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Meridian can return to 5A playoffs with win on Friday

By By Tony Krausz / assistant sports editor
Oct. 28, 2003
At this time last year, Meridian High School was struggling to close out a 3-8 football season.
Fast forward to the final two weeks of the 2003 regular season the Wildcats (5-4 overall, 3-2 Division 3-5A) are one win away from sealing a spot in the playoffs.
Call it a coach's optimism, but head coach Ed Stanley said despite finishing three games under .500 a year ago, he believed his team would be talking about the playoffs this year.
The Wildcats could take third place in the division if they win their last two games against Hancock on Friday and Northwest Rankin on Nov. 7.
Meridian High is guaranteed a playoff berth if it wins one of the next two games, and would finish fourth in the division.
The only way the Wildcats would miss the playoffs is if the team loses both games and Hattiesburg, which Meridian High defeated 31-7 on Sept., wins its last two games. The Wildcats own the tiebreaker against Hattiesburg, if the two teams finish with identical records.
Even though the Wildcats are so close to entering the postseason, the team will not be satisfied with just getting into the playoffs.
Depending on where the Wildcats finish in the division, they will either meet the No. 1 or No. 2 team from 4-5A. The final standings will most likely come down to the last week of the season when the Wildcats meet Northwest Rankin.
The Nov. 7 game could decide which team finishes third in 3-5A, and play the No. 2 team from the 4-5A, and which finishes fourth. Oak Grove and Picayune will also play on the final week of the season, with first and second place in 3-5A at stake.
Meridian High will most likely meet either St. Martin (5-3, 4-1 Division 4-5A, which the Wildcats beat 38-14 on Sept. 19, or Pascagoula (6-3, 4-1 4-5A) in the opening round.
While the playoff picture is far from settled, Stanley said his team is maintaining its focus and looking forward to a run in the postseason.