E.A. Sports Today

Oxford’s Webber ‘extremely pumped’

Oxford quarterback Ty Webber (4) looks over for a play during practice earlier this week.

Oxford quarterback Ty Webber (4) looks over for a play during practice earlier this week.

Yellow Jackets get 2014 season started with Thursday night game at Southside


Thursday’s games
Oxford at Southside, Gadsden

Friday’s games
Alexandria at Jacksonville
JCA at Shades Mountain Christian
Ohatchee at Southeastern School

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

OXFORD – Ty Webber is more excited about this year’s season opener than any he can ever remember. There is so much to be excited about.

It’s the Oxford quarterback’s senior year, so this kicks off his last go-round with a bunch of guys he’s been playing ball with all his life. It’s the year after Roc Thomas, and that creates a plethora of possibilities for him and the Yellow Jackets’ offense.

It’s on Thursday night, when it’s the only game in town and an overflow crowd is expected at Southside’s Barney Hood Stadium to watch two Class 6A heavyweights knocking of the door of the Top 10. And it comes against a team that went 13-1 last year and expects more, so you know it will be a stern test.

“I’m pumped, extremely pumped,” Webber said. “I think our team is looking better than ever right now. We’re still going to improve as the year goes, but on Thursday we’re ready to kick tail. We’re ready to get out there and play.”

The Oxford-Southside game is the first of four regular-season games involving Calhoun County teams in this first week of the season. The others are Friday night – Alexandria at Jacksonville, Ohatchee at Southeastern School and Jacksonville Christian at Shades Mountain Christian.

Webber is ready for a big year in a year of big responsibilities. As a three-year starter, he’s in charge of running the Jackets’ offense, but this year it’s an offense that won’t have Thomas as its focal point. Thomas is the state’s reigning Mr. Football who took his talents to Auburn after rushing for 2,211 yards and 32 touchdowns last season.

Even with Thomas in the lineup, Webber found a way to move the ball last year. He accounted for 2,200 all-purpose yards and had a 21-5 touchdown to interception passing ratio. He wanted to run the ball more last year; this year he’ll get his wish.

Plus, hard-hitting safety Thomas Rudolph has been moved to running back to put some punch in the backfield and 1,400-yard receiving duo Tre Gamble and Jacob Cook are back.

“It’s definitely going to be a lot more fun,” Webber said of the offense’s look. “It’s going to be spread out. Big plays are going to happen.

“The people are wanting to see what we can do without (Thomas), but we already know we can show up and win without him. I’m looking forward to proving everybody wrong – that we’re going to have a team without him. We’re going to be just as good if not better.”

If last week’s scrimmage was any indication, Webber appears ready to deliver. Jackets coach Ryan Herring said the quarterback played better in that exercise “than I’ve ever seen him play top to bottom.”

While most people everyone outside the Oxford program is wondering how the Yellow Jackets are going to fare without Thomas, Herring is more interested in the state of his defense, which returned only one starter. They have been steadily putting the pieces around linebacker Tanner Lloyd and for the most part they’ve fallen into place although there are still some pockets of development.

“I want to see how we’re going to play on defense, how we’re going to run to the play, how we’re going to tackle, intensity, focus, urgency,” Herring said. “In the spring jamboree the defense kind of surprised me. I thought they got after it more than I was really expecting, so I can’t wait to see how they do Thursday night.”

Al Muskewitz is Content Editor/Senior Writer of East Alabama Sports Today. He can be reached at musky@wrightmediacorp.com and followed on Twitter @easportstoday1.

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