OXFORD — An inexperienced Oxford Wildcat squad struggled through much of the 2018 season. In fact, it wasn’t until the final game of the season that OHS was able to finally pick up that elusive win.
Maybe that one victory can give the Wildcats some much-needed momentum heading into the 2019 campaign, which gets underway on Sept. 6 when they entertain South Central Border League foe Central of Burden.
“We should see some improvements this year if our numbers improve and we stay healthy,” said longtime Wildcat coach Shawn Burkes, who has a 49-70 record and two district championships entering his 14th season on the OHS sideline. “A lot of kids got playing time last year.”
Oxford closed out the regular season winless in eight games a year ago, which included an 0-5 mark for sixth place in Eight Man I-District 2. OHS was not one of the top four teams in the district to reach the playoffs, meaning it was forced to play a crossover game against District 1’s West Elk to close out the season. It was a rewarding game for the Wildcats, who thumped the Patriots 86-40 to close out a 1-8 campaign.
The Wildcats picked up a year of experience under their belts and now have five returning starters on both sides of the ball. That includes All-SCBL Honorable Mention selections in senior quarterback/linebacker Ty Carter and senior offensive/defensive lineman Colton Jordan. All-District 2 Honorable Mention pick Hunter Norland returns for his senior season at center and defensive end. Also back in the lineup will be senior Andrew Hills at running back and linebacker, as well as junior Josh Smith at running back and linebacker.
Burkes noted one newcomer that could make an impact in junior Colin Whitson at defensive back.
Following the season opener with Central-Burden, the Wildcats will play four of their next six games on the road. Prior to district play, OHS will travel to Sedan on Sept. 13 before hosting Flinthills on Sept. 20.
District 2 action gets underway on Sept. 27 with a trip to Medicine Lodge. A home game with Caldwell follows on Oct. 4 before the Wildcats make back-to-back trips to Argonia/Attica on Oct. 11 and South Central on Oct. 18. The regular season concludes on Oct. 25 with a home game against Udall.