from staff reports
The Meridian Star
Meridian High doesn’t play this week as the majority of the largest two classes in the MHSAA have a bye week prior to the start of division play next week.
But the Wildcats still have a bull’s-eye on their backs as they head into the bye, sitting atop the MPB Top 25 rankings and the state’s Associated Press poll.
Meridian, which has won 30 straight regular season games, ascended to the top spots a week ago following South Panola’s loss to Hoover, Ala. The Wildcats then defeated Quitman 21-6 on Friday, remaining there. MHS (4-0) leads defending Class 6A champion Olive Branch by 11 points in the MPB poll, and 28 points in the overall rankings of the AP poll. Meridian is 20 points ahead of the Conquistadors in the Class 6A portion of the AP rankings.
Quitman, which fell to 3-1 with the loss to the top-ranked Wildcats, fell out of the MPB rankings. The Panthers climbed into the poll last week at No. 24 before tumbling back out. They have the fourth-most votes of the teams not ranked.
Quitman did remain at No. 4 in the AP’s Class 4A rankings behind Tylertown, which leapfrogged Noxubee County, and two-time defending champion Lafayette. The Panthers host North Forrest on Friday.
The only other area team ranked is Class 3A power Philadelphia. The Tornadoes, who have won 32 straight regular season games, are No. 2 in their class according to the AP. Philly (4-0) trails Hazlehurst by 16 points. The Tornadoes, who host Northeast Lauderdale on Friday, have the third-most votes of schools not ranked in the MPB Top 25.
East Mississippi Community College continued its reign atop the NJCAA Top 20 rankings as the defending national champions even picked up an additional first-place vote.
The 2-0 Lions, fresh off a 51-7 demolition of rival East Central Community College, received eight of the nine first-place votes and 140 points overall. They lead Butler (Kan.) Community College by seven points.
Arizona Western, last year’s national runner-up, is third followed by Mississippi Gulf Coast. Hinds is ranked sixth, while Northwest Mississippi is ranked No. 10 and Itawamba broke into the poll in a tie at No. 20