Unlike Oxford (4-2), who have consistently found themselves in the playoff mix most of past decade, Bainbridge-Guilford (5-1) has gone a few seasons without a playoff berth – since 1999 in fact.
“It’s obviously a huge game for us – and for Oxford,” said B-G head coach Tim Mattingly, who was in just his second season as offensive assistant coach to Steve Rice in the last playoff season. “It’s been a while since we’ve played for something like this, and the kids are pretty focused.”
While division games still remain on the ledger for both clubs, it’s a situation this week where the loser will simply play out the regular season and hope for a better result next year. Each club has one division loss and is tied with Delhi, who also has one division loss. Walton, winners over the Bulldogs last weekend, are a solo act on top of the standings, and have a date with B-G next weekend. Meanwhile, Oxford still has Delhi to play to finish its schedule.
“Oxford’s a really good football team, and we know they have some really good skill position kids,” Mattingly noted. “We have to contain (Scott) Shackelton in the running game, and (Steve) Locke has a good arm and throws it well. We have to put pressure on him, and offensively, we need to control the line of scrimmage.”
B-G offensive stars, running backs Willie McGinnis and Chad Cornish, along with quarterback Chris McGinnis, have soaked up most of the ink in coverage this season. An improving offensive line; however, is largely responsible for those players’ successes.
Ray Neubauer spearheads that interior line at center, Tyler Thompson and Tim Feyerabend play at guard, while Cody Ruff, Steve Buchanan, and Justin Dickey have occupied the tackle spots. Junior tight end Dylan Whittaker, the club’s leading pass receiver, has proven a capable blocker as well. “The key to our play the last few weeks has been the way our line has jelled,” Mattingly said. “We are much improved over the start of the season, and controlling the line of scrimmage will be a big key in this game. We have to keep our team’s offense on the field as much as possible, and that means we need to be successful running the ball.”