REVERSAL OF FORTUNES

in Football

In winning their second straight game, the Meridian Yellowjackets put 13-game losing streak firmly in the rear view mirror

MERIDIAN — Proving their first win since the 2018 season wasn’t a fluke, the Meridian Yellowjackets made it two in a row by surviving a defensive struggle laced with adversity to blank the Bartlett Bulldogs, 7-0, on Homecoming Night last Friday at Jacket Stadium.

Jacket senior quarterback Dylan Poole connected with wide open sophomore receiver Brady Taylor for a 25-yard scoring strike with 5:16 left in the first quarter, and that proved to be all the points Meridian (2-1) needed to provide the hometown crowd more than one reason to celebrate.

“The win just shows that our kids want to get better and continue to have a mindset of getting better each and every day,” Meridian football second-year head coach Wade Morton said. “Our defense has been the strength of our team for sure the past three weeks. It’s so important to line up correctly and to play fundamental. We will continue to get better on both sides of the ball.”

Just a week after snapping a 13-game losing streak dating back to Oct. 26, 2018, the Jackets established a winning streak thanks to their second consecutive defensive shutout.

But this win against Bartlett (1-2) did not come easy. After Meridian scored early, the Jacket defense took away the Bulldogs’ only serious scoring threat of the first half on an interception by freshman defensive back Brayden Wehmeyer. Then late in the fourth quarter, Meridian ended Bartlett’s last possession as sophomore Gage Edwards stripped the ball and freshman Noah Alvizo recovered the fumble.

In a dominating performance, the Jacket defense limited Bartlett to only 79 total yards of offense, shutting down the running game with 64 yards on 32 carries. Senior linebacker Anthony Gonzalez and senior defensive end Teagan Smith led the Jackets with 11 tackles, sophomore Michael Crawford and Edwards collected 10 takedowns apiece, while Taylor added seven tackles and senior Victor Orozco contributed six

After scoring early, it appeared as if the Jacket offense would be able to move the ball like it did the previous week again Frost. But then adversity set in as Poole went down with an injury, the second team quarterback left the game, and an offensive lineman went out with an unsportsmanship ejection.

As a result, the offensive attack stalled, finishing with 178 total yards. Poole completed five of six passes for 63 yards and rushed for 25 more before getting injured in the second quarter. Gonzales led the Jackets in rushing with 78 yards on 21 carries and caught two passes for 21.

“Adversity is just part of the game, as many know,” Morton said. “We need leaders on both sides of the ball to realize that leading doesn’t look like swag, ego or attention, but being together as a team, going in the same direction towards the same goal.”

With a two-game win streak and a winning record, the Jackets appear to be heading in the right direction. And despite the adversity, Meridian figured out a way to win again, even if it turned out to be the hard way.

“Doing the right thing and holding each other accountable isn’t easy,” Morton said. “If it was, then everything would be easy. We’re not going to make easy unaccountable choices. We’re going to do things right.

“We showed we can have adversity and overcome while coming out on top. That’s huge for our program and the younger Yellowjackets that see it.”

Photos by WENDY OROZCO

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