The game between the Cougars (11-1) and Meridian’s Russell Christian (12-0) is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Mississippi College in Clinton.
Russell beat Calhoun 35-26 on the last day of the regular season.
"We're going to get after it and not be as intimidated and nervous when we get there to play,” said Melton, who replaced head coach Gerry Winters, who was sidelined following preseason heart surgery. “We're playing at a neutral site and I think it helps us to have gotten beat."
Winters had surgery the week of the team’s preseason jamboree. Melton was named interim coach and routinely makes visits to Winters' Vardaman home to discuss the game plan.
Melton said the two share similar styles, which made the transition easier to handle. The two had also coached together before.
meeting in the middle
"We've spent a lot of time together getting ready for game week,” Melton said. “I take film or a scouting report I've done. He tells me what he would do. I tell him what I would do and we meet somewhere in the middle."
The Cougars are led offensively by senior running back Kyle Carter, who has 1,230 yards and 24 touchdowns. Danny Joe Norman, a senior, is only 54 yards shy of 1,000 and has scored 12 touchdowns.
Senior Devin Northrip leads the team with 124 tackles.
"We've got eight seniors who are pretty solid mentally and kind of keep everybody else in line and help the wheels turn on the bus,” Melton said. “When they found out I was going to coach, they bought in to what we were trying to do as a staff. The kids are dedicated and it always helps to have good athletes that make you look good."