Cats look for first win against Laurel
By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
Sept. 12, 2003
The Meridian High School football team has been so close to a victory in 2003 that head coach Ed Stanley can almost taste it.
The Wildcats (0-2) have lost their first two games to Clinton and Starkville by seven and six points, respectively.
"We're close," said Stanley, whose team takes on Laurel at 7:30 p.m. today at Ray Stadium. "We've reached the point where we can compete with the 5A teams. Now we have to take another step and get to where we can get a win over the good 5A teams."
Meridian proved that it can take complete control of a game at times in its loss to Starkville last week.
Trailing 7-0 in the second quarter, the Wildcats stalled the Yellow Jackets offense on the Meridian High 29-yard line.
Starkville High missed a 45-yard field goal attempt giving the ball back to Meridian on the Wildcats' 20.
Meridian pounded the ball 80-yards down, with a three-downs-and-a-cloud-dust offense, for a touchdown to pull within 7-6 of the lead. The point-after attempt was blocked.
The Wildcats held the ball just eight seconds shy of 10 minutes in the 12-minute second quarter during the drive.
"That was a sign that we are becoming a much more physical football team," Stanley said. "We can line up and go toe-to-toe with a team like Starkville, which isn't that far removed from a state title. That drive was a major step for our program."
The Wildcats' hard-nosed offensive style will be put to the test against the Tornadoes in the third contest of the year.
Laurel fields an impressive front line on defense, led by junior defensive tackle Rapheal Lindsey.
"They are very quick at the defensive end positions," Stanley said. "They have one of the best defensive tackles in the state."
Fueled by the memory of the squad's nine minute and 52 second drive in the second quarter against Starkville, Stanley said the Wildcats have the ability to find a way through the Tornadoes front line.
"We think we have found an identity of what we are going to do," Stanley said. "We just have to keep on keeping on. If we can find a little pot hole here and there and slip by a few cracks, we can make some things happen."
Meridian High's defense will also be challenged by an explosive group of skilled players from Laurel.
Stanley said the Wildcats will have to prepare for Roger Mack, Demorius Jones, Jeffery Moore, Corneilus Veasley and Demond Morrow on the defensive side of the ball.
"They have five skilled people that are real good,," Stanley said. "They can run the ball, catch the ball and run after they catch it."
Meridian High has found its identity, now it just needs to find away to put points on the scoreboard.
"Hopefully, we will be able to put some more points on the scoreboard," said Stanley, whose team has scored 13 points in the first two games of the year.