Despite last week’s Covid-19 road block, the upstart Meridian Yellowjackets travel to Hico seeking to clinch their first postseason berth since 2017
HICO — Coming off their most lopsided victory since 2007, the Meridian Yellowjackets were buzzing with excitement heading into the home stretch of the District 8-2A, Division II race to earn postseason berths. But then Covid-19 reached up and grabbed them from behind.
Hoping to take another step toward securing a playoff spot last week, the Jackets (1-1 in district, 3-3 overall) were forced to postpone a homefield showdown with the district co-leading Cross Plains Buffaloes (2-0, 6-1) when a Meridian football player tested positive for Covid-19.
“We are still waiting on a decision on if or when we can make up our game against Cross Plains,” Meridian football second-year head coach Wade Morton said. “But we were able to practice Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.”
So, the Jackets were forced to put that game and the uncertainty surrounding it aside and focus on the next team up, a road trip to take on the neighboring Hico Tigers, who moved down from Class 2A, DI this season. Looking to clinch a playoff spot with a win, the Jackets will take on Hico at 7 p.m. Thursday as the Tigers (0-3, 1-7) will be looking for their first district win since 2018.
“The kids are excited about our game with Hico and ready to go,” Morton said. “We’re going to do what we do. Each team has had their struggles the past two years. But it’s Hico versus Meridian and only 15 minutes separate us, so it’s going to be a fun night.”
Riding a seven-game losing streak after winning its season opener, Hico has certainly experienced its share of difficulties this season. Coming off last season’s 0-10 campaign, the Tigers snapped a 12-game skid by knocking off Texas Wind, 33-6, before dropping the next seven straight by a combined score of 274-35. Most recently, the Santo Wildcats dominated Hico, 40-7, in a district clash last Friday night.
In the meantime, the Jackets shook off a district-opening loss to seventh-ranked Albany to overwhelm the Ranger Bulldogs, 62-0, Oct. 9 to post their first road win since Oct. 13, 2017.
Delivering another dominating defensive performance, the Jackets notched its third shutout of the season by throwing the Bulldogs for losses on 13 negative yardage plays. And thanks to the punishing defensive effort, the Jacket offensive went to work on a short field most of the game, scoring quickly and often.
“We played great defense, but we’ve been playing great defense all year,” Morton said. “The defense is the best thing about our team at the moment. Our coaches do a great job, and the kids do a great job being coachable.”
Offensively, the Jackets scored the most points in a game since 2016, and put up more points in one game than Meridian had totaled in the previous five games combined. With Meridian’s best offensive effort of the season while piling up 456 yards of total offense, the Jackets put themselves in a good position to make a run at Meridian’s first postseason berth since 2017.
” We’re very proud of our guys,” Morton said. “We’ve told them from the beginning that the scoreboard will never define them, and that how they act and play will. So that is what we’re focused on. All our games are big games, so we’re comfortable being uncomfortable.”
Photos by WENDY OROZCO
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