Melissa Cardinals gears up for final push in playoff run

By Rick Bailey
Anna-Melissa Tribune

Melissa - The final week of District 7-4A (DI) play will determine playoff seeding of one of the state’s strongest districts in Class 4A. Argyle, ranked Number One for the entire season in Class 4A is traveling to Paris to face the Number Seven ranked team in the state. Melissa, the Number Five ranked team in the state finishes its season traveling to Kaufman to face the Wildcats. The outcome of these two contests will determine the playoff seeding for spots three and four in the district going into the playoffs in two weeks. Both Argyle and Melissa are entrenched in spots one and two moving forward despite the outcome of the Friday night games. 

Melissa is coming off of another big blowout win last Friday as they dominated Terrell, 57-27. The Cardinals amassed 565 yards of total offense (317 rushing and 248 passing) with their high octane offense. Running back Braeden Smith rushed for 169 yards in the rout of the Tigers at Cardinal Stadium. Quarterback Sam Fennegan added 156 yards passing and three touchdowns before he gave way to his backups (Walker Overman, Parker Taylor and Jack Richardson), who combined for six of 13 passing with 91 yards and two touchdowns.

Jaylen Williams added another rushing touchdown from the backfield with eight attempts and 56 yards for the Cardinals. Four different receivers caught touchdowns for Melissa on the night. Chanse Holiday got two touchdown catches on three receptions and 48 yards; Bryson Nealy caught three passes for 60 yards and a touchdown; Ryan Johnson added two catches and 51 yards with one touchdown and Colton Wittwer gathered in three passes for 24 yards and one touchdown. 

Cardinal head coach Matt Nally made it clear last week that his troops were gearing up for a playoff run and they were going to make sure that they were deep at all positions on both sides of the ball. Melissa used four quarterbacks, had 10 different people carry the ball and six receivers caught passes in the win over Terrell. This strategy is creating a depth of talent necessary to make a deep run in tough Class 4A Division I. 

Anna is headed into the last week of the regular season with the opportunity to get a win and finish with a very respectable .500 season in the extremely tough district. The Coyotes are traveling to Terrell as 10 point underdogs, but fully expect to give the Tigers all they can handle. Last Friday Anna jumped out to a 21-7 lead in the first quarter and then held Carrollton Ranchview scoreless the rest of the way. The 35-7 win gives Anna the momentum to finish the season on a high note for the very young squad. 

The top four teams in District 7-4A (DI) will face off in the first round of the against District 8-4A (DI). The top four teams in the district are Wilmer-Hutchins (3-1) who battles one win Pinkston (1-3); Lincoln (3-1) who faces North Dallas (2-2) and Dallas Carter (2-2) who plays Dallas Roosevelt (1-3). Wilmer-Hutchins has a firm hold on the top spot with their only district loss coming at the hands of Dallas Carter 34-30 in the second week of district play. If they win, then they will maintain the number one position and will face the fourth place finisher in District 7-4A (DI). 

The Dallas Lincoln Tigers are 17 point favorites over North Dallas going into their Friday night showdown. If Lincoln wins and Wilmer-Hutchins wins they will lock down spots one and two in the district. That only leaves the outcome of the Dallas Carter contest as they visit Dallas Roosevelt on Friday night. 

The Cowboys are 26 point favorites in the final contest of the regular season. With a  Dallas Carter win and a North Dallas loss. The final standing in District 8-4A (DI) for the top four spots would be Wilmer-Hutchins, Dallas Lincoln, Dallas Carter and North Dallas. According to the UIL Playoff brackets the first round contests would be district winner versus fourth place and district runner-up versus third place. All first round games would be part of the bottom half of the Class 4A - Division I Region 2 bracket.