40 in 30: Meridian Wildcats

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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - To open the 2017 season, the Meridian Wildcats lost three of their first four contests. However, by the end of the season the Wildcats had pulled a 180, stringing together five wins before ultimately losing in the 6A South State Championship to Pearl.

Third year coach, Calvin Hampton, says his team needs to eliminate penalties as well as better execution to avoid those early loses. Senior defensive end and Auburn commit, Jamond Gordon, also feels his team can capitalize on last season’s late success.

“We’re just going to take the momentum of what we had at the end of last year, we’re going to push on at the beginning of this one and just try to fight on with that,” Gordon said. “And we don’t want that feeling again, to start the losing season so, we’re going to come out victorious and stay victorious ‘til we bring the Gold Ball back.”

This season, players and coaches alike say the team is closer than a season ago and players have had three years under the current coaching regime to understand what is expected of them.

“We got depth and I think everybody pretty much knows what we, what the coaches expect,” Gordon said. “And what we got to do, you know, to get the job done.”

Similarly, Coach Hampton has been able to see how his players, and the program culture, has evolved since he took over as head coach.

“You can see a big difference in a Meridian High Football player.” Hampton said. “You know, there’s a different way in how they walk and how they talk and how they act, the pride they have. The pride they have in the school and what we’re about, you can tell a Meridian High Wildcat Football Player.”

Expectations for this team include an equally physical offense and defense, led by the 24 seniors on the roster that boasts a mix of under and upperclassman. For many, they say it’s ‘Championship or bust.’

“Football has just been the blood of the city for so long, it’s hard, it’s hard for football not to be King,” Hampton said.

Meridian opens the season August 17th against Tupelo.