NO PLACE LIKE HOME

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To the delight of Homecoming crowd, Class 2A, DII Meridian Yellowjacket pound Bartlett Bulldogs for first win of the season; host second straight home game against Milano Friday

Playing for the first time during the 2023 Texas high school football season at Jacket Stadium, the Meridian Yellowjackets could not have scripted a better way to celebrate Homecoming. With senior running back Brayden Wehmeyer scoring three times, the Jackets used a complete team effort to pound the Bartlett Bulldogs, 47-26, last Friday night.

Capitalizing on a game-opening fumble recovery by sophomore Jesse Scott, Meridian (1-2) scored early and often. Rolling to their first win of the season in convincing fashion in front of an enthusiastic Homecoming crowd, the Jackets jumped out to a commanding 26-6 lead at halftime and never looked back.

“We knew going into Friday’s game we had a great chance to win if we minimized our mistakes offensively, if we were better tacklers, and if we created some turnovers on defense,” Meridian head coach Jim Kerbow said. “On the first play from scrimmage, our defense came up big with a turnover. Our offense immediately executed for a huge gain and put us in scoring position. Three plays later, we punched it in.

“Those plays by both units were a huge swing of momentum and turned the tide in our favor for the remainder of the game. Our coaching staff stresses the importance of starting fast. And Friday night, we started fast and reaped the benefits throughout the ball game.”

Hoping to maintain their winning ways this week, the Jackets (1-2) will play their second straight home game by hosting the Milano Eagles (2-0) at 7 p.m. Friday at Jacket Stadium.

After opening the season with an overwhelming 63-6 victory over Waco Reicher Catholic, the Eagles posted a convincing 27-7 victory over Central Texas Christian last Friday night. Following a playoff appearance in 2022, Milano entered the season as a postseason favorite from District 13-2A, DII by Dave Campbell’s Texas Football behind seventh-ranked Chilton, 16th-ranked Granger and Bremond.

“Milano is big and physical,” Kerbow said. “However, they graduated several seniors off their team from last year, so they have some inexperience at some key positions on offense and defense.

“If we can match their physicality on both sides of the ball, execute on offense like week did Friday night and cause some turnovers on defense, we can be successful Friday night.”

Compiling 429 yards of total offense against Bartlett, the Jacket offense took flight against Bartlett, putting the most points on the scoreboard since Meridian knocked off Waco Texas Wind, 47-19 during the 2021 season. Wehmeyer led the way with 106 yards rushing on 19 carries and two touchdowns while catching three passes for 70 yards and another score. Sophomore Isaac Lira added another rushing touchdown.

Junior quarterback Matty Jones completed seven of 12 passes for 214 yards and three scoring strikes while adding another 89 yards rushing. Jones connected with Scott for a 67-yard touchdown pass, hit junior Ian Gomez on a 41-yard scoring strike, and found Wehmeyer on a 12-yard touchdown toss. Gomez finished with two catches for a team-high 73 yards.

“Offensively, we get better every week,” Kerbow said. “Matthew Jones had a great night throwing the ball, and Brayden Wehmeyer had a great night rushing. Our offensive line continued to execute at a high level, opening up running lanes and protecting the quarterback to allow our offense to move the ball up and down the field.”

Producing their best defensive effort of the young season, the Jackets came up with two turnovers and scored a defensive touchdown when senior Austin Pogue scooped up a fumble recovery and cruised into the end zone in the second quarter.

Freshman Josh Nunez led Meridian with 11 tackles and two sacks, followed by sophomore Garrett Pope with seven, as well as senior Noah Alvizo and Jones with six each.

“Our defense really set the tone Friday night,” Kerbow said. “On the first play of Bartlett’s opening drive, Jesse Scott strips the ball from the receiver and recovers the caused fumble, which we were able to capitalize on. Austin Pogue came up big with a scoop and score on a Bartlett fumble to put us up by two scores. Our defense, led by Josh Nunez, Garrett Pope and Noah Alvizo, played well all night.”

Photos by WENDY OROZCO

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