Road-weary Oxford returns home against Grenada

Published 6:02 am Thursday, August 31, 2017

578 miles.

That was the ground covered by Oxford in the first two weeks of the season. Trips to Vicksburg and Starkville made the Chargers the ‘Road Warriors’, but that ends this week.

“We’ve had two long road trips in a row. So, it will be nice to play at home,” Oxford head coach Chris Cutcliffe said after last Friday’s game in Starkville.

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Week 3 brings Oxford (1-1) back to Bobby Holcomb Field where they host Grenada in their home opener of the year. It is the first of four games inside Lafayette county for the Chargers. They host four of their next five games with a trip to Lafayette for the Crosstown Classic next week mixed in.

“We’ve had two long road trips in a row. So, it’ll be nice to play at home,” Cutcliffe said.

Oxford’s only other away game in September is a short trip to Batesville to take on South Panola (Sept. 29). They will not leave the Highway 6 corridor until Oct. 13 when they travel to Horn Lake.

It is a good stretch for the Chargers, after splitting their first two games of the season with a win against Vicksburg in the Red Carpet Bowl to kick off the year then losing a heartbreaker to Starkville in double overtime last week.

Each game showed progress for Cutcliffe and his staff to work on during this key homestand.

“We made mistakes on both sides of the ball and things that we need to correct and need to improve on,” Cutcliffe said. “But, what I saw was the effort we played with. I thought we matched (Starkville’s) physicality and played really hard. A lot of to be pleased with as well.”

Meagher’s time?

After a sluggish first half performance that resulted in zero points, followed by a second half that produced 21 points created a mini quarterback controversy potentially for Oxford. Sophomore John Mark Meagher replaced senior starter John Reece McClure midway through the Little Egg Bowl and seemingly jumpstarted a Charger offense. Meagher used his feet and arm to help tie the game with Starkville, forcing overtime.

With McClure throwing two touchdowns against Vicksburg and Meagher throwing two against Starkville, there may be a battle brewing. Or maybe not.

“I think both guys have a big role to play,” Cutcliffe said. “I think you’ll see both guys make a positive impact on our team throughout the year. …I think that our scheme on offense is pretty flexible. It can adapt to the players that we have.”

It is another playoff rematch from a season ago when the Chargers of Grenada take on the Chargers of Oxford. Last fall, Oxford dispatched of Grenada with a 34-16 win in the first round of the Class 5A playoffs.

Grenada stayed in 5A, moving into Region 1-5A with Lafayette after this summer’s re-classification while Oxford jumped up to 6A. Standout athlete CJ Avery is now longer on Grenada’s roster, graduating and signing with Louisville last February. Replacing Avery is senior Jared Barnes, who saw playing time last year as a junior. In two games, Barnes has thrown for only 63 yards, zero touchdowns and three interceptions.

The offense as a whole has sputtered for Grenada (0-2) as they’ve only scored 19 total points in their two losses to Christian Brothers out of Memphis and the upstart Cleveland Central.

“(Grenada) lost a lot of seniors from last year’s defense but they have a lot of young players playing well and forcing turnovers,” Cutcliffe said. “They have a new offensive coordinator and new scheme, offensively. They’re 0-2 but I think will prove to be a good team as the season’s progresses.”