Meridian High School coach Larry Weems isn't picky.
He doesn't care if the Wildcats sling the ball all over the field or grind out yards rushing. His only concern is that MHS' offense succeeds in moving the ball and scoring. So one week after throwing for 200 yards in a half, the Wildcats rushed fore more than 300 yards in starting 2-0. That leads to a “pick your poison” choice for opponents, beginning with Canton at 7:30 p.m. today at Ray Stadium: try to stop the pass or the run?
“It's great because we needed it,” Weems said about Meridian's strong ground attack at Wayne County last week. “We needed to be able to move the ball and we weren't as sharp throwing the ball as we hoped we'd be, so I'm glad we were able to run the ball.”
And run the ball the Wildcats, ranked No. 2 overall in the state's Associated Press poll and No. 3 in the MPB Top 25, did. Richard L. McQuarley and Austin Holt each topped 100 yards and a touchdown as MHS pulled away from the War Eagles.
In addition to giving the Wildcats their fourth straight win against Wayne, the strong ground game showed the depth of MHS' ground attack. McQuarley, a junior, leads Merdiain with 201 yards rushing and two TDs on 33 carries. Holt, also a junior, has 192 yards and one score on 30 carries. And rounding out the triple-headed backfield monster, sophomore quarterback J-Mar Smith has 129 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. In all, the Wildcats have churned out 554 yards in the first two games. Smith has added 254 yards passing and three touchdowns to one interception on 22 of 31 passing.
“I think the kids that we have back there all have the ability to run,” Weems said. “That allows us to keep a fresh guy back there, a rested guy that can make big plays.”
Those big plays could come in handy tonight when the Tigers visit. In opening 2-0 for the second straight season, Canton has outscored Wingfield and Velma Jackson 88-6. But with the two blowout wins, Weems said it is difficult to get a glimpse of just how Meridian and Canton matches up. Still, his main concern is MHS.
“We still are just worried about us,” he said. “If we play like we should, we will be fine. And all you can worry about is the kids you have and teaching them what you want them to do. And if they do that and follow the gameplan, you will have a good chance to be successful on Friday nights.”
While Meridian has been successful on Fridays so far this season, Weems stressed that the Wildcats have a long way to go to live up to those lofty state rankings and the program's annual goal of a championship.
“On both sides of the ball, we have times where our execution isn't sharp,” he said. “We have a lot of new faces in a lot of places and that's going to take some time, so we have a long way to go and a lot of work to do to becomes what I think is a good football team and can compete for a championship.
“I'm not saying we won't get there, just that right now we have a lot of work to do.”
Meridian High School coach Larry Weems isn't picky.
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