The Meridian Star
The Meridian High School football teams is coming off two straight losses to Class 6A powerhouse teams and it won't get any easier in Week 10 as the Wildcats travel to Petal.
Head coach Larry Weems said that last week, or even two weeks ago when Brandon beat Petal, doesn't matter. It's all about how each team plays on any given day.
"They beat them two weeks ago, that has nothing to do with Friday night," he said. "How you play one week don't mean that's how you going to play the next week."
Even last year is history and has little to do with this week. In 2012, when Petal and Meridian squared off, the Panthers' walked off with a two-point win, 23-21.
"They are all close games, we had an opportunity to win and we didn't," Weems said. "Every game we've had with them, that's the way it's been … 2- or 3-point game and had opportunities to get it in and we didn't."
Late season wins are big for playoff berths. For Petal, this game could put them into a three-way tie atop the Region 3-6A standings as they enter the game 3-1, to Meridian's 2-2.
Even if they take a loss, Weems isn't worried about missing the postseason as this is the last hard games of the regular season, but it makes the final two must wins.
"Even if we win out the next three games, the best we could finish in our region is possibly third," he said. "If we don't beat Petal, win our last two games, we could still get in as a four seed. We'll deal with them next week. Like I said, it just moves you from fourth to third seed possibly if we win out."
Last week, Brandon forced the Wildcats to throw the ball more than usual, which cut down on Richard McQuarleys run game. He's finally back to full strength after an ankle injury but only covered 26 yards on eight carries.
"We got behind in the game and had to throw the ball," Weems said. "We didn't really have a whole lot of snaps."
For only the third time this year, quarterback J'Mar Smith threw for over 200 yards, reaching 10 yards shy of a season best at 243 yards on 12-of-22 passing. But, identical to the week before in the loss to Oak Grove, he didn't connect with a receiver in the end zone and threw two picks.
Petal is bringing in a producing offense that is averaging 34.8 points per game, good for fifth in Class 6A according to MaxPreps team stats leaders, making it hard to tango without putting points on the board.
As a team, the Panthers rushed for 2128 yards, led by Tyus Raine's 933. Those stats have this week stacking up to be another challenge for Meridian's secondary which has seen plenty of action, but little success in the last few weeks in back-to-back 25-point plus losses.
"We'll try to get more at the point of attack and try to get them down, get more people to the football," Weems said. "Hopefully, we'll do that."
Weems said getting stops and eliminating turnovers will be key to getting a win on Friday night.
"You're not going to win any ballgames when you can't keep the ball a bit longer and that's because we turned the ball over," he said.