My earliest memory of a high school football game involved nearly getting run over by a bunch of Oxford Chargers.
I was around 4 years old, so this would have been 1980ish. My family had gone to the annual rivalry game between Lafayette and Oxford, and all I remember is we were sitting on a grassy incline when the players left the field at halftime.
And I had to scramble out of the way, because those guys looked big and scary and were stampeding straight for little old me.
I view the Lafayette- Oxford rivalry from a different perspective now. The Crosstown Classic has always been one of my favorite local rivalries, even though I don’t have an attachment to either school.
I went to high school in Louisiana, but several cousins of mine attended Lafayette and are die-hard Commodores. Had I remained in Oxford, I would have been a Charger.
My parents have no emotional stake in this rivalry, either. Dad went to University High, while Mom attended Yocona High (yes, they’re that old). However, my old man did film games for Oxford for a few years, from about 1975-80.
Perhaps that’s why I was at that Lafayette- Oxford game.
Well, I’ll be there again tonight, covering it for the third-straight year. Both teams are off to strong starts, and I suspect we’ll see a game similar to last year’s, when Oxford won on a last-second field goal, 29-27.
The series began in 1972, and Lafayette leads it, 25-21-2. But Oxford has won six of the last seven meetings.
There are myriad angles about this matchup that add a little more flavor to the rivalry. Like the coaches: Lafayette’s Michael Fair played football at Mississippi State, while Oxford’s Chris Cutcliffe is the son of former Ole Miss coach David Cutcliffe.
Four players on the Oxford roster have the last name Pegues, which is a very common surname in the area. I’ve been told these fellas are all cousins, and the most impressive of the group is J.J. Pegues, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound SEC prospect.
You’ve read about J.J., I’m sure. He’s built like a nose tackle, but he plays tight end, receiver, running back, quarterback and defensive end. He moves like someone 100 pounds lighter.
Can you imagine someone like him doing what he does 40 years ago? Had 4-year-old me seen him coming at me, I’d probably still be having nightmares.