Prep football: Bulldogs ready for No. 1

Published 12:01am Friday, September 21, 2012

NATCHEZ — It’s the kind of game the players get hyped up about — the chance to take on a top opponent.

When Natchez High School hosts Meridian High School, players like senior safety Kris Weatherspoon will be looking to pull off a major upset.

Meridian enters tonight’s contest ranked No. 1 in Class 6A and No. 1 overall in the state in the Associated Press Mississippi Prep Football Polls. Before rankings came out, though, Weatherspoon said the Meridian game was one the team looked forward to.

“We feel like we can win, that we’re more than capable of winning,” Weatherspoon said. “We’re looking forward to it. It should be a good game.”

NHS head coach Lance Reed said Meridian (4-0) has historically been good, and this year is no exception.

“They’re well-coached, and they have a sense of history where football is very important to them,” Reed said. “They just keep it going every year.”

And a big reason Meridian is so good this year is its defense, Reed said.

“They play aggressive, and they’re fast to the ball,” Reed said. “They’re good at the fundamentals. They tackle well. They play very good defense.”

The offense is nothing to scoff at, either, as Meridian is averaging approximately 31 points per game.

“Offensively, they take what you give them,” Reed said. “They have a young quarterback in J-mar Smith that they center it around, and he has a lot of talent around him. They have a lot of good, athletic players.”

The Bulldogs (3-1) are coming off a bye week, and Reed said he stressed competiveness all throughout practice last week.

“We practiced competitiveness between the offense and defense,” Reed said. “We worked on a lot of the fundamental things, but we felt like we needed to get better (at being competitive). I felt like we had a good week.”

Reed said he feels like that week has made a big difference with his players.

“One question we had about this team is the sense of competitiveness,” Reed said. “We wanted to give them chances to improve their competitiveness, so we put them in situations that they’ll see (tonight).”

Weatherspoon said he understands the importance of competitiveness, especially for a team that hopes to make noise in the postseason.

“Making it to Jackson in December for the championship (is our goal),” Weatherspoon said. “Competition brings out the best in everyone. I think everyone’s bought in and worked really hard this bye week on our mistakes.”

Even with having a week off before a big game, Reed said it’s not a given that it will help his team to have a break.

“In the past, we’ve always had an off week and had to go play Meridian,” Reed said. “A couple of years we felt like it was good, and a couple of times we had to second-guess that. Hopefully this one was good.”

Kickoff is at 7:30 tonight at Natchez High School.