed the whole night, Oxford is in trouble. If Wadlington has a good game, Oxford has a shot.