A WORK IN PROGRESS

in Football

In home opener this Friday against Malakoff Cross Roads, Class 2A, Division II’s Meridian Yellowjackets hope to rebound from road loss to Itasca

ITASCA – On the road to recovery, the Class 2A, Division II Meridian Yellowjackets began working toward restoring their once proud football program to a place of prominence as the 2022 Texas high school football season turned on the Friday night lights.

But traveling to Itasca proved to be a tough way to open the season last Friday night when the Wampus Cats handed the Jackets a convincing 58-0 loss as Meridian’s new head coach Jim Kerbow returned to the school he had served the previous three seasons.

“We do not believe that we played to our potential,” Kerbow said. “We made a lot of mistakes that we had not made in the previous two scrimmages.”

While the Jackets (0-1) showed a few promising flashes, Meridian had a hard time moving the ball against an aggressive Wampus Cat defense. In the meantime, the Itasca offensive unit – led by quarterback Buddy Jackson – moved the ball at will, capitalizing on turnovers and rolling up a commanding 36-0 lead by halftime.

“Offensively, we were fundamentally unsound with our technique at multiple positions, which allowed the defense to be overly aggressive,” Kerbow said. “Also, we turned the ball over six times, which cost us.”

Despite battling from compromising field position throughout the game due to the turnovers, the Jacket defense looked solid at times. But gave up some big plays on the ground and through the air continued to pile up on the scoreboard.

“Much like the offense, we were defensively unsound fundamentally, especially in the secondary,” Kerbow said. “We will have to clean those issues up in practice.”

After putting one game in the books, Kerbow and his coaching staff will consider the Itasca game a lesson learned and focus on areas for improvement. And with a new coach installing a new system, there’s always an adjustment period for the players.

“An area where we were pleased with is that we had several young men who fought for four quarters, which shows great leadership,” Kerbow said. “We have several areas that need improvement, such as reading our keys and tackling. “Offensively, we will have to focus on the fundamentals of blocking with every position.”

This week, Meridian hosts the Malakoff Cross Roads Bobcats (1-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Jacket Stadium. After playing an outlaw schedule the last two seasons before rejoining the UIL in 2022, Cross Plains was picked by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine to finish last in District 7-2A, DI behind the pre-season favorite and 15th-ranked Italy Gladiators. But the Bobcats opened the season with an impressive 54-18 victory over All Saints Episcopal on the road last Friday.

“I feel that Cross Roads has made great strides in their football program the past two years,” Kerbow said. “I feel like they are a sounder football team than Itasca. However, we won’t see as much team speed this week against Cross Roads.”

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

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