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Oxford returns to Red Carpet Bowl to begin second year in 6A

Last year, Oxford made their first trip to Vicksburg and the Red Carpet Bowl. The Chargers came away with the season-opening win over the Gators and the trophy.

Oxford is making a return trip on Friday in hopes of duplicating their success when they play Warren Central (5:30 p.m., 95.5 FM). The Chargers are playing in the first game of the annual doubleheader where Vicksburg and Warren Central host teams to kick off the new season. The schools alternate hosting with Vicksburg High School doing the honor this year.

This year will be a little bit of a different test for Oxford. Warren Central is coming off a 9-4 year, finishing fourth in the Region 2-6A standings. The Vikings fell to Madison Central by two points off a last-second play in the quarterfinal round of last year’s Class 6A playoffs. They also picked up victories over 6A runner-up Starkville and Tupelo last season.

“Warren Central is a really good team,” Oxford head coach Chris Cutcliffe said. “They’re a very experienced team and have a good number of guys back. They played in and won a bunch of big games last season. We know that we’re in for a huge challenge this week from them.”

The Vikings are without Fred Barnum under center this year. In his senior year last year Barnum threw for 1,600 yards and 10 touchdowns. Who is returning on offense is senior running back Corey Wilson, Jr. Wilson led the run game with 941 yards and 17 touchdowns on 163 carries.

During jamboree action last week Warren Central defeated Terry 6-0. With only two quarters of film to look at in a game where most teams kept schemes basic, Cutcliffe and the Viking coaching staff traded their jamboree film, spring game film and their film from their last game of 2017.

Oxford defeated Charleston 7-0 in the Oxford Fall Jamboree last Friday. It took a score on the final drive in the final seconds of the game for the Chargers to come away with the win. After going over the film this past weekend Cutcliffe saw what needed to be fixed heading into the first week and what needs to continue.

“First, we played with a lot of effort, which you always want to see,” Cutcliffe said. “We had some things we wanted to work on. We had two turnovers, offensively, and that’s definitely something we worked at. We had a few too many penalties as well. …We started a little bit slow but we picked it up as we went. The big thing offensively was to finish strong at the end to get the score.”