DiGIOVANNI: Oxford hopes it’s time to take the next step in Ches-Mont hierarchy

It is finally here.

The 2020 scholastic football season finally gets underway tonight, after a six-week postponement due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

League and district playoffs will look quite different in this crazy 2020 season, but one thing that stands out is the Oxford Hornets quest to take the next step in the Ches-Mont League’s American Division race.

For far too long, Oxford was a doormat for the rest of the American Division, and the hardest thing about facing the Hornets was the long drive south to get to the far-off school.

But, five years ago, new head coach Mike Means took over the Hornets, and through hard work and perseverance, things started to change.

Now, when opposing head coaches talk about the Hornets, they always say they have to work up a specific gameplan for Oxford. What they don’t say out loud is just how much Means’ hurry-up, no-huddle offense is a pain in the you know what to prepare for.

Means took over for Mike Pietlock, who himself improved the Hornets program from what it was. But it has been Means, a former record-setting quarterback at Cocalico High School, who is in charge of taking the Hornets’ program to the next level, where it’s in the hunt for a division title and a District 1 Class 5A playoff berth.

And as anyone who has follows the Ches-Mont American Division knows, that means defeating West Chester Rustin and Unionville, the two mainstays atop the division standings. Means knows it will not be easy. The likable head coach fully acknowledges it is one thing to say, “we can beat the big boys,” but it is entirely something else to go out and actually do it.

This 2020 Oxford team is the deepest Means has had in his four previous years in southern Chesco. Means says the 14-member senior class is also the toughest and most close-knit of any he has had. Means had to replace quarterback Tom Repetz and his big arm, and it will the third straight season Oxford will have a first-year senior starter as its signal-caller.

Means is not making any predictions about this season. With Rustin and Unionville back with solid teams and the reining devision champion West Chester East in the mix, the American Division is deeper than it has ever been. Throw in the resurgence of Kennett under head coach Lance Frazier, and the American is a tough division top to bottom, and no longer takes a back seat to any in District 1.

Oxford has taken strides under the prepared and dedicated Means. The offseason weight room plan is no longer a suggestion, it is a requirement and the Hornet players have embraced the new regime and are about as hungry as they can be to make that next step from respectable to contender.

No one knows if this is the season the Hornets make that next step, but what is certain is that under Mike Means the Hornets will be working tirelessly to get over the next hurdle and finally put Oxford football on the map.

Peter DiGiovanni covers high school football for the Daily Local News and Pa. Prep Live. You can reach him at pdigiovanni07@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @PeteDLN.

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