WC, Meridian poised for showdown|[9/23/05]

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 23, 2005

Two teams seeking momentum heading into next week’s region openers collide tonight at Viking Field when Meridian visits Warren Central.

Meridian came into the season regarded as one of the state’s best teams after finishing 9-2-1 and making it to the second round of the Class 5A playoffs.

Coach Ed Stanley’s Wildcats, however, stumbled out of the gate, losing their first two games to Madison Central (14-7) and Starkville (17-14).

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Meridian righted things last Saturday, ripping Laurel 30-0 behind Cordera Eason’s 127 yards rushing and two touchdowns.

Warren Central, meanwhile, suffered a staggering 31-0 defeat at South Pike after opening the season with two wins.

The Vikings, who have struggled offensively the last two weeks, may face an even bigger challenge, according to WC coach Curtis Brewer.

“Meridian is big on defense and has a big offensive line. The way they’re listed, we may be outmanned by at least 40 pounds,” Brewer said. “They have one of the best teams in the state, talent-wise.”

Following their opening two defeats, Stanley made some adjustments on both sides of the ball, most notably on defense.

“We adjusted our defensive front, and we think it is going to strengthen up our defense a lot,” Stanley said. “We had been getting hurt in the previous two games off tackle. We’ve gone back to using the front from last year, which was so good against the run.”

At Laurel, the move worked as the revised 4-3 Meridian defense allowed just 139 yards in total offense. In the week one loss to Madison Central, Meridian gave up 218 yards rushing.

For WC, that could mean more trouble. The Vikings had just 136 yards in total offense at Grenada. They had better numbers at South Pike with 251 in offense, but had no points to show for it.

“We have to try and establish something on offense, and that means scoring once we get into the red zone,” Brewer said. “We had opportunities at South Pike, but the strip and then other fumble that was run back for a touchdown hurt us. At 12-0, we’re still in it, but at 18-0, it was tough. We’ve just got to put it behind us.”

WC quarterback Ryan Williams (15-of-38, 203 yards) said the Vikings offense got a lift from their receivers in the second half at South Pike.

“They really did step up,” Williams said. “We’re looking forward to being back at home where we can score some points.”

Cornell Miles and Tiger Robinson combined for six catches and 86 yards at South Pike. Robinson and Chris Lacey each have five catches on the year for 145 yards.

The Viking running game, however, will again likely be without leading rusher Carleton Davis (120 yards), who is ill.

Also out will be the team’s top defensive player, Chico Hunter, who had knee surgery on Monday. He’ll be out two to three weeks.

“Chico had some correction done and he’s doing some rehab But not having him has changed the complexion of our defense,” Brewer said.