Note* - For the sake of priority ranking, MPB - which was polled by the media - will be used for ranking purposes. Maxpreps uses computer rankings.
What?: Season Opening Game
Where?: Bobby Holcomb Field @ OHS
When?: Friday, August 23rd @ 7:00 PM
How can you keep yourself updated?: 95.5 FM Radio, Bullseye955.com, @OxChargerSports Twitter Account, Channel 97 (Metrocast) Monday @ 6 PM, Gamecast on Maxpreps at this LINK.
The lowdown: This is not your typical opening game of the year.
Oxford is playing against a MAIS academy school for the first time this century in football. I haven't lived long enough to even remember if the Chargers have played against an academy school in Football in school history. The Chargers will face the Patriots in a game featuring two teams that were shown on National TV last year (Jackson Prep played Pearl and won 9-0, Oxford defeated Lafayette last year 19-0).
This is not your normal Academy school. As many know, Jackson Prep is one of if not the most populated (and likely most expensive) Academy school in the state of Mississippi. With their presence known all across the state (as their appearance last year on TV wasn't enough), they will challenge anybody in this state and typically fair very well. They are usually the toughest team in the highest classification when it comes to football (the "South Panola" of MAIS if you will). Oxford played Jackson Prep in Basketball a couple years ago in the Crossover Tournament between several MHSAA and MAIS schools.
These two teams return defenses that have a lot of talent. Prep is coming off a season where their defense pitched 5 shutouts last year and only gave up 95 points. Oxford pitched 3 shutouts last season, the most since the 2004 season and averaged giving up 15 points per game on a team that will have several players with D1 talent, two of which have already committed to SEC schools and nearly returns everyone that was on that defense last year.
Whatever the case may be, the Charger football players have waited all football season for this game and is anxious to get out to the field to finally show off all of their offseason hard work put to use. They'll need to against the defending MAIS AAA Champion.
For Oxford to win, they must: Get Up to Speed - OHS QB Jack Abraham has been unbelievable this offseason leading the Chargers to a 4th place finish in the National 7-on-7 Championship Tournament in Hoover, AL against many elite teams that are in this season's preseason Top 100 Nationally Ranked teams. He has already made headlines being one of the top 2016 prospects to watch for in the nation being looked at by Ole Miss, MSU, Duke, and South Carolina. However, he has yet to play meaningful Varsity snaps to this point, playing in garbage time last season behind Parker Adamson after being bumped up from his 9th Grade team who has been dismantling every 9th Grade team they have faced last year. The only other experience was this past Friday against Corinth in the Jamboree. Abraham and the rest of this young offense needs to gradually get to Varsity speed in this game and get used to the tempo of High School football. If his 9th Grade team last year has any indication at all, the rest of this schedule should need to be on the lookout for this shocking group (no pun intended).
Play Fundamental Defense - Abraham wasn't the only one making headlines, two defensive players committed to SEC schools this summer in DK Metcalf - another Sophomore - and Senior Darrius Liggins, last year's leading tackler, to Ole Miss and Mississippi State respectively. Also Conrey Meagher, Mike McGhee, KT McCollins are also very skilled on defense in their positions - all of which should find D1 colleges to play for once they leave high school. For this game, they shouldn't try to do anything crazy but just do your job. Prep is a team that has not lost since the 2011 season to their arch-rival Jackson Academy having won 13 in a row.
For Jackson Prep to win, they must: Also Get Up to Speed - They are also bringing in a new QB after Ryan Buchanan graduated and is on the Ole Miss campus on scholarship for football (and likely will come over to watch this game). This offense must also find its groove if they want to win this game against this Charger defense. Junior Gene Wood is the new QB who is going to lead the Patriots in their quest to repeat as AAA Champions in the MAIS. Oxford's defense is a good test to see where they stand on offense. However Wood is not without experienced people surrounding him (especially his offensive line where they have a player that made the Athlon Sports 2nd Team OL for Mississippi). More than 30 Seniors are on this squad. The only person that really has to get up to speed is the Quarterback Wood. If he does, this offense can be dangerous.
Tire Oxford Out - The Patriots have 91 players on its football team. That alone should say enough that they have depth at every position, a luxury many schools - especially private schools - do not have. If someone were to get hurt, they can throw somebody else out there without fear of loss of production in most every spot. With that in mind, that should be part of their game plan - although that may actually be harder than it appears when Oxford also has the depth to keep up with Prep.
Weather: At kickoff - 83*F, Partly Cloudy to Clear (less than 10% chance for rain), winds from the NE @ 4-8 MPH (Wind will be moving towards the school building). Temperatures are expected to drop to the mid-70s by the end of the game.
Other Notes: Oxford is coming off an 11-2 2nd Round playoff loss season last year considered to be a majorly successful season by many after rebounding from a 5-6 season the previous year before and not making the playoffs. Jackson Prep is 4-3 against MHSAA schools in the last 3 years. Oxford will start a Sophomore QB for the first time since 2008 (Guy Cameron Billups) - but the first time to begin a Sophomore Campaign at QB since beyond 2003 (not aware of who was QB @ OHS before 2003).