High school football: Harridge, Meurs no strangers to big-game atmosphere
Been there, done that
Mike Papoccia will sleep a bit easier after Saturday, whether or not the Comets beat rival Morrison at Roscoe Eades Stadium.
If no other reason, there is a chance he'll never have to send a group of Comets out to play against Calvin Harridge, who along with Kyle Meurs, has started at linebacker for the Mustangs since their sophomore season.
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"He's been a nightmare," Papoccia said. "He makes a lot of tackles."
Of course, the two teams could meet up in the playoffs for the the third straight season so Papoccia could see Harridge again.
Right now, Newman is ranked No. 3 in Class 3A. Morrison is No. 1 in 2A. It would not be the first time that the Comets' have spent the season in the 3A rankings then dropped to 2A in the playoffs.
The playoff classes are determined by the enrollments of the teams that qualify.
"It's sort of seems like we've played Newman every other week the last couple years," Morrison coach Cory Bielema said. "There's really not much new you can say about it. They're still the same great team.
"I am sure they looked at last week's tape like we did ours, and saw things that need to be improved."
One thing that will be hard to improve on is the performance of Harridge (6-1, 200) and Meurs (6-1, 180). They combined for 23 tackles in the Mustangs' 14-0 win over Kewanee in Week 1.
"I thought we did pretty well with a new group of players, many of whom have never played varsity before," Meurs said. "I think they were a little nervous at the start, but settled down."
Stopping Newman will be another challenge. The Comets had 383 yards in a 27-6 win over a St. Bede team expected to contend for the Big Rivers title.
"We know that they are always going to be good," Harridge said. "We just have to read our keys and stick to our assignments. We can't worry about what the other team is doing. We just have to focus on doing what we need to do."
Harridge and Meurs have been on the field for the last four meetings between the two schools, which include two Class 2A quarterfinal games. The two have also played in two state championship games.
That sort of big-game experience is not easy to come by.
"You can't ask for two better kids to be at that position," Bielema said. "They're leaders. They always listen and do the things that they are asked to do. Plus, they're both good students in the classroom and stay out of trouble."
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Roscoe Eades Stadium
Radio: 102.7 FM
Twitter: Follow Christopher Heimerman (@CHeimerman_SVM) for live updates from Sterling
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