Coverage Breakdown: Pontotoc @ Oxford
Players to Watch:
Immanuel Vance - The junior running back is among the state’s top leaders in rushing yards with four weeks gone by. He has 67 carries for 699 yards and seven TDs on the ground so far this year. He also has an impressive freshman back up in Jermarkus Whitefield who had a 100 yard performance against Aberdeen.
Austin Morphis - Pontotoc’s most dynamic playmaker. Morphis is elusive, quick, and just overall athletic. He has 23 catches for 349 yards and four touchdowns through the air. He also has 75 yards rushing.
Cole Smith - The Under Armour All-American is a force on the offensive and defensive lines for the Warriors. He is among the state’s top offensive tackles. On defense, he has 10 tackles and 13 quarterback hurries on the year.
Morgan Huey - The senior linebacker is the leader of this very impressive Warrior defense. He has a mind blowing 13 tackles a game average with his 51 tackles. He can also be a force on the defensive line as well.
Caleb Triplett - A ballhawk and a great cover corner. Triplett ties the team with two picks and has seven pass deflections. He also has 17 total tackles on the year.
Oxford quarterbacks - This two quarterback system has been pretty effective for the past three games. Last week, it was John Reece McClure who got the majority of the time behind center. McClure has 420 yards and five TDs while their other passer, John Meagher, has 227 yards and three scores. Both should make an impact in this game.
Hiram Wadlington - The senior team captain has been phenomenal for the Chargers this season. Wadlington has 72 carries for 517 yards and four TDs on the ground. At slot receiver, he has five catches for 68 yards and a score. He is very hard to tackle with his athleticism.
J.J Pegues - This sophomore phenom has been the go-to, reliable weapon through the air for the Chargers as of late because of his size. The tight end has nine catches for 150 yards and two scores so far on the year. The Chargers have used him everywhere on the offensive side of the ball.
Quentin Wilfawn - The 2017 Elite 10 member and team captain continues to get tackle after tackle. He ranks 12th in the state in total tackles with 60 and has two sacks, which leads the team. He had another great performance last week with 12 tackles against rival Lafayette.
Damarion Parham - Parham has really emerged as a star defender this season as a senior. Parham has frustrated quarterbacks this season with 16 pass breakups. He also has 25 tackles so far.
Keys to the Game:
Which team can stop the run? There is a reason why Pontotoc’s Immanuel Vance and Oxford’s Hiram Wadlington have looked impressive thus far on the field and on paper, because they are just simply hard to stop. They both have carried a large load this season offensively and have been vital to their offense’s succcess. It will be important for one team to contain the other team’s work horse. The team that will do that more often should win the game.
Can Pontotoc establish a run game early? As mentioned before, Vance is the real deal. There is a reason why he has nearly 700 yards by rushing this early in the season. The Chargers have shown the past two games that they are not invincible when a team runs the ball, particularly at the teeth of their front seven. Grenada figured that out in the second half of their game against Oxford two weeks ago. Grenada ran it and ran it up the middle late and the game could have been pretty interesting if Grenada was able to capitalize. If Pontotoc can run the ball early and not let up after having success, they have a good shot at the W.
Can Oxford open up the passing game? The Chargers have some pretty good weapons to throw to. The problem is, they haven't been able to get to them very often. Wadlington has been a huge factor for the Chargers on the ground. They go up against a very talented Warrior defense. The Chargers have to take advantage of mismatches on the perimeter. They have to have something on 3rd and long. If the Chargers are able to execute downfield throws and find their receivers in space, it is going to be a long night for the Warriors.
Momentum - Check out the box score for both teams through the first four weeks of the season. Oxford has been a pretty dominant first half team for the most part. Pontotoc has turned up the heat in most of their games after halftime. Both teams have demonstrated that once they have a spark of success, a fire will soon ignite afterwards. Whoever has success and can keep the train moving because of that success should be victorious.