The Meridian High School football team has finished 40th nationally for the 2008 season. The announcement was made by MaxPreps, a California-based company that ranks more than 15,000 high school varsity football teams.
Meridian defeated South Panola of Batesville, 26-20, in overtime to finish the season at 14-1 and capture the Mississippi 5A state championship. Meridian is one of 30 high schools nationwide being honored on the fourth season of the MaxPreps Tour of Champions presented by the Army National Guard.
"The MaxPreps Tour of Champions presented by the Army National Guard salutes a group of very talented young athletes across the country, who along with their coaches and families, are committed to being the very best they can be." said Andy Beal, MaxPrep's president. "We're happy to be a part of that dedication."
"Any honor that your players, coaches, staff and school receives is always a positive thing," said Larry Weems, who completed his third year as Meridian's head coach. "Any time the kids achieve at a high level and folks recognize them is a good thing."
Senior quarterback Tyler Russell passed for 3,284 yards and 40 touchdowns and ran for 355 yards and eight more scores. His favorite targets were Chris Smith (70 receptions for 1,076 yards and 10 TDs) and Marcus McQuarley (43 for 1,016 and 20 TDs). Quarderal Martin was the team's leading rusher with 868 yards and 14 TDs.
Linebacker Michael Pack led the Wildcats' defense with 142 tackles. He also had two quarterback sacks, a pair of pass interceptions, recovered a fumble and blocked a kick. End Jacob Eason contributed 105 tackles, 15 QB sacks, recovered three fumbles, blocked a kick and scored a touchdown.
Mississippi Army National Guard Sergeant First Class Phillip Mosely presented Coach Weems and the team the national ranking trophy at pep rally Wednesday morning.
"The Army National Guard honors the players and coaches of Meridian High School because they are champions. And like National Guard Soldiers, they stand united as champions of their community," said Major Michael Baptista, National Guard Bureau. "That is why we are proud to be a partner of the Tour of Champions. The Guard applauds and congratulates them, champion to champion."
MaxPreps uses a sophisticated computer program to determine team rank. The system utilizes the huge number of game results stored in the MaxPreps database. Generally, the more a team wins the higher the ranking, but the system takes into account quality wins (against other highly ranked opponents), margin of victory, and strength of schedule.
MaxPreps, Inc. is the leading aggregator of high school sports content, including video, text and photos, covering over 20,000 schools and nearly five million student athletes. MaxPreps, Inc. is dedicated to publishing America's most comprehensive high school sports information web site. MaxPreps.com features stats, stories, and photos featuring high school student-athletes and the outstanding men and women who coach them. MaxPreps is owned by the CBS Corporation and is a part of the CBS Interactive division. With more than 150 million people visiting its properties each month, CBS Interactive is a Top 10 web property globally. For more information, click here.
About Army National Guard
The Army National Guard is an elite group of warriors who dedicate a portion of their time to serving their nation, state and local community. It is a tradition of American service dating back to 1636. Guard members have a long and noble history of serving at home and abroad to ensure the safety and freedom of their fellow citizens. They have combated natural disasters, supported active duty troops, and when called upon, taken up arms against our nation's enemies. The Army National Guard has more than 3200 units located in more than 2700 communities across 54 states and territories. For more information, click here.