• John Macon Gillespie

Games That Left Their Mark | The Charger Chapters

Originally published in the 2016 SES Season Review Magazine.

If you don’t know me personally, I am an Oxford native, a track athlete, a sports editor, and the biggest fan of Oxford Charger football. It all started when my oldest brother, Jonathan, joined the varsity football squad in his sophomore year in 2008. Prior to that, I really didn't know all that much about football, let alone watched it.

I remember the 2008 opener like it was yesterday, not really the game itself, but just the atmosphere. Something about being at Bobby Holcomb Field, smelling the burgers cook on the grill, being under the lights, sitting with family, listening to “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins in pregame over the PA, eating Reece's, and listening to the band play made me have an instant love for watching the Chargers on Friday nights.

In my ninth year of watching the Chargers play, I’ve missed a total of four games from 2008-2016. In games that I’ve witnessed, my record is 81-32. Of the 81 games I’ve watched the Chargers win, six of those really stuck out to me. Here is the one of those wins that I will remember for a while.

Oxford at Pearl, 2010

Coming into 2010, the Chargers had an offense littered with talent at just about every position. They finished the 2010-11 season at 8-3 and traveled to Pearl for the opening round of the 5A playoffs.

The Pirates defeated the Chargers the previous season 28-14. Circumstances were fairly similar this time around, except the Chargers had a much better and more experienced squad than the previous season. I remember walking into Ray Rogers Stadium and having flashbacks to the season before. I remember vividly that right before kickoff, I looked at our sideline and saw our starting punter, William Elliot, on crutches and in street clothes. I thought to my 11 year old self: “Crap, this isn't good.” Turns out we didn't need him at all, literally, Oxford didn't face 3rd or 4th down the ENTIRE night.

Oxford received the ball to begin the game. Pearl kicked an onside kick, recovered the onside kick, and Pearl’s D.J. Blake scored within a couple plays. I looked up at the scoreboard and said to myself: “Welp, here we go again…” And then BAM, Oxford’s offense caught fire and didn't die down one bit the rest of the night.

Sure, the defense did it’s job, holding Pearl to just 14 points, but the offense showed up and showed out. As mentioned before, the Chargers had only first downs and second downs, ZERO 3rd and 4th downs. They made it look effortless against Pearl’s defense. Even my younger self saw that.

Keep in mind, this was back when Oxford was a Power-I offense and when Jack Abraham and D.K. Metcalf were just in the 7th grade. On the night, the Chargers had 23 first downs and 49 points in essentially three quarters before the backups came in. Guy Billups went 12-14 for 267 yards and four TDs, no picks. Deshaun McNeal was a monster at receiver, getting 9 catches for 163 yards and 3 TDs. Even the ground game was rolling, Lamont Dean had 18 carries for 173 yards and 2 TDs. Dean averaged 9 yards a carry.

I thought this game was significant because of what the Chargers did offensively against that talented 8-3 Pearl squad. That was the best offensive outing I've ever seen Oxford have prior to the offensive juggernauts of the Class of 2016.

**This is the first of a six part series.

Follow Jared on Twitter @TheJaredRedding

#JaredRedding #Oxford #ChargerChapters

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