E.A. Sports Today

Oxford rolls after Roc

Yellow Jackets use balanced attack to beat Southside in opener, 42-21

“Our whole offense is the new Roc; just everybody’s the new weapon.”

–Oxford receiver Jacob Cook

By Al Muskewitz
East Alabama Sports Today

SOUTHSIDE — Everyone in the high school football world wanted to know this offseason how Oxford was going to do offensively this year without Roc Thomas in the backfield. Oxford coach Ryan Herring was more concerned about his defense.

Both questions were answered in a positive way Thursday night as the Yellow Jackets opened their season with 42-21 win at Southside in front of more than 5,000 fans at Barney Hood Stadium.

The offense without Roc showed exceptional balance, opening up early through the air highlighted by the pass-catch combination of Ty Webber and Jacob Cole and keeping it on the ground in the second half with the lead. The defense, meanwhile, acquitted itself well with the exception of some Southside razzle-dazzle and a couple broken plays that went for big yardage.

“It was the way I expecting it,” said Webber, who predicted in the days before the game the Jackets would be just fine offensively. “If anything, I think we could’ve done better.”

The senior quarterback and three-year starter completed 13 of 20 passes for 287 yards and two touchdowns; he also ran for 40 yards and a score. Cook caught for nine balls for 223 yards and two scores. Thomas Rudolph, the former safety now at running back, ran for two touchdowns

The Oxford offense had 493 total yards — 288 through the air, 205 on the ground. Its defense, which returned only one starter from last season, held a Southside offense missing massive lineman Tyler Carr (illness) to 256 yards.

“We’ve got some weapons,” Herring said. “Of course Roc is gone and everybody was kind of thinking the only weapon they have now is (Tre) Gamble.

“Well, Ty can run it and throw it. You’ve got Jacob Cook out there and he has speed, great hands and runs the best routes of anybody on the team. And you’ve got Gamble who’s all-world. … We’ve got more than one guy we have to rely on.”

Webber and Cook established their presence in the first half.

Cook took advantage of Southside’s concentration on Gamble to catch eight passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns in the half; he had a 16-yard grab during the opening drive of the third quarter. Webber was 10-of-16 for 246 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a score.

The Yellow Jackets scored 28 points in the second quarter and never trailed.

Among Cook’s catches were gains of 29, 21, 36, 43 and 53 yards. Herring called Gamble “the best receiver in the state” in the preseason, but opponents will have to be aware of Cook as well. Cook drew raves during the 7-on-7 camps.

“I’d say that was a pretty good way to start off the season right there,” Cook said. “They were just bracketing Big Man (Gamble) and we came up with a game plan and we stuck with it. I just got on the toes of the safeties and corners and they just couldn’t cover me when I got on their toes.

“Everybody on our team believes we have the best offense in the state. We believe we’re better right now than we were at this point last season and we’ve got a team that’s going to compete real far into the playoffs. Our whole offense is the new Roc; just everybody’s the new weapon.”

The Yellow Jackets shut down Southside early, holding the Panthers without a first down until the final two minutes of the half, but the Panthers were able to solve them with some broken plays from their wing-T and razzle dazzle.

Southside’s first touchdown came on a double pass and their second was set up by a 43-yard run. The Panthers started moving the ball out of the wildcat with stellar sophomore Alaric Williams at the point, but even he succumbed to the heat and pounding by the Jackets.

“I knew we could do good,” said linebacker Kenney Britt, who leveled Williams with one of the hardest hits of the night. “We come out there and practice for the mindset that we can get better. I feel like as long as we come out there and practice and know we’re going to get better no offense in America should score on us.”

Oxford 42, Southside 21

Oxford 0 28 7 7 — 42
Southside 0 14 7 0 — 21

O – Ty Webber 4 run (Keaton Borrelli kick)
O – Jacob Cook 36 pass from Webber (Borrelli kick)
S – Triston Shaw 74 pass from Holt Keeling (Kristian Wilmore kick)
O – Dylan Sipplin 11 run (Borrelli kick)
S – Alaric Williams 1 run (Wilmore kick)
O – Cook 53 pass from Webber (Borrelli kick)
O — Thomas Rudolph 5 run (Borrelli kick)
S – Williams 65 run (Wilmore kick)
O – Rudolph 13 run (Borrelli kick)

Ox So
First downs 19 17
Rush-yds 34-205 40-178
C-A-I 13-20-0 4-5-0
Pass yds 288 78
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 2-2
Punts-avg 2-18.5 5-35.2
Penalties 15-123 5-35

Jamboree Single Games
Saks 38, St. Clair Co. 17
Wadley 28, Central Coosa 6

Multi-team jamborees
At Spring Garden
Glencoe 7, White Plains 0
Sand Rock 14, White Plains 0

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