Melissa High School, just two years removed from winning the Class 2A Division 1 state championship, fared well in 3A last season with a district championship and a 9-3 finish.
Competition is strong in District 12-3A, so the Cardinals can’t afford to miss a beat if they want to hold onto the district title. Next-door neighbors Anna and Princeton will figure into the mix, as should Bonham. Melissa has plenty of seniors and a total of 21 lettermen returning from last year’s squad.
The return of key offensive players could boost the Cardinals. Running back Marcus Ellis, the district MVP, joins quarterback Zach Torres and wide receiver Jackson Webb (562 yards, 7 TDs receiving). Webb (6-2, 196) is difficult to bring down once he gets momentum. Meanwhile, senior wideout J.C. Cottrell should benefit from defenses’ focus on Webb.
Like other top teams in the district, Melissa is stacked on defense. In addition to Webb and Cottrell in the secondary, the Cards will have Torres getting some time at linebacker. The ultimate success of Melissa’s season might depend on how effectively head coach Seth Stinton is able to use his two-way players on defense. The strength is up front, with linemen Jacob Carlson and Michael Blackburn.
The Cardinals need to enter November healthy, with the last two games of the season coming against district heavyweight Princeton and arch-rival Anna.
Head coach: Seth Stinton. 2012 record: 9-3, 4-0 in District 12-3A. area finalist. Top players: RB Marcus Ellis, Sr.; WR Jackson Webb, Sr.; WR J.C. Cottrell, Sr.; LB Cameron Brewer, Sr.; QB Zach Torres, Sr.; DL Michael Blackburn, Jr.; DL Jacob Carlson, Sr.; OL Austin reese, Sr.; LB A.J. Backwell, Jr.; DB Cameron Hunter, Jr.