E.A. Sports Today

A look back – Oxford

EDITOR’S NOTE: The coronavirus pandemic has turned our world upside down these past few months and the absence of sports has been tough on avid sports fans. We can only hope the football seasons can go off as scheduled this fall. As we wait, there has been plenty of time to reflect on high school football in Calhoun County.
The following is part of a 14-part series compiled by East Alabama Sports Today contributor Brant Locklier that looks back on the past decade of football for each of the 13 county football-playing schools. The 2020 season that may or may not be will be center stage for the first time at the Calhoun County QB Club Media Day July 24.
Special thanks goes to Ashleigh Jackson, who keyed in all the scores and the website, “The History of Alabama High School Football,” for their information. 

Oxford – Jackets Reach the Top of Class 6A

Summary: After three state championships in Class 5A (1988, 1989, 1993) the Oxford Yellow Jackets moved into Class 6A in 2006 and 14 years later they climbed to the top of class with a state championship in 2019.
It took years of building a team and playing the very best competition they could find in the 6A and 7A ranks and having to catch up with powers such as Clay-Chalkville and Pinson Valley who were in Oxford’s way almost every year.
In 2011, they looked like they had a shot with a team chock-full of future NFL and college stars. They finished that season with wins over Carollton (Ga.), Gadsden City, Hewitt-Trussville, Spain Park, Mountain Brook but lost in the state semi-finals to eventual state champion Hoover.
Had they not lost linebacker Kwon Alexander, now a star linebacker with the San Francisco 49ers, late in the season to an injury it may have been a different story as they lost to Hoover 32-22, with the Bucs getting a late touchdown. The Jackets led Hoover 9-0 with two minutes left in the first half and were inside the Hoover 10 about to go up 16-0, but two late first-half fumbles helped Hoover gain a 14-9 halftime lead.
After a difficult 3-7 2015 season in a tough region, the Jackets came back strong with back-to-back undefeated regular seasons in 2016 and 2017. Still, region opponents Clay-Chalkville and Pinson Valley were winning state championships.
It was Oxford’s turn in 2019. After defeating Pinson Valley twice and splitting with Clay-Chalkville, the Yellow Jackets, under first-year coach Keith Etheredge, battled their way into the state championship game where they rallied to knock off Spanish Fort 14-13 with a last-minute touchdown and claim the top spot in Class 6A.
The Jackets were 48-16 in region play, with undefeated seasons in 2011, 2016 and 2017.
High Point: The high point of the decade was the late drive to score a touchdown and extra point to take a 14-13 win over Spanish Fort in the 2019 state championship game. Starting quarterback Trey Higgins went down with an injury and wide receiver Zay Britt took over at quarterback and led the last-second drive against the clock.
Low Point: The low point had to be a 55-0 loss at Opelika in the middle of the 3-7 2015 season. 
Home Record: The Yellow Jackets were 53-12 at home during the decade with three unbeaten seasons at home in 2010, 2011 and 2017.
Away Record: The road was especially tough in the decade with the type teams Oxford was playing. The Jackets had a 34-22 record on the road.
Play-Offs: Oxford has made the play-offs all but five of the last 40 years. The Yellow Jackets were 15-7 in the play-offs during the past decade, averaging 31 points a game while allowing 21 points a game.
Streaks: The decade had several nice winning streaks for Oxford. They won 13 straight region games over the 2016-2018 seasons. They had a 24-game regular season winning streak over the 2016-2018 seasons and had a 15-game home winning streak over 2016-2018.
Coaches: John Grass was 25-11 from 2010 to 2012 before leaving for Jacksonville State University, where he eventually became the head coach. He was followed by Ryan Herring (50-21) from 2013 to 2018 and Keith Etheredge came in 2019, winning the state championship in his first year.
Players: The Yellow Jacket rosters were full of all-state players in the decade, several of whom went on to play in the NFL.
2019 –Defensive back Antwon Feagans, offensive lineman Brandon Kirksey, defensive back Delven Feagans, running back J.B. Carlisle, defensive lineman Jaylen Swain, defensive lineman Kristin Booth, wide receiver Rock Taylor, linebacker Taveras Elston, defensive back Trequon Feagans, quarterback Trey Higgins and athlete Zay Britt.
2018 – Offensive lineman Clay Webb, offensive lineman Jake Spivey, defensive lineman Jaylen Swain, linebacker Kendall McCallum, linebacker Keon Fomby and running back Tyetus Smith-Lindsey.
2017 – Linebacker Brody Syer, offensive lineman Clay Webb, defensive lineman Jordan Swain and running back Tyetus Smith-Lindsey.
2016 – Offensive lineman Clay Webb, offensive lineman Brett Houston, linebacker Brody Syer, punter Jake Peavy, linebacker K.J. Britt and running back Tyetus Smith-Lindsey.
2015 – Linebacker K.J. Britt.
2014 – Wide receiver Tredarian Gamble.
2013 – Defensive lineman Kenyn Richey, running back Roc Thomas and wide receiver Tredarian Gamble.
2012 – Running back Roc Thomas.
2011 – Wide receiver Coty Spurlin, quarterback Jackson Stephens, offensive lineman Michael Flint, running back Roc Thomas and defensive back Trae Elston.
2010 – Defensive lineman Allen Carson, linebacker Kwon Alexander, offensive lineman Michael Flint and defensive back Trae Elston.
Toughest Opponent: Clay-Chalkville was the Jackets toughest opponent during the decade as the Cougars were 6-3 against Oxford. The Yellow Jackets also had to battle with the Gadsden City Titans and were 6-5 against them during the decade.
The Yellow Jackets were 13-9 combined against the likes of Carrollton (Ga.), Hoover, Spain Park, Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Hewitt-Trussville, Central Phenix City and Pinson Valley during the decade.
Easiest Opponent: Sumter Central faced Oxford four times in the decade and Oxford outscored them 181-22 in those four games. The Jackets were 9-1 against Pell City during the decade.
Best Offense: The 2011 team had the highest scoring average of the decade as they averaged 37.8 points in 14 games. The 2019 team set a record for points scored in a season as they scored 556 points in 15 games. 
Best Defense: The 2017 team only allowed 7.6 points a game. That was 99 points in 13 games and five shutouts. Clay-Chalkville scored 31 of those points in their 31-15 play-off victory over the Yellow Jackets.
Best Team: The 2019 team won the championship and that makes it the best of the decade. 
2020 Oxford Schedule
(Pre-pandemic, opponent 2019 record in parenthesis)
Aug. 22 – at Thompson (14-1)
Aug. 28 – at Pleasant Grove (13-2)
Sept. 4 – at Scottsboro (9-3)
Sept. 11 – at Southside Gadsden (2-8)
Sept. 18 – at Pell City (1-9)
Sept. 25 – vs. Gadsden City (1-9)
Oct. 2 – Open
Oct. 9 – vs. Arab (6-4)
Oct. 16 – vs. Springville (4-6)
Oct. 23 – at Fort Payne (9-3)
Oct. 30 – vs. Central Phenix City (13-2)

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