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Wildcats take on winless Natchez

By By Jeff Byrd / staff writer
Oct. 18, 2002
The Natchez Bulldogs might be just what the doctor ordered for the Meridian High Wildcats. Then again, the way the Wildcats have struggled, no one can be taken for granted, not even an 0-7 Natchez club.
Meridian heads to Natchez Friday in search of its second win of the season. The Wildcats are 1-6 with the one win coming between a pair of three-game skids which includes last week's 21-11 loss to Hancock at Ray Stadium.
The Wildcats have played relatively well on the road. They beat then-Top 10 ranked Tupelo 17-3 in Tupelo. They also played Laurel to a one-point loss at 27-26.
Both teams are 0-3 in Region 2-5A and both have struggled to put points on the board. Meridian has scored 76 points for an 11-point per game average. Natchez has 70 for right at 10 points a game.
The difference is on defense. Meridian has played two of the state's best 7-0 teams in Starkville and Wayne County and held them to 13 points on each occassion.
Natchez has been terrible on defense allowing a whopping 269 points, or 38 points a game. Meridian won last year's game at Ray Stadium, 37-0.
Natchez head coach James Denson explained last week what gives his team trouble.
Meridian has showed it can throw the ball, as evidenced by last week's late fourth-quarter drive where Ken Mitts led the team on a 65-yard scoring drive. For the season, Mitts is 54-of-124 for 681 yards and three touchdowns.
D.J. Loyd and Keith Ivy are emerging as go-to receivers. Loyd had a pair of catches for 35 yards last week to give him over 200 yards receiving this season. Ivy has made 12 receptions for 105 yards. Courtney Lynch is also improving each week.
The Wildcat offensive line has had its problems in short-yardage situations, but overall, the unit is improving as well.
Natchez does have a potentially good offense led by quarterback Leon Stewart. The unit scored 19 points against Wayne County.
Denson said his team has had problems running the ball.