By Brandon Speck
Call it the “Little Egg Bowl,” but there won’t be a trophy for the winner of tonight’s monstrous matchup in Oxford.
But when the state’s No. 2 Oxford Chargers and No. 3 Starkville Jackets meet at 7 on Oxford’s new artificial turf, it’s two teams that could lift trophies in December.
“All that ranking stuff, most of the time that doesn’t mean anything, to be honest with you,” Oxford coach Johnny Hill said. “We want to get better. We have three seasons, hopefully.”
It’s tough to find many who don’t expect both teams to have three seasons, as Hill says – non-division, division and playoffs.
Both are getting first-place votes behind South Panola. In the AP’s Class 6A rankings, Starkville is second. In 5A, Oxford is No. 1.
Oxford (1-0) didn’t lose last season until a late Picayune touchdown beat the Chargers in the state championship.
Starkville (1-0) went 9-4 and lost at South Panola in the second round.
“We knew we had a really good group coming back and obviously had kids develop over the off-season,” Starkville coach Jamie Mitchell said. “We were a young football team last year.”
Adding to the return of guys like leading rusher Jacquez Horsley was the transfer of New Hope quarterback Brady Davis.
The Jackets’ season-opening win against Noxubee got out of hand early, but in limited time, the Memphis commit threw for 183 yards and three touchdowns.
The Daily Journal Offensive Player of the Year in 2013, junior quarterback Jack Abraham, returned for Oxford. He threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns to three receivers in a win at Jackson Prep.
Both had top defensive returners making plays last week, defensive back Tyler Rogers and linebacker Alonzo Flowers for Starkville, linebacker Harland Stewart and sophomore linebacker Thomas Allen for Oxford.
“(Prep) played harder than we played,” Hill said. “We could have lost it just as easily. Mentally I think it helped to wake us up.”
No one is sleeping through tonight’s top ticket.