We’ve made it! One more day until Oxford and Lafayette take the field for the first time this season against another opponent. Both teams were unable to play in a Jamboree game last weekend. Oxford played Charleston last year in their 2019 Jamboree, but since Charleston cancelled fall sports earlier in August, Oxford was left scrimmaging against themselves last Friday. Lafayette was slated to host South Panola last Friday, but Mother Nature decided to make an appearance and made them cancel it.
Without further ado, here are the preview capsules for both teams this week. These will be a regular occurrence starting September 24th when division play begins as the following week is the Crosstown Classic where a full preview will happen instead and in the week after Oxford will be off, allowing for a full preview of Lafayette’s matchup at Mooreville.
Oxford at Grenada
This is Oxford’s first game ever as a defending state champion, so entering this game head coach Chris Cutcliffe knows the target will be on their back and the entire state will be watching this game in the battle between Charger teams. Last season, Oxford defeated Grenada at Bobby Holcomb Field 33-14, a game Oxford had complete control throughout the contest after jumping to a 26-0 lead in the first three quarters.
Oxford enters this game with very few returning playmakers as two of Oxford’s biggest weapons John Meagher and J.J. Pegues are gone to graduation. Junior Michael Harvey and sophomore Trip Maxwell have been battling it out for the starting quarterback position. One quarterback will either win the job or split time between the two. Without any other game to look back to, it will be a mystery until we see the team jog out to take the first snap who will be the starter. The last Oxford sophomore to earn a first game start at quarterback was Jack Abraham in 2013.
Grenada returns quarterback Joshua Phillips where last season he made more plays with his legs than his arms. Throwing-wise he had one of his worst games last season going just 6-for-19 for 64 yards and an interception, but on the ground he had his best game last season rushing for 131 yards on 11 carries and scored both of his team’s touchdowns. Outside of Phillips, one player carried the load on the ground last season and that was Demarquese Gipson, but with his graduation, the next returning leading rusher to fill his shoes will likely be Cameron McBridge who rushed for 135 yards last season as the back-up running back, but it really is a mystery who will be taking the majority of the ground-game touches in the backfield outside of Phillips.
Oxford’s defense lost nearly every starter from last year’s team, so there will be a lot of new faces out there to prove that the Oxford defense is still the one that only gave up 11 points per game last season. Grenada does return six players that had at least 25 tackles from last season. Grenada went 7-5 last season and was bounced in the first round of the playoffs by Neshoba Central 26-24. Three of their five losses last season was by seven points or fewer, including a three-point loss to Lafayette and only a seven-point loss to four-time defending 5A champion West Point.
There are a lot of new faces that will be out on the football field than the last time these two teams met and a lot of those mystery questions will be answered once Friday night is over with.
Lafayette at Horn Lake
The first of Lafayette’s eight road games of the season begins Friday night at the team that won the 6A championship the year before in 2018, however the Horn Lake Eagles had trouble defending their title going only 5-7 last season and getting bounced by Starkville 35-2 in the first round. Among the seven losses the Eagles took included a 28-14 loss to Lafayette at William L. Buford stadium in their last meeting.
Horn Lake had trouble scoring last season mustering just 16 points per game on offense. In four of their wins, their defense only allowed just one score or pitched a shutout. If the Eagles expect to contend not only in this game but in Class 6A again, that number has to improve. Defensively, Horn Lake was solid there giving up 17.5 points per game.
Lafayette will start Junior Tyrus Williams at quarterback after an injury sidelined him from the sharing duties with Randy Anderson in the middle of last season. Despite playing several hundred snaps at quarterback last season, he did not throw a touchdown pass on 31-for-53 passing, but with only just one interception. Last season he played a big role on the ground rushing for 122 yards and a touchdown in their win last season and is looking for at least a repeat performance.
Jagger Stovall and Trikyus Woodall are the leading returning running backs for Lafayette with the pair combined to rush for 494 yards and three touchdowns in supplemental roles last season. Lafayette does return weapons at wide receiver with Kylen Vaughn and Brendan Toles. Vaughn led all Commodore receivers last season with 14 receptions for 195 yards and three touchdowns. Toles was right behind him with eight receptions for 141 yards and two touchdowns as the pair expect to be more involved in the offense this season.
On defense Lafayette returns Mario Wilbourn who led the Commodores in tackles last season with 116. Four other players also return for Lafayette who had at least 30 tackles last season.