The Meridian football team returned to the field in a big way.
One week after forfeiting a game under a myriad of rumors surrounding a split between the players and coaching staff, the Trojans returned after a long trip to Chelan with a 49-14 victory.
“It was a good team win,” Meridian coach Bob Ames said in a phone interview. “Both teams made some mistakes, but I think we figured things out a little sooner than they did.”
The win caps off perhaps the most tumultuous two weeks for the Meridian football program in Ames’ 42-year tenure.
The Trojans (1-2) were forced to forfeit their Week 2 game against Squalicum after several players were absent from a couple of practice sessions leading up to the game. The players approached Meridian athletic director Kurt Harvill with a list of concerns, central among which were communication issues and practice length, Harvill said.
After ironing out differences between the players and coaching staff, Meridian returned to the practice field on Monday to begin preparations for Chelan.
And Friday, following the more than four-hour trip to Chelan, the team seemed to come together under the lights.
“It was nice to see things put aside for something they enjoy doing — something we all enjoy doing,” Meridian coach Bob Ames said. “It was pretty cool.”
Ames said the turning point of the game came in the first quarter, when Nick Dritsas returned a kickoff 75 yards for a touchdown after Chelan had cut the Trojans’ lead to 7-6 on a 44-yard pass play.
Dritsas followed that up with a 2-yard touchdown run in the second quarter, and Simon Burkett scored from 13 yards out to give Meridian a 28-14 lead at the half.
Burkett added another TD on the ground, before passing for two more to Marcus McGuinn to help the Trojans pull away in the second half. He finished with 94 yards rushing and 256 passing to lead the Trojans.
Dritsas led the team with 99 rushing yards and 76 through the air, while McGuinn had three catches for 71 yards.
The Trojans open NWC 1A play on Friday, Sept. 25, at Lynden Christian.
Mer — Alan Eyoub 5 run (Eyoub kick)
Che — 44 pass (kick blocked)
Mer — Nick Dritsas 75 kickoff return (Eyoub kick)
Mer — Dritsas 2 run (Eyoub kick)
Chel — 17 run (run good)
Mer — Simon Burkett 13 run (Eyoub kick)
Mer — Burkett 26 run (Eyoub kick)
Mer — Marcus McGuinn 48 pass from Burkett (Eyoub kick)
Mer — McGuinn 3 pass from Burkett (Eyob kick)
RUSHING — Meridan: Nick Dritsas 15-99, Simon Burkett 10-94, Koby Smith 6-30, Tony Schliemer 5-20, Marcus McGuinn 4-9, Alan Eyoub 1-5, Bryson Hickok 1-3, Dakota Jones 2-(-5).
PASSING — Meridian: Simon Burkett 13-22-256-1, Marcus McGuinn 2-3-14-0
RECEIVING — Meridian: Nick Dritsas 4-76, Marcus McGuinn 3-71, Andrew Logan 2-54, Dakota Jones 2-38, Mack Hughes 1-7, Daniel Young 3-24.