By Tony Tsoukalas / Sports Writer
The Meridian Star
The 2013 Meridian High School non-conference football schedule has been announced, and headlining next year's matchups for the Wildcats will be an Sept. 6 game against defending 6A champion South Panola.
The Wildcats will begin their season against Northwest Rankin on Aug. 23. The Cougars finished the 2012 season at 4-7 and were led by junior running back Curtis Hicks on offense. NW Rankin finished 3-4 in Region 2-6A last season, one game outside the fourth and final playoff spot in the division. The location of the game has yet to be determined.
Meridian will make a trip to Quitman in its second game on Aug. 30. The Wildcats beat Quitman 21-6 on September 7 this season, with the 4A Panthers taking the game into the fourth quarter. Quitman finished the season 13-2 including a trip to South State in the 4A playoffs.
In what could be a preview of the 2013 State Championship, Meridian will take on South Panola in week three of the season. The Tigers finished 13-2 last year and are the defending 6A champions. South Panola will be without departing Clarion Ledger Dandy Dozen members Antonio Conner and Deon Mix. However, the Tigers look to bring back a loaded team, featuring sophomore running back Darrell Henderson. The soon to be junior rushed for 100 or more yards in his last six games, including 208 yards and two touchdowns in the championship game against Brandon. The location of the game has yet to be determined.
The Wildcat's final non-conference meeting will be a home contest against Clinton in Week 4.
The Arrows finished 7-6 in 2012 and finished second in Region 2-6A. The two teams last met in the first week of the season this year, with the Wildcats pulling out a 27-6 win at home. The Arrows will look to replace senior quarterback Cale Luke, who led Clinton in both passing and rushing in 2012.
While the locations of the Northwest Rankin and South Panola games have yet to be determined, Meridian will play one of the two games at home and the other on the road.
Quitman non-conference Schedule
Laurel (home), Meridian (home), Wayne County (away), Open, Taylorsville (home), Bay Springs (away).
Northeast Lauderdale non-conference schedule
Jackson Academy (away), West Lauderdale (away), Southeast Lauderdale (away), Neshoba Central (home), open, Forrest (home).
West Lauderdale non-conference schedule
Greene County (away), Neshoba Central (away), Choctaw Central (away), Northeast Lauderdale (home), Southeast Lauderdale (home), Newton County (home).
Southeast Lauderdale non-conference schedule
Newton, Newton County, Northeast Lauderdale, Clarkdale, Northeast Jones, West Lauderdale.
Clarkdale non-conference schedule
Sebastopol (away), Nanih Waiya (home), Russell Christian Academy (home), Southeast Lauderdale (away), Richton (home), St. Andrews (away).
Enterpise did not have a finalized non-conference schedule at the time of publication.