No playoff hopes for MHS Wildcats
By By Jeff Byrd/The Meridian Star
Nov. 8, 2001
For only the fifth time since the Mississippi High School Activities Association instituted football playoffs, the Meridian High Wildcats will be staying home.
The Wildcats were eliminated from 5A playoff consideration following last week's 27-13 loss to Oak Grove. Meridian, 3-7, will close out its season on Friday at Ray Stadium when they host the Hattiesburg Tigers.
For fourth-year head coach Bill Sartin, the time is near at hand to start building for next year.
Before then, will be the season-ender with Hattiesburg. The Tigers are 4-6 and need a win in order to make the playoffs themselves.
Hattiesburg is battling Oak Grove and Hancock for the final two spots from Region 2-5A. The Tigers get in with a win because they own a region victory over Oak Grove.
The Tigers are one of the region's top scoring teams averaging 29.9 points per game. But they also own the league's worst defense having allowed 32.1 points per game.
The Wildcats had problems stopping a potent Oak Grove passing attack last week. But it was the Cats' own inability to generate a passing offense that proved equally costly.
Instead, the Wildcats were limited to just 13 points and fell for the fourth time in Region 2-5A play.
For Meridian, making the playoffs is common-place. They have qualified 16 times in 21 years to rank third among all high school football programs in the state.
Sartin hopes his 12 seniors will take a measure of pride and close out their careers with a win over Hattiesburg.
Meridian should get a lift from its offensive line. Demetrick Dunn and Perry McNeil will return to the starting line-up this week. Both have been out with either injuries or illness. Freshman Bryan Leggett will also see some time on the line this week.
Fullback Fred Patton leads the Wildcat attack. He had 60 yards rushing last week to boost his season total to 655 with seven touchdowns.
Cardae Campbell, the team's leading rusher with 778 yards, was slowed last week with a bad ankle. Sartin was able to play DeAngelo Jones and Greg Harris in his place.
Sophomore quarterback Ken Mitts continues to progress with the offense.
Jeff Byrd is a sports writer for the Meridian Star. He can be reached at 693-1551 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.