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Open date, chance to regroup comes at a good time for Oxford

Two weeks ago, Oxford was feeling good. A 21-17 win on the road at Madison Central had the Chargers trending in the right direction. This week is a different story.

After a 23-3 loss to crosstown rival Lafayette, the Chargers are spending their annual bye week searching for the answers to what went wrong.

This year, it comes at a time when Oxford (2-2) can clean up some of the mistakes that have been made the first four weeks of the year before heading down to West Point and opening Region 2-5A play next week.

“I do like having a bye week before we start district play,” Oxford coach Chris Cutcliffe said. “It’s a good opportunity to assess where you are after non-district games and focus on yourself for a week and fix some issues that you have.”

The biggest issue for Oxford is the play of its defense after the performance against the Commodores last week, especially the run defense. Lafayette ran for 297 yards and two touchdowns with Jamarcus Quarles gouging the defense for 269 of those yards and both scores. Quarterback Will Ard also hit the Oxford secondary up for 88 yards and a touchdown.

“I think it was consistency (that was lacking),” Cutcliffe said. “Defensively we played well for a lot of snaps, but we gave up two long touchdown runs to Quarles and a long pass to Tyler Williams. Those plays, which were lapses, it was good execution on (Lafayette’s) part, but from our standpoint, there were lapses in assignment or in tackling or fundamentals. You have to be consistent.”

It was not much prettier on offense as Oxford was held to just a field goal in the opening quarter and nothing else last week and 286 total yards. Before the Chargers begin defense of their region championship and face a West Point team that is ranked No. 5 in the state overall and No. 3 in Class 5A, they are spending the week getting themselves back on track.

“It’s discipline is what it boils down to,” Cutcliffe said. “Everything you do has to be disciplined. It doesn’t just happen. That’s kind of what we’ve talked about and what we’ve addressed and worked on throughout the week. We’ll continue to do that ahead of West Point.”