• John Macon Gillespie

GoW: Through The Air

This matchup a season ago featured one of the state’s most experienced signal callers in Jack Abraham and Marcus Murphy, a guy who is back this season but at a new spot. Oxford is now the team with a sophomore starting quarterback, JR McClure, while West Point runs out a senior in Clayton Knight.

Without question these two teams look for different impact from the passing game. However, both have found big plays through their air. The Chargers average 229.5 passing yards per game and the Green Wave are at 119.3. Oxford has completed passes for 76 yards, 66 yards and 56 yards. West Point has completions of 46 yards, 32 yards and a few for 27 yards.

Clayton Knight hasn’t spent all of the snaps on the field at quarterback. Marcus Murphy still does that a lot. But with Knight, Murphy, DeMarrio Edwards, Jason Brownlee and Chris Calvert, when healthy, the Green Wave would own one of the best units, offensive or defensive, in the entire state.

So far this season Knight has turned just 44 pass attempts into 429 yards and four touchdowns. He is averaging over 107 yards per game, which is only making the running game better. Look for the senior to only get better as the season goes on. He can make plays with his feet, distribute it with accuracy and efficiency and when he isn’t doing that he’s handing it to a stud. What could go wrong?

The offseason saw Oxford have a bit of a quarterback battle with the departure of Abraham. However, McClure became the man once Zac Montgomery transferred away from Oxford. Not only is McClure growing up at the position, but he’s also growing up alongside a young group of receivers. All the while, they are trying to grow together to reach the the level of chemistry that can make first-year Charger head coach Chris Cutcliffe’s offense run at optimum output.

McClure has thrown for 918 yards and six touchdowns through four games this season. On the flip side, though, he’s also thrown five interceptions and completed just 48% of his passes. He has to be more efficient and make better decisions at time, no doubt, but it isn’t all on him.

The protection, maturation of young pass catchers and running game are all areas that can affect McClure and make him better.

On the other side, for West Point, it is about continuing to keep continuity and rhythm the offense built against Noxubee County. Knight is going to make the plays that are in front of him, and the ones that aren’t. He is a steady and solid veteran.

With so many young players on both sides, especially those that will affect the passing game, it will be interesting to see how this rivalry will now take shape. Jack Abraham, DK Metcalf, Scott Lashley, Jeffrey Drake and others no longer have their hands on this rivalry game.

**Oxford photo by Oxford High Sports Productions.

**West Point photo by Casey Knight.

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