Ray Dayton came on board as head coach of Oxford a little too late to piece together a remembrance of a past great Oxford team. That club, in 1981, went unbeaten under head coach Tony Abbott. This season, with the welcomed help of the Oxford boosters, Dayton and the 2012 Blackhawks will honor the 1982 Oxford Blackhawks that also went 10-0 winning a sectional game and finishing seventh in the state in the small school state rankings.
“Both of those teams (‘81 and ‘82) had great seasons, and to finish seventh in state that year, that was a big deal,” Dayton said. “This is a sports crazy town, and we wanted to bring back those players to honor them. We’re hoping some of our kids can feed off of that. Football has been a monster here, and our kids need to see the people who created that monster.”
Dayton gave a lot of credit to Tony Abbott and his assistants, Don Cooper and John Curtis, for building a great football program that was a consistent winner for over three decades. “We’re trying to build the program up like it was before, and I hope we get a good crowd to watch,” Dayton said.
As for the issue of actually playing the game, Oxford will look to even its mark on the season at 1-1 against visiting Unadilla Valley. UV is a bit of an unknown quantity since its opening game against Deposit-Hancock was canceled. The Eagles had multiple players suspended for the contest bringing their team numbers below the state minimum standard.
“We scouted their scrimmage, and it looks like (UV) has some big kids up front and a couple of good backs,” Dayton said of the Storm. “I know their coach (Daryl Decker) is excited, and he has his kids excited to play. Other than that, we really don’t have a clue.”
Dayton has reason for optimism in this game. Coming off a scrimmage that featured Chenango Forks and Vestal, the Blackhawks’ offense continued to click against Walton, and an early TD in the third quarter had Oxford in front 21-12. Walton, though, returned the next kickoff for a touchdown, and took control of the game with an impressive ground game to pull out a 42-28 win.
In the loss, Oxford amassed over 370 yards of total offense against a Warriors team that is usually stingy on the defensive side of the ball. “I felt we did a good job of moving the ball in the scrimmage, and did the same thing against Walton,” Dayton said. “We feel we have a pretty good offense. Defensively, we need to get better, and I’m sure we will this week.”