By Brandon Speck
Oxford can’t afford a wake-up call at this stage. While some teams have a loss to bring them back to earth, the Chargers are still walking around without a blemish.
“You’ve got one shot at this, no wake-up calls from here on out,” Oxford coach Johnny Hill said. “You lose, you go home. Your wake-up call will last you a year.”
The schedule lacks a single-digit win. There was a sloppy win against Center Hill, but one that ended up 56-27. Hill isn’t concerned about complacency – not even from his youthful team.
The Chargers (12-0) host Pearl (11-2) at 7 p.m. Friday in the MHSAA Class 5A playoffs. The winner advances to the North state championship game.
“They’re not your typical mentality team in high school,” Hill said of his team. “They’ve pretty much stayed focused. Starkville jumped out to a 14-point lead. We’re young and they had a chance to wilt and didn’t. They just kept on.”
His young bunch is led in passing, rushing and nearly receiving by sophomores. Quarterback Jack Abraham has completed more than 61 percent of his passes for 2,721 yards and 31 touchdowns. Kenzie Phillips has rushed for 1,377 yards and 19 scores. A junior, linebacker Mike McGee, is the leading tackler.
There are seniors as well. Joey Walden’s 535 receiving yards is a team-high, but sophomore DK Metcalf, an Ole Miss commit, has a team-high seven touchdowns.
Pearl is no slouch. The Pirates have a balanced offense led by quarterback Ledarius Carpenter. Carpenter has thrown for 2,347 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Hill’s Chargers are 2-2 against the Pirates, who have had their wake-up call. That came on Nov. 7 with a loss at Callaway. Callaway is unbeaten, too and hosting Clarksdale on Friday in the other North semifinal. But it was a 52-7 loss.
“I think it woke them up. They’re playing good. They’re dangerous,” Hill said. “They’re going to get all over us like a cheap suit.”