• John Macon Gillespie

Oxford Defense Takes Chargers To Next Level

The Oxford Chargers have a defense that is out to prove this season that offense may win games, but defense ultimately wins championships.

Many knew before the season that the Chargers were going to have a good defense. Oxford is ready to make it happen and take their abilities to the next level this season as they get closer to region play.

“These kids have worked hard, they've bought in to what we are trying to do,” second year defensive coach Matt McCrory said about his defensive players. “I trust those guys on that side of the ball, I know they have the best interest of the football team and mine and ultimately I trust them to do their job.”

“We knew we had to step up, we knew that we had to show up and show out.,” senior defensive back Devin Rockette said.

Last season’s defensive backs coach, McCrory, was tabbed with replacing Steve Herring as defensive coordinator.

“He’s a great coach, he has a whole lot of energy,” said defensive back C.J Terrell.

Oxford returns seven players on the defensive side of the ball, Including a bulk of players in the secondary.

Ole Miss commit Devin Rockette returns after getting 53 tackles and an interception a year ago, Rockette brings a lot of speed to the table, running a 4.39 second 40 yard dash time. Rockette currently has 12 tackles on the season. C.J Terrell returns and currently leads the team with two picks, both of which were against Southaven. Terrell ranks second on the team with 28 tackles. Damarion “DaDa” Parham is getting significant playing time at defensive back as well as Gregory Milliner Jaquanzi Johnson returns after getting 52 tackles a year ago. D.Q Thomas is being called both to play deep and at the line of scrimmage as a hybrid linebacker/safety. Thomas ranks fourth on the team with 26 tackles and currently holds an offer from Mississippi State. Thomas is also considered to be one of the strongest leaders of Oxford’s defense.

At linebacker, Quentin Wilfawn returns to the field after missing the second half of last season. Wilfawn’s 52 tackles currently ranks seventh in the country. Jamar James was out for the season last season and could made a big impact on this defense. D.T Thompson had a break out junior campaign last season and currently has 27 tackles on the year, ranking third on the team. Cameron Bailey had a breakout game last week against Madison Central getting nine tackles and is hoping for a solid sophomore season. Jay Frierson also had a big game last week getting seven tackles and a sack.

Nick Sisk returns to anchor the defensive line. Sisk has 18 tackles with 3.5 TFLs and a sack so far on the year. Jerry Quiller had a sack that helped cement the win last week against Madison Central. Kent Hickinbottm has a TFL on the year and could get a lot more this season. Xavian Herod is getting some good minutes this season.

In the season opener, the Chargers surrendered 182 yards to Southaven and up only giving up one touchdown. Oxford’s defense kept them in the game while their offense was trying to find their footing. Oxford found their footing later in the game and rallied back from 13 points down to take the lead 26-20 late in the game. Junior defensive back C.J Terrell denied Southaven’s game winning drive with his second interception to win 26-20.

“That as one of those games where we faced a little bit of adversity and just were able to pull together and fight through it,” McCrory said.

In the fourth annual Little Egg Bowl game against the defending 6A state champion Starkville, the Chargers held firm on a 4th and 1 on the one yard line that allowed the Chargers to get back in the game. Oxford could not complete the rally and fell 28-16 to Starkville. A big issue in that game for the Charger defense was on third down plays

“I believe Starkville had gained six or more yards on every single third down. Thats not a recipe for success on defense,” said McCrory.

The next week, the Chargers traveled to the Jungle to take on the Madison Central Jaguars and one of the state’s top quarterbacks, Jack Walker. Oxford gave up 231 yards of total offense and shut down the Jaguars defensively and later earning a huge win on the road 21-17. The Chargers were able to show their depth in the second half, missing five starters.

“We tackled well and, for their (MC) scheme, we played good disciplined assignment football,” McCrory said. “In the second half, we continued to build on those changes we made in the first half to defend that triple option. I want to say that they had seven yards rushing after halftime.”

“We couldn't have two losses in a row,” Terrell said. “We stepped up as a defense and had one of our better practices last week.”

This Oxford Charger defense looks to continue rolling against cross town rival Lafayette on Friday at 7:00 p.m.

**Photo By Oxford High Sports Productions.

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