By Judson Scott
The Oxford Chargers moved into the second round of the 6A Mississippi state playoffs after defeating Warren Central 33-14 last Friday night.
The Chargers (No. 4) may be in for their toughest test when they host perennial power South Panola (No. 5) on Friday, Nov. 22.
South Panola reached the second round of playoffs after defeating Tupelo 39-23 in their first-round game. The Tigers now have to go on the road and face a solid Oxford team in what could be the most entertaining game of the year.
These two teams have been absolute powers this year coming in with a stunning combined record of 23-2. One of these great seasons will come to an end in what should be an epic clash between two powers.
South Panola has been a force all season long both on the ground and through the air. The team has averaged 138.3 receiving yards per game while also rushing a remarkable 286.2 yards per game. It is safe to say Oxford will have to stop the run on Friday if they have any chance of winning.
Led by Anterrio Draper and Janari Dean, South Panola has one of the most dynamic running attacks in the state.
Dean, a Mississippi State University commit, has been a menace on the offensive side of the football this year for the Tigers.
Dean has accumulated 1,568 yards rushing and 15 touchdowns so far on the season. Dean has also run for over 100 yards in seven of South Panola’s 12 games.
“We definitely have a huge challenge facing the top scoring offense in 6A this week,” Chris Cutcliffe, head coach of the Chargers, said. “Janari Dean is a dynamic player and we have to do a tremendous job of tackling to keep him from making explosive plays in the open field.”
It is going to be imperative for defensive standouts like Kiyon Williams and Rontavious Person to shut down South Panola’s potent running attack. Oxford will also need a big game from their offense, and that all starts with quarterback John Meagher.
Meagher has had a solid senior season as the starting quarterback for the Chargers. On the season, Meagher has turned in a 56 percent completion percentage, while also throwing for 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions, compiling a QBR of 82.1.
Meagher is going to have to play the best game of his season against a very dangerous South Panola defense. The defense has forced 16 interceptions and sacked opposing quarterbacks 23.5 times – all of these numbers well above the national average.
The signal-caller will have to get the ball to JJ Pegues, who is one of Oxford’s best offensive threats.
Pegues, an Elite 11 member who also holds offers from perennial powers like Alabama, Auburn and Ole Miss, has had nothing short of an outstanding senior season. The athlete has been used in many different roles by Cutcliffe. Pegues has caught 31 passes for 486 yards and four touchdowns on the receiving side of things. He has also run the ball 50 times for 337 yards and 11 total touchdowns.
The winner of this matchup will move on to the state semifinals, just one win away from a trip to the state championship.