CLASS 4A DIVISION II
Area Playoff

Rusk Eagles (9-2)

vs.

Melissa Cardinals (10-1)

7:30 p.m. Friday
Tiger Stadium, Corsicana

Coaches

  • Rusk: Jowell Hancock
  • Melissa: Seth Stinton

Last week

Next week

  • Winner faces either Caddo Mills or Gilmer, regional semifinals

Playmakers

Rusk

  • QB/DB Darrian McDuff, Sr., 6-1, 185 (105-of-173, 1,758 yards, 16 TDs, 9 INTs; 145 carries, 976 yards, 17 TDs)
  • RB/LB Sam Thomas, Sr., 5-10, 190 (132 carries, 1,267 yards, 17 TDs)
  • WR Joseph Francis, 6-1, 170 (33 catches, 627 yards, 7 TDs)
  • OL/DL Travis Pepin, Sr., 6-2, 275
  • OL/DL Jermaine Lewis, Jr., 6-3, 230
  • RB Damion Freeney, Sr., 6-0, 170 (22 carries, 121 yards, 1 TD; 14 catches, 163 yards, 3 TDs)

Melissa

  • QB Brendan Lewis, So., 6-3, 190 (108-of-163, 1,738, 20 TDs, 2 INTs; 58 carries, 550 yards, 8 TDs)
  • RB JaBray Young, So., 5-10, 200 (79 carries, 717 yards, 7 TDs)
  • WR K.C. Lewis, Jr., 6-4, 195 (29 catches, 618 yards, 4 TDs)
  • Collin O'Neal, 6-1, 210 (75 tackles, 20 for loss, 6 sacks, 22 QB hurries, 2 forced fumbles)
  • DB Cole McCraw, Sr., 6-3, 180 (6 INTs, 8 PBUs, 58 tackles, 1 for loss)

Just the facts

  • Melissa is scoring 45.5 points per game and allowing 22.8.
  • The Cardinals 305 yards per game (133.9 rushing and 171.1 passing).
  • Cardinal quarterback Brendan Lewis has a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 10:1.
  • Rusk is averaging 40 points per game and giving up 21.7.
  • The Eagles defeated Pittsburg by 41 points, their second-largest margin of victory this season, in the first round of the playoffs.
  • Darrian McDuff has run and passed for 100 yards in the same game three times the season.

Key matchup: Sam Thomas and Darrian McDuff against the Melissa defense. Rusk likes to run. It is averaging 236.3 yards per game on the ground this season.

The Eagles almost of two 1,000-yard rushers. Darrian McDuff is only 24 yards shy. However, Melissa has some players on defense who have proved capable run-stoppers this season. In particular, Collin O'Neal, who has 20 tackles for loss, has stood out.

McDuff and Thomas will be tough to beat, though. Did we mention Thomas has more than 1,200 yards this season?

A team could lose this battle and still end up winning the game if it excels in other areas. However, a win in this category would drastically improve the chances of winning the game.

Don't be surprised if: Cardinal quarterback Brendan Lewis goes without an interception. He has been very stingy in giving the ball away, in a positive way. He only has two interceptions this season.

That is compared to 20 touchdowns. Perhaps Rusk is able to get pressure and force some bad throws. However, it's not worth betting on. Lewis has been money for the most part this season.

He is also only a sophomore, so the future is bright in Melissa.