After that defeat, several Oxford assistant coaches have determined they should start up a new offseason program - a program where it was a requirement to come to work out X number of times just to get a jersey on and make the team and another few more times to get the name on the back of their home jersey.
In 2011, only about 20-25 players met the previous requirement to get their name on the back of their jerseys. While that requirement really hasn't changed, the new requirement to work out X number of times did.
2012 came around and about 50 or so managed to get their name on the back of their jersey. The result? A 11-2 record and a 2nd Round Appearance. The 9th Grade crew that was coming up went 6-0 in their games before a majority of them got bumped up to Varsity - they were blowing everyone out by 30-50 points every game including Lafayette. A 6-win improvement and defensively stepped up from a year ago.
The offseason began during the Powerlifting season usually in the winter. What happened? Oxford Boys won their first ever Powerlifting State Title - a team that mostly contained returning football players.
In the summer, a good portion of those players and those that weren't on the powerlifting team punched their ticket to the National 7-on-7 Tournament in Hoover, AL. Oxford fought through the loser's bracket and finally got beat when there was 4 teams left, making them 4th Place finishers. Oxford had to win a Regional Tournament to reach the National Tournament.
Now here we are in 2013. Oxford had a total of NINETY-FOUR (94) players complete their workout requirement to get their name on the back of the jersey and all 100+ completed their workout requirement to make the team. That number includes 9th Graders. Varsity had 70 of the 76 complete their requirement to get their name on their jersey.
What has that resulted in? Currently a 13-0 record - matching the best start in school history set by the 2005 squad. Oxford has scored 30 points in every game, something that has never been done before, and have won every game by double-digits - including over AAA MAIS Champion for this year in Jackson Prep, previous 5A Champion Starkville, beating Lafayette for the second year in a row, and finally defeating West Point after so many tries.
The difference between 5-6 and 13-0? Well, let's take a look at those "Iron Chargers" pictures.....
2013 started off at night - midnight to be exact - and lasted until 1:20 AM for the first practice, slept for 4 hours, woke up and had our team pictures.
Then the wait to play Jackson Prep, a game with a lot of hype. Ended out with Oxford on top and an offense worth noticing - not knowing not all of the offense was shown.
Then came the Kenzie Phillips coming out party, ripping off a 62-yard run to jump start the second half against Starkville. In a game Starkville thought they were going to win, they made up a trophy - that trophy is sitting in the OHS coaches office. For the record, it broke 2 minutes after we got our hands on it.
Then beating Lafayette at Lafayette was something to just sit back and watch the OHS defense just eat up the Lafayette offense for the second year in a row. Then the statement game against West Point - despite not having DK Metcalf who broke his foot, Oxford finally got over the hump and made a statement Oxford isn't joking around this year. After that game, Oxford proceeded to win every game after that by 3 possessions or more, not allowing any game to become a factor when the fourth quarter came around.
While Oxford's play has certainly taken notice by everyone, there are other things this season that has made me excited about this year.
For one, the OHS Band.
In past years, the band just wanted to do their own thing - thinking that the fans are there for the band which was never ever the case. On three occasions, the Band embarrassed the football team where the band would play something that you would not hear at any other game during a big situation. The other came in 2011, where in overtime Oxford scored a Touchdown and immediately the Band played the fight song during the extra point. There was one problem - the extra point had to be made to tie the game and send it to another overtime. When the extra point got blocked, the band got an ear-full after the game for prematurely playing the fight song.
It's worth noting that the OHS Band cannot perform infront of people if there is not a football game. Also the OHS Band runs the concession stands - no football game = no money made from concessions. If Oxford performs well, they make the playoffs. The amount of money OHS Band makes from concessions is based on the success of the football program. The better the team does -> the more people that come -> the more that come to the Concession Stand -> the more money they make.
This year, completely different.
Oxford did get new band director Mel Morse to help the cause. In return, Morse wanted to help make games more enjoyable for the fans and the team. How? When the opposing offense has the ball, the band just plays a real loud noise - making it harder to hear and possibly making them jump into a False Start penalty. They also get the fans going into defensive chants - something also not done in the past. They play "Zombie Nation" during kickoffs to help get the fans going. The band director even got a Game Ball from the OHS Football Team one night - something that even shocked the director.
Morse knows it is not automatic the Oxford makes the playoffs or gets another home game. The way they have supported Oxford this year is one of the main reasons the Band is getting 3 more home games worth of concession money - which will help them pay for instruments and their big band trip they take in the spring. For me that has seen how much money can be made just on a baseball tournament day on concessions, they are raking it in every game.
In the past, Band parents have complained about how much money the football team gets (which can't be further from the truth). Football's only sources of money come from Ad's you see in the stadium or for a game-basis, the "Discount Cards" the football team sells, and a set amount of money from the Booster Club - normally enough to get maybe jersey's and/or several new cleats. They don't get a dime from admissions or concessions - in fact the Football team does not make a single penny from any game they play in, anybody that says different is lying to you. The Ad's they sell in the PRESEASON is their only revenue they make.
It's finally heartwarming to see that the Band is a lot more involved in the football season with the football team than in any of the years past. They have been to nearly every game this season - only not coming to the Center Hill game (and there are games where they can't be there because of band competitions that Saturday) Even during pep rallies, the students wanted the Band to play. That's how much better it has been for the band - and it is simply because they support the football team more than ever before - it helps that the football team is winning all the time.
For two - the increase in the number for followers and likes on Facebook have increased like never before.
I have gained nearly 300 followers since the start of the season - the biggest boost out of the three years I've had a Twitter Account (that's including my outburst on the other account I did in early September). The likes have gone up by 200 - most came during the start of the season. Seeing how I am basically the only source to CONSISTENTLY give scoring updates in ALL sports, that's why the majority of the 1,100 people on Twitter follows me. Many others that have tried in the past just falter off and do not stay committed. I do this every year even before I had a Twitter account. I have been able to do Track, Football, Volleyball, Basketball, Soccer, Baseball consistently. I wish I could do every sport but I get the scores when I can.
This is why I continue to keep doing what I do. There is nothing like High School Sports.