Meridian junior Tucker Harrison returns as the starting quarterback for the Trojans this fall. (Hailey Palmer/Lynden Tribune)

Meridian streaking early in first full season since 2019

LAUREL — Meridian football has now doubled its games played from a year ago with the team’s week four 26-14 win over Bellingham. The team’s spring 2021 season was abbreviated due to COVID-19.

The Trojans were slated for a five-game schedule last year. The team wound up playing just two.

Bryant Michaelson, Meridian’s athletic director, said he enjoys simply providing the players an opportunity to compete. The excitement of a full slate of games is apparent throughout the program, he said.

Leading up to the proposed five-game schedule last season, the team had much less time to prepare than normal due to COVID-19 restrictions. They were able to employ all their regular offseason programs this year, such as regular offseason conditioning and summer camp.

This return to a normal season schedule has effects that stretch beyond the football field.

“It gave us a new and unique perspective on how important sports are — and football in particular — for our community,” Michaelson said. “I would say if you walked through the school right now, there’s just a buzz.”

Students are still wearing masks and socially distancing during in-school hours, but the general feeling is it’s a step toward normalcy. The high school atmosphere is back, Michaelson said.

Tucker Harrison, Meridian’s junior starting quarterback, echoed Michaelson’s sentiment.

“Especially on game nights, you just get a rush that’s like ‘we’re back,’” Harrison said.

Harrison said having only two weeks of suiting up for Friday nights a year ago was difficult, but he has used the experience as a positive driving force into this season. That experience includes evolving into one of the team’s top leaders.

“This year the coaches really pushed me to be more positive and always be the guy that’s encouraging people to work harder,” he said. “I’m just trying to improve my reads, making smart throws and being able to adapt to different situations.”

Harrison is just glad to be back out on the field with his teammates and to have five more games upcoming. 

Meridian has now won three games in a row after falling to Burlington-Edison in week one.

Head coach Patrick Ames doesn’t care about any momentum the team may carry. He is only concerned about his team taking it week-by-week. Rightfully so, as tough competition lurks on their schedule ahead.

“We don’t think like that, and we never have,” Ames said. “You reset the next week.”

The Trojans saw five freshmen start on Friday night, with six seeing significant time on the field by the game’s end. Ames wants to see his players’ confidence continue to grow.

“This might have been our most complete game, but we’re going to be coaching the hardest this week,” Ames said. “That’s the approach every single week.”

The team split their two games last season, taking down Nooksack Valley in the first contest but losing to Anacortes in the second. They will stay home in their upcoming league contest, hosting Nooksack Valley on Friday, Oct. 1.