By Mike Kays
Phoenix Sports Editor
If anyone can give an informed opinion on the Hilldale vs. Seminole matchup Friday in the Class 3A quarterfinals, Lincoln Christian coach Darren Melton can.
His Bulldogs lost to Seminole 76-43 in a season opener on Sept. 6. They fell to Hilldale 37-14 on Oct. 11. They’re also one of three teams from District 3A-7 along with Locust Grove and Hilldale that are still playing football as one of eight 3A quarterfinalists. Every other district has one team left — 3A-1 champion Blanchard, 3A-2 winner Seminole, 3A-3 titlist Kingfisher and Beggs, the runner-up in 3A-6.
Melton had a lot to say earlier this week. But he stopped short of picking a winner of the 7:30 tilt at Hornet Field.
“Seminole is just a school rich in tradition, a football school, very good and very senior-heavy, they’re really good with what they do and have a great tailback,” he said, referring to Papi White and his state-best 2,813 yards this season.
“The quiet but solid guy is the quarterback (Doc Harvey, 868 yards rushing, 1,453 passing). The kid’s a player, he’s mobile, he’s a winner. They’re fast in the back in on defense and when it matters the White kid is out there. I think he could play on the next level back there.
“Our game was 30-28 at half, they’re up 38-35 in the third quarter with five minutes to go and they just ran us over.”
Hilldale didn’t explode offensively like that, but they held Lincoln to fewer points.
“Part of our problem was we had more kids going both ways and they just wore us down,” Melton said. “Hilldale plays enough guys one way they can challenge them for four quarters.”
Keys for Hilldale, he was asked?
“They’ll have to force Seminole into some mistakes and not give them any extra possessions with mistakes,” he said. “It’s also at home for Hilldale and coach (Chad) Kirkhart has to feel good about that.
“They’re doing what they need to do on both sides of the ball. They’re good enough up front that they’ll have to throw the ball with success and they have the receivers to do it. They’ll have to load the box and slow Papi down. He’s the one you have to keep under control.
“Other than being fast he sees things very well and he undertstands the scheme and he hits things going down hill. He's physical He's the total package. You have to pack the box, make them throw it and then you've got to be able to run the ball and keep that defense off the field, ball control, move the chains and keep Papi off the field.”
Not keeping their offense off the field is what hurt his team, he added.
“We scored fast but it gave them more possessions,” he said. “They didn't throw the ball that great, but they didn't need to. They are a very efficient run game and played guys on one side of the ball so they stay fresh up front.”
Melton’s team, 8-4, has knocked off Stigler and previously unbeaten 3A-6 champion Victory Christian after finishing third behind Locust Grove and the Hornets in 3A-7. The Bulldogs draw No. 1 Blanchard (12-0) which beat Hilldale at this point last year.
“Hopefully we can all represent 3A-7 well,” Melton said. “At this point, it’s all about advancing however you can do it.”