By Jared Redding
Just one week into the 2021 Mississippi high school football season, the Oxford High School Chargers are having to adjust to a new non-region schedule over the next two weeks.
Oxford’s originally scheduled Friday opponent, South Panola High School, is currently not allowed to compete due to the school district going 100 percent virtual amid recent surges of COVID-19. Per Mississippi High School Activities Association ruling, no member school is permitted to compete in any extracurricular activity if fully virtual and must forfeit games scheduled during that time. The following week, the Chargers were originally slated to face John Curtis Christian School in the Battle On The Border showcase in Shreveport, La. However, damages caused by Hurricane Ida in the Gulf South region have forced the school to shut down until further notice.
According to OHS head football coach Chris Cutcliffe, he and his team are more focused on what they alone can control.
“Our plans have really been to address things with our own team, things we saw in the jamboree and last week against Brandon. There may be an opportunity later in the week to get a head start on an upcoming opponent, but we’re mainly focused on us, especially this early in the season,” Cutcliffe said.
Early attempts for OHS to schedule a replacement game were unsuccessful, allowing them to have this weekend off. However, a day after JCCS officially withdrew from competition, the organizers of the showcase replaced them with Ruston High School out of Ruston, La. The matchup remains scheduled for 3 p.m. on Sept. 11, as it was originally planned for OHS.
In the meantime, the Chargers plan to polish up their game and correct flaws from fall camp to last week’s win over Brandon High School.
“I thought we played very hard,” Cutcliffe said. “I was pleased with seeing that. I thought our conditioning level was evident. We played well in the second half. We had some unforced errors that I felt killed drives offensively, especially in the red zone. That’s something we definitely have to get better at.”
On Aug. 27 the Chargers erased a 14-0 deficit and scored 24 unanswered points en route to a 24-17 victory over Brandon. Despite early struggles, they managed to muster 280 yards of total offense with three touchdown passes coming from senior Michael Harvey and junior Trip Maxwell.
“We made a lot of big plays down the field. There were too many drops. That was a big concern out of week one. We’ll address that on the practice field. Brandon is an excellent defensive team. Their coaching staff does a tremendous job, doing a lot of things that present problems. We did a lot good up front, but there are things to correct,” Cutcliffe said.
The Chargers are ranked No. 2 in the Mississippi AP poll, behind last year’s MHSAA Class 6A state champion Oak Grove High School.