The #4 Oxford Yellow Jackets roll into Williams Adams Stadium Friday night to face the #3 Pinson Valley Indians in a huge Class 6A, Region 6 game. Both teams come into the game undefeated in the region.
Last season, Pinson Valley defeated Oxford 28-13 on the road and have a 31-game winning streak against other 6A teams dating back to 2016, but this is a new Pinson Valley team as key players have graduated and have moved onto college campuses while coming off two Alabama 6A State Championships. Even though players have moved on, there is a lot of talent on this 2019 team. "Every year is different. We are 3-1 and we haven't won anything," said Indians head coach Patrick Nix. "This is a whole different group of guys. We have experience in different spots, but they workout differently and they interact in the locker room differently than the team in the past. We have a whole bunch of dudes that do their job and work extremely hard. We are very unselfish and because of that we are successful. We are not the most talent team but we are very good team that plays unselfish that loves each other and plays hard for each other."
Pinson Valley (3-1, 2-0) have impressive wins over Shades Valley (23-7) and Clay-Chalkville (31-7) over the last two weeks in the region. "We played pretty well against Hewitt against a good football team," said Indians head coach Patrick Nix. "We have done that every week. Competed well, played hard, getting better each week from reps and learning the game."
One player that has taken advantage of those reps and playing time is quarterback Barry White. The senior quarterback takes over the position from Auburn quarterback Bo Nix and has played well for the Indians. "Barry has done good and has done bad. We have had more sacks and interceptions than we had in the last four years," added Nix. "We have executing at times. More ups than downs and that is part of it. We have a good supporting cast around him. We have found ways to win games around him this year. Barry has done some good things and he is working hard to get better on making the right reads and the little things that will help us win football games." Throw in Caleb Nix who comes off the bench but gets key minutes in games.
With White on offense, the Indians like to give you a lot of guys that touch the ball on the ground or threw the air. Pinson Valley can go with Kenji Christian at running back along with Ga'Quincy McKinstry, Keyonteze Johnson, Jaquel Fells and Mike Sharp at wideouts but all five of them could run the ball or catch it at anytime. Throw in BJ Diakite and Taborie Reed that get playing time from the wide receiver spots. Fells can move to running back with Christian. Also, look for McKinstry and Johnson to run the ball from the wildcat spots. Don't be surprised that they both don't have a play or two where they can throw it from the wildcat position. Jay Sharp has been injured but another big weapon for the Indians offense.
McKinstry has all kinds of offers from Alabama, Auburn and the rest of the SEC along with Clemson and Ohio State. Johnson is a Troy University verbal commit.
The offensive line has been steady this season. Joel Brown, Rayvon Crum, Nick Miller, Neilson Holt and Donovan Hawkins make up the Indians offensive line. Hawkins is the anchor at 6-foot-2, 275 pounds and when he goes after those corners on those wide receiver screens it is a scary scene for those DB's.
The Pinson Valley defense has played well this season. After giving up 40 points in a loss to start the season. The Indians defense have only given up a touchdown a game in the last three wins.
The secondary has been spectacular for the Indians this season. Corners Deshazo Williams and DeMarques Densmore along with safeties Tomas Wesley, Jamari Dailey and Markel Dailey. Markel Dailey brings strong run support from his position. Jamari had a interception and Wesley had a pick-6 against Clay-Chalkville last week. "We are good in the secondary," said Nix. "We have a lot of returners that have played multiple games. Probably the best corner in the country is not playing their right now so we could be unbelievable good in the secondary if we need to be. Probably the strength of our team. We played enough man and zone last week. We can do a lot of different things in the secondary so it creates a lot of good depth and a lot of good play. They are so knowledgeable in the secondary so there are a lot of things that we can do with them. Move them around because they are so knowledgeable." The player Nix is talking about taking the secondary to another level if they had to is to move McKinstry to that spot. He played a lot of snaps at corner last year and is so talented at wide receiver or corner for the Indians.
At linebacker, Antoine Williams and Dorian Henderson shut down the run game with Kendall Thornton, Tradarrius Swanson, Martiez Claughton and Julian Peterson on the defensive line. "Great thing about our linebackers, they bring great experience," said Nix. "Because both linebackers have great experience, we don't have to lean just on one. They are taking care of each other making them great players."
White does a good job with the punting duties while Chris Ruiz-Soto handles the field goal duties.
Oxford (4-0, 1-0) has wins over Munford (48-6), Gadsden City (42-7), Pell City (41-7) and Charles Henderson (49-14). Oxford has experience on both side of the ball and will need the experience in this big game against Pinson Valley. "Our guys have played hard but there are things that we still need to do to correct our mistakes," said Yellow Jackets head coach Keith Etheredge. "Were playing a great Pinson Valley team with great athletes and are fundamentally sound. They are a very good football team with tons of athletes and we need to be ready to play."
Quarterback Trey Higgins leads the way for the Yellow Jackets offense. A duel-threat quarterback that is playing well for Oxford. "Trey is a great athlete, real smart kid and a better kid then he is a player," add Etheredge. "Great leader, very unselfish kid and it is hard to find an unselfish kid these days, but he wants to do anything to make the team win. If we need a big play, he can make it." Last week against Charles Henderson, Higgins completed 10-of-19 passing for 116 yards & two TD's with 148 yards on 10 carries & two TD's. What a great night for the junior QB who has an offer from Jacksonville State.
At running back is Jonovan Carlisle. One of the most versatile players at his position. "Jonovan can do everything," said Etheredge. "He can run the ball in between the tackles or can get to the edge, blocks well and catches the ball out of the backfield. Very unselfish kid that wants to win."
The receiving core is a good one. Roc Taylor, Zay Britt, Devion Ball and tight end Camden Ethridge can all make plays and can run the ball after the catch very effectively. Taylor holds offers from Memphis, Florida Atlantic, North Alabama, Southern Miss, Troy University and UAB. Britt can run it at times or catch it. Another versatile players for the Yellow Jackets. Britt has offers from Central Michigan, Jacksonville State, Liberty, Southern Mississippi and UAB. "Devion does a great job blocking on the perimeter," said Etheredge. "Great teammate. He does everything the right way."
The offensive line of Brandon Kirksey, Tucker Starling, Kyle Pilkington, Peyton Heard and Bradyn Joiner lead the way for the Yellow Jackets. "Brandon is going to be a big time player," said Etheredge. "Bradyn is a ninth grader starting on the offensive front and Kyle Pilkington is doing a great job for us. These guys work hard."
On defense, the defensive line of Jabree Ford, Kristin Booth, Octavious Adair and Justin Woodrow are solid for the Yellow Jackets and are going to be huge in this game putting pressure on the Indians offense.
Linebackers Jordan Dobbins, Tavares Elston and Chance Holifield are solid. "We play a pressure style defense," added Etheredge. "We have great players on the back end. Holifield is playing outside and learning the game. He makes a few mistakes but he does it at 100 miles an hour and we can live with that right now. He is stepping up. We have four sophomores starting on the defense and they are playing great right now." Elston and Dobbins are both sophomores and are learning on the run. Both Dobbins and Holifield have led the team in tackles in different games this season.
The secondary is very good. Corners Trequon Fegans and Delvon Fegans are solid. Safeties Antwon Fegans and Malik Satcher round out the secondary. There are three Fegans on the varsity team and one on the way on the freshman team and another one coming up on the junior high team. Many Fegans for many more years to help out Oxford football. Delvon Fegans has an offer from Arkansas State.
"Were treating this as the next game," added Etheredge. "We have young players that need to play 100 miles an hour. If we do that, were going to creat some problems for the other team."
The big matchup will be to see if the Oxford secondary can handle the skill players of Pinson Valley. Clay-Chalkville did that for a half last week, but it was all Pinson Valley in the second half. Pinson Valley is going to score some points in this game, can Oxford keep up with the scoring Friday night. Looking forward to this big game.