ELUSIVE WIN COLUMN

in Football

Homecoming crowd disappointed as Class 2A, DII Meridian Jackets stung by Bartlett, DI Valley Mills edged by DeLeon

MERIDIAN – Coming off a close two-point loss to Malakoff Cross Roads, the Class 2A, Division II Meridian Yellow Jackets were fighting an uphill battle most of the night against Bartlett as the Bulldogs bullied their way to a convincing 47-6 victory Friday night at Jacket Stadium.

“Overall, we don’t feel that we played to our potential,” Meridian head coach Jim Kerbow said. “I feel that after watching the film, we took some steps back from how we played the week before.”

Deploying a physical, attack defense, the Bulldogs (2-0) kept Meridian (0-3) out of the endzone most of the night. Being held to only 119 yards of total offense, the Jackets never established a consistent attack.

Senior Dustan Bowers led Meridian with 56 hard-earned rushing yards on 22 carries, while junior John Wyatt cashed in on the Jackets’ only touchdown with a one-yard run. Accounting for all off the Meridian passing yardage, senior Junior Rodriguez hauled in three passes for 40 yards from sophomore quarterback Matty Jones.

“Offensively, we had some trouble with the aggressiveness of Bartlett’s defense,” Kerbow said. “We also had several penalties and errors that stalled out multiple drives.”

With Bartlett putting 47 points on the scoreboard, the Bulldogs created matchup problems for the Jackets all night. Bartlett opened the season with a 34-16 road victory over Frost before seeing their home opener against Axtell cancelled due to inclement weather. But the Bulldogs pick it up without missing a beat against Meridian.

“Defensively, we did not tackle well,” Kerbow said. “We had trouble with the athleticism of the Bartlett offense.”

Junior Noah Alvizo led the Jackets with 12 and a fumble recovery, followed by Rodriguez and Wyatt with nine tackles each, as well as senior Brady Taylor with eight takedowns.

“I believe speed and athleticism proved to be the difference in the game,” Kerbow said.

After back-to-back home games, the Jackets will hit the road this week to visit the Milano Eagles (2-0) at 7 p.m. Friday. Opening the season with a dominating 41-7 victory over Waco Reicher Catholic Aug. 26, the Eagles duplicated that result with a 41-7 win over Central Texas Christian Friday night.

Coming into the season, Milano was picked to challenge for a playoff berth in District 13-2A, DII behind ninth-ranked Chilton and 13th-ranked Bremond.

“Milano has improved tremendously from last year,” Kerbow said. “They are big and physical up front on both sides of the ball. We will have to match their physicality if we want to come out on top this week.”

DELEON 38, VALLEY MILLS 36

Despite building a 30-16 early in the third quarter, the Class 2A, DI Valley Mills Eagles could not hold off a fierce DeLeon rally as the Bearcats came-from-behind for a thrilling 38-36 victory at home last Friday night.

After junior Cason Johnson broke off a 17-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter to give Valley Mills (0-3) at 30-16 lead, DeLeon (2-1) responded with 22 unanswered points to claw their way to a 38-30 advantage. The Eagles came back late, though, as Johnson connected with senior Brady Whitlock for a 22-yard scoring strike. But Valley Mills came up short in an attempt to tie the game with a two-point conversion.

Johnson completed 18 of 29 passes for 215 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 82 yards and another score. Senior Pecos Dutschmann led Eagles receivers with six catches for 99 yards and a score while Whitlock finished with six receptions for 80 yards. Senior Joe Taylor paced the Valley Mills ground game with 95 yards and a touchdown.

But the Eagle defense struggled to slow down DeLeon’s rushing attack as the Bearcats piled up 329 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. Junior Will McDonald led Valley Mills with 25 tackles, followed by Johnson with 14, and sophomore Joshua McKain with 12.

Photos by WENDY OROZCO

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