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No. 1 Brandon next for Meridian

By By Jeff Byrd/The Meridian Star
OCT. 4, 2001
The run of state ranked opponents for the Meridian Wildcats comes to an end on Friday. But this week's guest at Ray Stadium may be the best of the five ranked teams the Wildcats will play this season.
That's because it's No. 1 ranked Brandon, led by arguably the state's best player in running back Jerious Norwood. Kickoff for the Region 2-5A contest is set for 7:30 p.m. at Ray Stadium.
Meridian Head Coach Bill Sartin doesn't mince words when he calls Norwood the "best running back I've seen in high school football."
Norwood is closing in on the state career touchdown record. He currently has 74. Last week in a 38-12 rout of Natchez, he ran for 210 yards. For the season, he has run for 948 yards in leading Brandon to a spotless 5-0 record.
Meridian, despite its 1-4 record, comes into the Brandon game on an upswing. Sartin was quite pleased with the effort given in last week's 14-3 loss at No. 9 Wayne County. The loss was the Wildcats' first in region play.
Meridian's defense held Wayne County to just 142 yards in total offense. The War Eagles had been averaging nearly 200 yards per game rushing coming into the Meridian game.
Senior linemen Demetric Dunn (283) is one of the Wildcats who is now going both ways. Tight end Torry Bates, junior guard Brennan Vaughn and senior defensive back Greg Harris also joined in pulling double duty.
Meridian beat Brandon 14-13 last year in a stunning upset. The Wildcats were the only team to hold Norwood to under 100 yards last year.
Brandon's defense is big and sound. They were without three starters last week at Natchez due to an outbreak of pink-eye. All three players are expected to be ready for the Meridian game.
Meridian's offense is paced by wingback Cardae Campbell and tailback tailback Fred Patton. Patton had his best game of the season rushing for 72 yards against Wayne County. He now has 223 yards for the season. Campbell went over the 300-yard mark and has scored two touchdowns.
Sophomore Ken Mitts continues to lead the offense. He had 48 yards passing last week. Pierre Henderson is the top receiver.
Jeff Byrd is a sports writer for the Meridian Star. He can be reached at 693-1551 or by e-mail at j.byrd@themeridian