The 2019 Mississippi High School football playoffs are fast approaching and Oxford High School will be favored, standing at 8-1 in the Class 6A division.
Oxford has made impressive plays on both sides of the ball this season, but the defense has been historically good.
Led by Mississippi/Alabama Classic game invitee Kiyon Williams, Oxford leads Class 6A in points allowed per game with 11.1.
Jared Redding, assistant editor for divisions and features for SES Mississippi, said the Charger defense has been a terror on the opposing offense.
“That defense is absolutely nasty,” Redding said. “They may bend at times, but they don’t break very often as evidenced by the points (against).”
The Chargers have thunderstruck their opponents on the offensive side of the ball, too. Led by Elite 10 member J.J. Pegues and quarterback John Meagher, the team emphasizes a very balanced offensive attack capable of reaching paydirt each drive.
The Chargers have been on a roll since a week two loss in the Little Egg Bowl to Starkville High School.
The Chargers were outscored 24-0 in the first half before they came storming back in the second half, getting the score as close as 24-17. A late turnover sealed the Chargers’ fate when they were handed their only loss of the season, 45-17.
Since the loss, however, the Chargers have gone 7-0 outscoring their opponents by an average of 25 points per game.
With the regular season coming to a close, the Chargers have playoffs in their sights.
“I think Oxford definitely has what it takes to make a deep playoff run in just their second year of being in Class 6A,” Redding said. “They have depth and are well-coached.”
Despite being one of the favorites, Oxford will have to go through the likes of Starkville High School, Madison Central and South Panola, each considered a powerhouse in the state of Mississippi’s 6A division.
“Oxford hasn’t beaten Starkville since 2013 when the Little Egg Bowl first began,” Redding said. “I think Starkville will be Oxford’s biggest task come playoff time.”
With a lot of football to be played and a lot on the line, kicker and recent Ole Miss commit Jack Tannehill believes his team just needs to stay the course and play their game.
“I think that as playoff season is coming we need to focus on playing our game,” Tannehill said. “I think that we are good enough to play the way we want to play and be able to beat anybody.”
Oxford will need to continue doing what they’ve done all season—with efficient coaching and disciplined football—in order to make a deep run in the playoffs.
“They are well-coached. It was the right hire to promote former assistant coach Chris Cutcliffe to head coach following the 2015 season,” Redding said. “The players have bought into Chris’ system and they are smart and very disciplined.”
Only time will tell if Oxford can run the table and bring the Class 6A state championship trophy home, and according to Coach Cutcliffe, the team needs to continue to get better in order to do so.
“This time of year, you always have to fight the urge to put things on cruise control and become complacent,” head coach Chris Cutcliffe said. “We have to continue to stay hungry and work on the practice field to stay on the path we want to be on.”
The Chargers need wins in their final two games to secure the No. 1 seed in their division, which would give them home-field advantage in the playoffs. The team will wrap things up with a home game against Hernando before traveling to play Tupelo to finish off the season.