Chargers hit the road to face winless Saltillo

Published 12:01 pm Thursday, October 1, 2015

After getting off on the right foot in region play last week with a dominant 50-28 win over West Point, Oxford is taking its momentum on the road.

The Chargers, ranked No. 4 in the in the state’s latest rankings, will travel to Saltillo to take on the Tigers on Friday (7 p.m., 95.5 FM).

It is the first game outside the Oxford city limits since Aug. 28 when the Chargers (3-2, 1-0 Region 1-5A) traveled to Starkville for the second game of the season.

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The long gap between road trips is not something that Oxford coach Johnny Hill and company are considering an issue for their team.

“We don’t think much of that,” Hill said. “That’s not really that big an issue to us. We just load up and go. That part shouldn’t matter that much to us.”

What does matter to Hill is that his team go and play as well as it did last week against West Point this week at Saltillo, a team that is searching for its first win of the season.

The Tigers (0-6, 0-1) come into this week having dropped their region opener at Lake Cormorant, 34-10, last week. The closest margin of defeat for Saltillo was a 33-23 loss to Baldwyn two weeks ago.

‘Really good players’
Hill is not concerned with what the Tigers’ record is but what they do on the field. Saltillo has an offense that can execute if given the time.

Junior quarterback Clayton Knight runs the Saltillo offense. Knight has completed 69 of 128 pass attempts for 955 yards with six touchdowns and one interception. Sophomore receiver SirmarcusEvans is his favorite target with 33 catches for 607 yards and five touchdowns. Sophomore Dontell Young is in charge of the run game with 78 carries for 325 yards and two scores while Knight follows close behind with 61 carries for 231 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

“They’ve got several really good players,” Hill said of Saltillo. “I’m real impressed with (kicker Drake McCarter). He kicked it in the end zone, he kicked a 53-yard field goal. … They like to get the ball to (Evans). He’s their playmaker. If (Knight) has time, he can throw the ball pretty good. We’ve just got to try to harass him a little bit and get him off his rhythm, and I think we’ll be fine.”

For Oxford, Hill was pleased with how his offense performed against West Point, putting up 43 points in the first half. The defense is a “work in progress,” Hill said, and stalling opponents’ drives early in the possession has been a point of emphasis this week.

“I think our defense grew up a good bit,” Hill said. “They stayed out on the field too long. We let (West Point) convert on third and fourth downs too many times, but that’s still a work in progress and I think we’ll get better because of everything.”

The offense will be without starting running back Drew Bianco, who is being held out Friday to let his shoulder fully recover. Bianco missed most of the second half last week due to an injury he sustained against West Point.

Hill said Hiram Wadlington and Josh Patton will take over the workload at the running back position this week.