BY GENE PHELPS
The Oxford Chargers open their 2014 football season with games against academy power Jackson Prep and Class 6A contender Starkville.
To prepare for that one-two punch, the Chargers are scheduled to challenge the toughest bully on the block – South Panola – tonight in their annual two-day Oxford Jamboree at Ole Miss’ Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
The two-quarter scrimmage is scheduled for 8 p.m.
“What better way to get ready,” Oxford coach Johnny Hill said. “I think we’ll be fine. I think it will be good for our team.”
Each scrimmage in the two-day jamboree will be one regulation half. Joining Oxford-South Panola on opening night are Booneville-North Panola and New Albany-Kossuth.
Saltillo kicks off Saturday’s seven-scrimmage schedule playing North Pontotoc.
New Hope is hosting a jamboree on Saturday at Mississippi State’s Davis Wade Stadium. One of the featured matchups has West Point playing Louisville at 3 p.m.
The Chargers are no slouch on the football field. Oxford played in the Class 5A state championship game last season and return junior quarterback Jack Abraham, the 2013 Daily Journal Offensive Player of the Year. He passed for 3,572 yards and 38 touchdowns as a sophomore.
Oxford does enter the season with young offensive and defensive lines.
“It’s like teaching somebody how to swim,” Hill said. “They’ll either sink or swim. (The jamboree) gives everybody a chance to get through some of the rusty spots.
“It takes several games for a team to jell and find their identity.”
POUND FOR POUNDS
Saltillo returns senior running back Diamonte Pounds, who rushed for 2,039 yards and scored 20 touchdowns last season.
Tigers coach Pat Byrd says a jamboree, especially one in the college arena with artificial turf, is good for his team.
“I think it’s a good experience for the players to play in a college stadium,” he said. “It’s good to get to see your team against another opponent before you start playing for real.”
One problem could be the heat from the Rebels’ Field Turf. Saltillo and North Pontotoc play at 10 a.m.
“It’s going to be hot on that turf,” Byrd said. “We’ll be gassed after a half.”
BY GENE PHELPS