With many Chargers-of-tomorrow on hand for the 5A North Half title game, several current Chargers said the 3-1 victory over Starkville was as much about those in the stands and in the community as it was about the immediate team.
“It’s for the Oxford soccer community. I think we had everybody from the U-10 teams that are out at the Oxford Park Commission out here cheering us on,” Oxford assistant coach Mike Melton said. “This was a win for the whole community. Oxford in general has been developing like crazy and I think this is kind of showing how far we’ve come.”
For head coach Jamie Perkins, Oxford’s success represents the hard work the current players have put in as much as where the program is headed.
“We’re headed in the right track. We have some young kids coming up that are going to be special,” he said. “When you have eight seniors, it’s big (to have talented players coming up the ranks). This is my fourth year. I’ve had them since they were ninth graders. You mold them and they listen to you. They’re coachable and do what you ask them to and the biggest thing is they make plays.”
Heading into Tuesday’s game, the Chargers didn’t need to be reminded of the stakes.
“Our motivation was so high,” senior forward Hunter Stewart said. “They beat us at our house last year and it broke everyone’s hearts so we couldn’t let it happen again.”
Nearly 20 minutes after the final whistle sounded, senior Baxter Elliott was still struggling to comprehend the night’s outcome.
“I’m in shock. All year we’ve been working to this point and to finally get to the state championship game is something special,” he said. “This is something special for the school. Nobody has respected us and the last three years we’ve been good but not able to get over the hump. Now hopefully people will look at Oxford and say they have a good soccer team and are a program on the rise.”
Regardless of Saturday’s result, Perkins is proud of what his team has accomplished.
“They played together as a unit and didn’t let up. They had that fire,” he said. “When you have that fire there’s no stopping us. Even if we get beat by Pearl, so what? We made it to the state championship for the first time in school history. That’s an amazing accomplishment. It’s an amazing group of young players. They believe in us. Coach Mike does an awesome job.”
—email@example.com (January 30, 2013, Page 7)