When Tupelo and Oxford face off tonight at Golden Wave Field, it’s quite simple for the Oxford football team: win and the Chargers are the Division 1-6A champions.
Tupelo can also win the championship, but it’s a little more complicated.
For the Wave to win the division, they must beat Oxford by 11 points or more. If Tupelo wins by exactly 10, it will be the No. 2 seed, and if Tupelo wins by less than 10 points or loses the game, it will be the No. 3 seed in the playoffs starting next week.
“I think you just want to approach the game like you just want another win,” Tupelo coach Trent Hammond said. “I don’t think you can come in and say that you have to get this many points or you aren’t successful. Whether we win by one point or whatever, if we can finish the regular season with eight wins, it’s a good year.”
What stands in Tupelo’s way is Oxford’s defense, which is the best in Class 6A. The Chargers (9-1, 6-0) are allowing only 10.6 points per game and have allowed only 33 points in six division games.
Oxford has recorded 23, 65 tackles-for-loss, and intercepted 14 passes. On the defensive line, Jeremiah Pomerlee leads the team with 8.5 sacks, while Byron Pearson leads the secondary with six interceptions.
“They fly to the football, and they’re very aggressive,” Hammond said. “They’re good tacklers, and they don’t get out of position. But this is what our schedule set us up for. We played West Point and South Panola, and this is another one of those same top-10 caliber teams.”
Tupelo (7-3, 5-1) will try to counter Oxford’s defense with its plethora of dynamic skill players. Junior quarterback Jake Weir has passed for 1,779 yards and 18 touchdowns this year, with most going to his two talented receivers.
Ole Miss commit Jaycob Horn leads the team with 48 catches for 743 yards and seven touchdowns, while Trip Wilson has 35 catches for 653 yards and eight touchdowns.
In the backfield with Weir, running back David Hayes leads the Wave with 1,220 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns.
“I think Tupelo does as good of a job as anybody in the state at maintaining balance on offense and can hurt you in many different ways,” Oxford coach Chris Cutcliffe said. “They do a great job of making themselves hard to defend, and they have some great weapons on the outside.”