Hancock makes long trip to Meridian
By By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
Oct. 11, 2002
Hancock High School makes one of the longest trips in its history tonight when the Hawks take a four-hour ride to visit Meridian High at Ray Stadium. Kickoff for the Region 2-5A contest is set for 7:30 p.m.
Both teams are seeking their first win in region play after 0-2 starts. Meridian has been beaten by the league's two highly ranked teams in Wayne County (13-5) and last week's 24-0 loss at Brandon.
Hancock is also 0-2 after giving No. 1 ranked Wayne County fits before falling 21-15. The Hawks were blanked 21-0 by Petal in week five. Earlier in the season, Hancock played three consecutive one-point games, winning two of the three. It will bring a 3-3 overall record to Meridian.
The Hawks' road struggles could be a good sign for the Wildcats who need some good news after a 1-5 start. Coach Ed Stanley's team is coming off its poorest game of the season at Brandon. Before last week, Meridian had been a tough road team winning at Tupelo (17-3) and nearly beating Laurel (27-26).
"We had been playing well on the road, but for some reason, we didn't play well at all at Brandon," Stanley said. "But we will be motivated to play well tomorrow."
Last year, Hancock beat Meridian 17-0 in Kiln. Hawk head coach Ricky Gaudin called it one of the biggest wins in the school's history.
"This ranks up there with some of the biggest victories in school history. I have been here for a lot of things, but to beat a team with the history and prestige of Meridian is something special," Gaudin told the Picayune Item afterwards.
This year, he is hoping for another complete game.
"We have not played four quarters in a game this year," Gaudin said in the EMG Prep Journal this week. "It would be nice to see what would happen if we do."
Hancock is an ususual team in that they line up in a power set but actually prefer to pass the ball. Quarterback Brandon Necaise was 13-of-23 for 205 yards. Receiver David Brown is a play-maker having caught four passes for 110 yards including a 74-yard TD toss from Necaise.
The Hawks also feature a tough tailback in 182-pound Ervin Jackson who had a big game against Meridian last year.
"Hancock has a big, strong, physical team," Stanley said. "The fullback (Ricky Underwood) tailback, and wingback are all good. They run a power-Wing-T, but they throw out of it. They had over 200 yards against Wayne County."
The Hawks have three offensive linemen over 250 pounds led by center Scott Nesom (263) and tackle Nick Hume (260).
The Hawks' defense is led by Underwood, a 232-pounder, and Jerrod Barrola at linebacker. Donald Haines (233) is a pass-rushing tackle.
Meridian will counter with an offense led by junior quarterback Ken Mitts. Mitts has completed 48-of-113 passes for 610 yards and three touchdowns.
The top receivers are Keith Ivy, who caught six passes last week. D.J. Loyd has over 200 yards receiving while Courtney Lynch had an 80-yard TD catch against Louisville.
The Wildcat defense is paced by linebacker Lamarace Tucker and end Ryan Kimbrough.