By Brandon Speck
JACKSON – Oxford was the first team in Mississippi to start the season and the Chargers will be the team that ends it.
Oxford (14-0) and Picayune (11-2) will decide the MHSAA Class 5A state championship tonight at Veterans Memorial Stadium.
“It felt like yesterday we just started with that midnight practice and summer workouts, said senior Conrey Meagher, Oxford’s second-leading tackler. “I wouldn’t have thought we’d be undefeated sitting here right now.”
To stay unbeaten will mean beating a Maroon Tide team that running back Preston Dedeaux calls ground-and-pound.
“That sums it up right there,” Picayune left tackle D’Marcus Haralson said. “That’s what we have to do. Just go. That’s all we’ve ever been taught, run, run, run, occasionally pass.”
While its opponent throws for less than 90 yards per outing, Oxford likes it both ways. Sophomore quarterback Jack Abraham has thrown for 3,310 yards and 36 touchdowns. But sophomore Kenzie Phillips has rushed for another 1,580 yards and 21 scores.
Dedeaux has rushed for 1,851 yards on 251 carries. As a team, Picayune runs for nearly 250 yards per game.
‘Red Rover …’
“We’re fixing to find out how tough it is to stop,” Oxford coach Johnny Hill said. “That’s what they do and they don’t care if you know it. It’s red rover, red rover, we’re fixing to come over.”
Oxford held a midnight practice to open the season. One more win and superstitious coaches across the state will be scheduling a midnight opening next August.
Oxford’s closest game came in a 10-point win against West Point in late September, also its lowest point output until a 23-7 win against Callaway last week.
Picayune isn’t unbeaten, but has won seven in a row, 31-plus points in each game. Both go streaking into the season finale.
“That’s kind of been our motto all year, one more,” Oxford senior tight end Ethan Holmes said. “Now we really have one more.”