OXFORD — We found out Friday how good No. 6 Oxford can be, minus the two biggest brand names on its roster … good enough to rout a region opponent.
Minus linebacker and LSU commit Kendall McCallum and five-star offensive lineman Clay Webb, Oxford got two special-teams touchdowns and 100-yard rushing performances from Tyetus Smith-Lindsey and J.B. Carlisle en route to a 47-13 rout of Shades Valley on Lamar Field.
Oxford (6-1) clinched a playoff berth and improved to 3-1 in 6A, Region 6, headed into a likely second-place showdown next week at Clay-Chalkville.
The Yellow Jackets expect Webb to return to action next week after he missed Friday’s game because of an in-school suspension, Oxford coach Ryan Herring said. McCallum has worn a heart monitor since experiencing an asthma-like episode, Herring said.
McCallum’s Monday post to Snapchat said he will undergo heart surgery Monday. Herring said Tuesday that McCallum might need a heart catheter.
“He’ll have that whatever done Monday, and we should know, I would guess Tuesday what his situation us,” Herring said. “The biggest deal is, they’re going to err on the side of caution. You deal with a brain or a heart, in football, they always err on the side of caution, and that’s fine.”
Webb “got in a little trouble,” Herring said, leading to in-school suspension and his missing Friday’s game.
“He’ll be playing next week,” Herring said.
Webb is one of the state’s most touted recruits, believed to be weighing Alabama, Auburn, Clemson and Georgia. He has said he’ll announce his commitment in December and enroll early.
The Yellow Jackets had to go without Webb and McCallum on Friday, and it didn’t show on the scoreboard.
“Going into this week, Coach Herring said something that, I guess, inspired us,” said Denico Tanner, who scored twice on returns of blocked punts. “He told us, that without Kendall and Clay, our bonds are going to be even stronger without them.
“It showed tonight.”
It showed most on special teams. Tanner was twice the beneficiary of Keon Fomby punt blocks, returning the first five yards to put the Yellow Jackets up 7-0 at 6:26 of the first quarter and the second 19 yards to make it 27-7 at 8:50 of the third.
Herring called the blocks “game changers.”
“Fomby is the fastest kid on the team, and there’s not even a close second,” he said. “He’s got the ability to block any punt if they don’t get something on him. …
“It wasn’t anything we were doing where we saw just a huge weakness. We just knew, if we brought four from one side, we had a shot to get it.”
Oxford also scored on Smith-Lindsey’s 89-yard kickoff return to start the third quarter, setting up quarterback Trae Higgins’ 5-yard touchdown run to make it 21-7.
Smith-Lindsey also broke an 80-yard touchdown run to break a 7-7 tie at 7:40 of the second quarter and added a 16-yard scoring run in the third. He finished with 110 rushing yards on nine carries.
Fullback J.B. Carlisle, who transferred from Anniston before this season, rushed six times for a team-high 161 yards, including an 89-yard run and a 39-yard touchdown run.
Higgins completed 7 of 13 passes for 86 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown pass to Jaylen Swain in the third quarter.
Oxford gained 412 total yards to 162 for Shades Valley, an all-around strong outing without McCallum and Webb.
“That says a lot about these guys in here,” Herring said.