Nov. 17—For decades, the Little Egg Bowl has been one of the bigger rivalries in Mississippi high school football.
Starkville and Oxford have played one another 48 times since 1940, with the Yellow Jackets leading the all-time series 35-12-1. The 49th matchup between the teams will come tonight in the Class 7A North half semifinals.
"We've had a lot of exciting games, particularly over the last five or six years," Oxford coach Chris Cutcliffe said. "This time of year, it's easy to get excited about any game for sure, but there's definitely an added element to it when it's a rival."
The most recent matchup came on Sept. 22, with the Jackets winning 33-13 at home.
Starkville coach Chris Jones understands that with Cutcliffe on the opposite sideline, his team must play a complete game.
"He does a really good job of having his guys ready," Jones said. "So, we got to make sure that we leave no stone unturned."
This will be the third time the teams have met in the playoffs. Starkville beat Oxford in the second round in 2012. The Chargers then beat the Yellow Jackets in the 2019 North half final.
A big key for Oxford in the rematch will be the run game. The Chargers have averaged just under 175 yards on the ground in each of their eight wins, but have been held to 117 in their three losses. Winning the line of scrimmage, on both sides of the ball, will be imperative.
"We've got to do a great job of limiting their ability to run the football, and we've got to be able to run it," Cutcliffe said.
The biggest thing for Starkville, which is looking to win a second straight state title, is to maintain a "playoff mindset."
"It all starts with practice and preparation, and we're just trying to focus on that more so than anything," Jones said. "Just bring your A-game and you know, just perform the best that you can perform."
The teams kick off at 7 p.m. at Oxford High School.
—On the other side of the 7A North half bracket, Tupelo (9-2) hosts Madison Central (7-4) in the semifinal for the second straight year.
—Baldwyn (7-5) hosts Vardaman (12-0) in the 1A bracket.
—In the 2A bracket, Hamilton (7-5) looks to keep its season alive as it hosts Charleston (10-2).