Game Preview: Northwest Rankin Cougars (0-1) at Oxford Chargers (1-0)

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Game Preview: Northwest Rankin Cougars (0-1) at Oxford Chargers (1-0)

Junior Jack Tannehill kicks the ball off as senior Clay Cromwell runs to cover the kick against Charleston.  Cromwell scored the first touchdown of the 21-6 Charger win last Friday night.

Junior Jack Tannehill kicks the ball off as senior Clay Cromwell runs to cover the kick against Charleston. Cromwell scored the first touchdown of the 21-6 Charger win last Friday night.

Rosie Frugé

Junior Jack Tannehill kicks the ball off as senior Clay Cromwell runs to cover the kick against Charleston. Cromwell scored the first touchdown of the 21-6 Charger win last Friday night.

Rosie Frugé

Rosie Frugé

Junior Jack Tannehill kicks the ball off as senior Clay Cromwell runs to cover the kick against Charleston. Cromwell scored the first touchdown of the 21-6 Charger win last Friday night.

Edward Brown, Editor-in-Chief

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For the second game of the season, the Northwest Rankin Cougars will travel north to Oxford for an early season matchup. As one of the most dominant teams in 6A last year, the Cougars will prove to be much more of a challenge for Oxford compared to Charleston last week. Last season, the Cougars finished 11-2 with losses against Brandon and Madison Central in the playoffs. In addition, they achieved notable wins against Pearl, Starkville, Madison Central and Tupelo.

Players to watch:

Oxford LB Kiyon Williams: Williams, in his senior season, will be a key player for the Chargers at the linebacker position.  Facing an athletic and balanced Cougar offense, Williams will be a major factor in the Charger defense’s success Friday night.

Northwest Rankin RB PJ Lindsey: The leading rusher for the Cougar offense last year, Lindsey will likely receive majority of the handoffs for Rankin this season. Standing at 5’8 and 172 pounds, the senior running back for the Cougars is extremely quick, excellent at evading defenders and can show off his strength to run over opposing defenders. If the Rankin offensive line can control the line and allow Lindsey to get into space, the Cougars have a real chance of taking down Oxford.

Oxford ATH Clay Cromwell: In last week’s fall jamboree, Cromwell made a one-handed catch for a touchdown in the first quarter, while playing tight end. For the Chargers this week however, Cromwell’s athleticism and size will be more important on the defensive side of the ball. If Cromwell can disrupt the Rankin backfield and get to the quarterback and running backs often, the Cougars will have a hard time driving down the field.

Northwest Rankin QB Zach Beasley: Unlike most Mississippi football programs, the Cougars focus on the passing game just as much, if not more, than their rushing game. Beasley, now a junior, will be taking the over this passing offense since last year’s starter, Jamari Jones, graduated. As a sophomore last season with five appearances, Beasley threw 170 yards on 19 attempts, with two touchdowns. For the Cougars to be successful against an extremely deep and talented Charger defense, Beasley will have to play well.

X Factor:

Oxford Running Backs: If the Oxford backfield duo of KJ Wadley and Omar Howell can routinely gain yards and first downs, the Chargers will be able to control the tempo of the game.  If they can control the tempo, they will have a great chance to win Friday night.

Prediction:

The ever-present storyline for the Chargers this season will be how few players they lost to graduation and the number of starting seniors they have. On the other side, Rankin lost a good number of their starters from last year, including current Mississippi State safety Jarrian Jones.  The Chargers senior experience and strong defense will help them win this statement game early in the season. Oxford wins with a score of 30-21.