EVERSON - Meridian's defense put in overtime this week preparing for Nooksack Valley's passing attack.
Pioneers quarterback Tanner Myhre entered Week 6 with more than 1,100 passing yards. The Trojans' secondary wasn't going to let Myhre's arm beat them.
"You don't even want to know," Meridian coach Bob Ames said when asked how much time the Trojans devoted to Nooksack Valley's spread offense. "They have some of the best athletes around this county."
The extra preparation paid off in a big way.
"We had late practices," Meridian linebacker/running back Junior Castro said. "Oh man, we spent three, three and a half, four hours some days out at practice. We knew we had to be prepared for them."
Cornerback Drake VanderYacht intercepted Myhre twice in the first half, and the Trojans offense piled up yards on the ground en route to a 42-14 Class 1A Northwest Conference win against Nooksack Valley on Friday, Oct. 5, at Sid Lambert Field in Everson.
Meridian (4-2, 2-0 NWC 1A) secondary players Max McGuinn, VanderYacht, Letrez Jones and Relijah McMillan held Myhre to 116 passing yards - 39 of which happened late in the fourth quarter when the game was decided.
McMillan limited Nooksack Valley's big-play threat, Trey Handy, to three catches for 25 yards.
"They have a great spread offense," McGuinn said. "Relijah did a great job on Trey Handy. I really didn't have to do anything."
McGuinn did plenty on the offensive side of the ball. He operated Meridian's offense for four touchdown drives in the first half and finished the game 9 for 16 with 112 yards, two touchdown tosses and a score on the ground.
Meridian's trio of running backs McGuinn calls "earth, wind and fire" took care of the ground attack.
Junior Castro led the ground game with 18 carries for 100 yards, Evan Childs gained 65 yards on 11 rushes and Jones carried the ball 13 times for 90 yards. All three helped the Trojans amass 24 first downs, run clock and keep the ball out of Myhre's hands.
Last week, Nooksack Valley's offense opened the game with two impressive long TD drives against Mount Baker. Meridian's defense quickly set the tone Friday.
The Pioneers' first two possessions resulted in three-and-outs, and the Trojans capitalized.
McGuinn capped off a quick five-play, 52-yard drive with a 1-yard QB sneak to put Meridian on top 7-0.
Following Nooksack Valley's second punt, McGuinn marched the Trojans' offense 78 yards for back-to-back scores. Meridian's senior quarterback connected with fullback Jeremy Brockmann on a short out-route for a 6-yard TD pass that put Meridian on top 14-0 with 10 minutes, 31 seconds left in the second quarter.
Childs scored from three yards out on Meridian's next possession after VanderYacht picked off an errant Myhre pass.
The Nooksack Valley quarterback responded, though, with arguably his most impressive drive of the game. Myhre led Nooksack Valley (3-3, 0-2 NWC 1A) on a 51-yard drive, which ended in a 14-yard Myhre TD run around the left end to cut Meridian lead to 21-6 with 4:07 to go until half.
Then, the "fire" element of McGuinn's three nicknamed running backs burned Nooksack Valley.
On a second-and-9 from the Meridian 45, Jones took the ball around the right end 55 yards for a TD, dealing a crushing blow to the Pioneers, who finally built some momentum.
"They have a great team, and I'm sure we'll probably see them in the playoffs," McGuinn said of the Pioneers.
It just wasn't Nooksack Valley's night.
Jones added his second TD on a 4-yard run up the middle midway through the third, and McGuinn hit McMillan streaking down the left sideline for a 23-yard TD strike to put Meridian up 42-6 with 11:54 left in the fourth.
Myhre threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Curtis Handy with 8:57 to go in the game to make the score line a bit more attractive for the boys from Everson.
Curtis led Nooksack Valley in receiving with three catches for 34 yards. McMillan had three catches for 66 yards to lead the Trojans. Nooksack Valley's first run from a running back came with 10:50 left in the fourth quarter when Levi Schram took an option pitch around the right side for nine yards.
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862.
Meridian 7 21 7 7- 42
Nooksack Valley 0 6 0 8- 14
MER - Max McGuinn 1 run (Casey Bromet kick)
MER - Jeremy Brockmann 6 pass from McGuinn (Bromet kick)
MER - Evan Childs 3 run (Bromet kick)
NV - Tanner Myhre 14 run (kick fail)
MER - Latrez Jones 55 run (Bromet kick)
MER - Jones 4 run (Bromet kick)
MER - Relijah McMillan 23 pass from McGuinn (Bromet kick)
NV - Curtis Handy 6 pass from Myhre (Myhre pass to Handy)
First downs 24 12
Rushing Att-Yards 58-307 12-20
Comp-Att-Int 9-16-2 13-23-3
Passing yards 112 143
Penalties-yards 8-75 2-8
Fumbles-lost 1-0 1-0
RUSHING - Meridian: Junior Castro 18-100, Evan Childs 11-65, Letrez Jones 13-90, Max McGuinn 14-47, Jeremy Brockmann 2-5. Nooksack Valley: Tanner Myhre 9-8, Levi Schram 1-9, Trey Handy 1-3, Bret Rediger 1-0 .
PASSING - Meridian: Max McGuinn 9-16-2-112. Nooksack Valley: Tanner Myhre 11-20-2-116, Bret Rediger 2-3-1-27
RECEIVING - Meridian: Relijah McMillan 3-66, Jeremy Brockmann 2-14, Junior Castro 1-5, Trevin Todd 1-10, Drake VanderYacht 1-11, Sam Chambers 1-6. Nooksack Valley: Curtis Handy 3-34, Trey Handy 3-25, Bret Rediger 2-18, Levi Schram 2-43, Joey Scheffer 2-13, Josh Gimmaka 1-10 .
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.