Chargers get main things accomplished in Hoover
HOOVER, Ala. – Outside of a title, Oxford High football coach Johnny Hill felt like his Chargers accomplished everything they set out to at the National Select 7-on-7 Championships.
After an up and down first day in pool play, Oxford settled in at the tournament and played in the competitive manner they’re going to need to demonstrate during the 2014 season.
Oxford went 6-6 in the tournament, losing in the final game to Hoover (Ala.), a program that has posted back-to-back 15-0 seasons.
“It was like two different teams from (Friday) to (Saturday),” Hill said. “I don’t think we played hard (Friday) and didn’t compete. We had our lip poked out all day long and that’s just not what we’re about. We fought hard and played well (Saturday).”
The Chargers lost to Brandon (Miss.) to fall into the loser’s bracket in the second game of the tournament Saturday. The Bulldogs, led by quarterback Gardner Minshew, were the top seed coming out of pool play, and their receivers made two big touchdown catches over Oxford defenders. Hill gave them credit for the tough plays made.
“Our defensive guys, they couldn’t have covered any better than that,” Hill said. “We battled back and played some good teams and competed. I won’t say anything about officiating, but there were a couple of calls in that last one I didn’t quite understand.
“That’s part of it and you’ve got to overcome that. All in all, I was pleased with (Saturday’s) performance. I think we learned something. I think we grew up down here and I hope we can transition that over to the season in a couple of weeks.”
Oxford played in the national tournament, which featured 32 teams from 14 states, prior to the 2013 season and used the experience to start 14-0 and advance to the Class 5A state title game.
“It’s more the mental process than the physical process,” Hill said of what he likes the most about the tournament format. “We could play 10 games at home. It’s the mental part, and I think that part, out of all of it, was the big plus on this trip. Our guys showed what it takes to win during the season.”
Hill’s skill players exhausted the amount of tournaments and days they could use to help get ready for the season.
“I think this was our seventh time to be out here, and that’s the most we can have,” Hill said. “Our kids played hard and I’m pleased with that.”
D.K. Metcalf, who is committed to play at Ole Miss for the class of 2016, was rated by Rivals.com as the top offensive performer during the tournament. But Metcalf wasn’t the only Charger who showed playmaking skills.
Kyree White, another junior, complemented Metcalf on the other side of the formation, while Hill felt like some others also stepped up. Tight end Zack Cousar missed the trip, and Hill said that hurt the team.
“When you get a 6-5 receiver inside that can go up and over folks, and has great hands, that hurt not to have him,” Hill said. “We had a couple of others banged up there, but that’s part of it. We had a lot of young guys in there and they competed. I was real pleased with that.”
Hill added that the trip wouldn’t have been possible if not for the support of Dr. Ed Field of University Sports Medicine, who donated money to help the Chargers make the trip. It was the second straight year Field has helped in that regard.