By Brandon Speck/NEMS Daily Journal
Jimmy Carter was president the last time Oxford and Starkville faced each other on the football field.
However, the head coaches know each other well. The teams will get familiar after they meet Friday in Starkville in the MHSAA Class 5A quarterfinals.
Starkville coach Jamie Mitchell was Oxford coach Johnny Hill’s offensive line coach when Hill was the head coach at Tupelo.
“This is a neat game, kind of a mini Egg Bowl. I think it’s amazing that these teams have not met,” Mitchell said.
Starkville (9-3) won its playoff opener against Saltillo behind the legs and arm of Mississippi State quarterback commitment Gabe Myles. Myles threw a pair of touchdown passes to Stanley Higgins, one a 75-yarder, and ran in one of three touchdowns in the first quarter.
Oxford sophomore Courtland Barnes scored a pair of touchdowns against Provine last week. He rushed for 92 yards on 15 carries.
“The quarterback, he’s a tough one to hem up. The tailback is a good runner. The tight end, (Higgins) … and defensively they get after you and they’re good on special teams,” Hill said. “So there’s really not a glaring weakness. We’re going to have to play well.”
The Chargers (11-1) present a balanced attack with 6-foot-3 quarterback Parker Adamson and running back Jarius Barnes. Adamson has thrown for 2,188 yards, 17 touchdowns and 12 picks.
“He’s one of the top two quarterbacks in the state, if not the best,” Mitchell said. “He makes all the throws.”
Barnes has rushed 122 times for 741 yards and four touchdowns. Nick Brown has 41 catches for 723 yards and 10 scores.
Lineman Xavier Pegues is one of three Chargers with double-figure tackles. Pegues has 110, sophomore linebacker Mike McGhee 106 and linebacker Jarquis Adams 100.
Starkville finished 5A runners-up last season, losing to Picayune. Oxford didn’t make the playoffs after a two-round run two seasons ago.
“I think (experience) is good but it still comes down to blocking, execution and tackling,” Hill said. “We’ve got to do what we do well and keep them from doing what they do well.”