Melbourne to defend 2-1 season against Harding Academy | Sports

MELBOURNE — The Melbourne Bearkatz are currently in the third spot in the 2-3A conference with a 2-1 record after beating Riverview 35-0 last Friday night.

This week, Melbourne turns its focus to league-leading Harding Academy (5-2, 2-0). Harding Academy defeated Mountain View 38-0 and Riverview 35-7 for its two conference wins and have not played since October 8.

“I watched them on film for at least two weeks and to be honest, they are very good,” Melbourne head football coach Casey Moreland said. “They are good enough to have competed with us in 2017 at Arkadelphia, but that being said, I really think that they are well-coached and do the little things right.”

Harding Academy quarterback Kade Smith has 1,481 yards passing so far this year and has a wide variety of receivers to throw to. The Wildcats beat Bald Knob in the season-opener, then dropped a 31-30 decision to Valley View. Harding Academy beat Heber Springs and Camden Harmony Grove handily before losing to Briarcrest of Memphis, Tennessee.

“They have some good athletes over there and they are pretty amazing to watch,” Moreland said. “Every kid is doing exactly what you are telling him to do. At most high schools, if you can get half of them doing the right thing and the other half doing a decent job, it can work. But these kids are like that on every snap and that tells me they are different types of kids. This is the best football team we will see all year long.”

Melbourne (5-2, 2-1) has been led by quarterback Trey Wren, who has thrown 956 yards this season. Last week, he accounted for 221 yards of total offense in Melbourne’s 35-0 win over Riverview.

“I believe that Harding Academy is beatable,” Moreland said.

Another reason for Moreland’s optimism is the Bearkatz defensive unit led by Carter Bray, Ethan Seay, Sawyer Hoskind, Dakota Townsley and Chayse Beene.

Harding Academy leads the conference with a 5-2 overall record and is 2-0. Newport, who beat Melbourne by one point earlier this year in Newport 21-20, is 4-3 overall and 3-1.

Melbourne is in third place with a 5-2 mark and is 2-1. Mountain View follows with a 5-2 overall record and a 1-1 conference record.

Next is Riverview at 4-4 and 1-3, then Salem is 4-3 and 0-3.

“They don’t seem to be as big up front as they have been in the past,” Moreland said. “Valley View got after it when they beat them. And that’s what we are going to have to do.”

Juniors Nathan Woodall and Malachi Cruz are set for the Melbourne secondary, while linebackers include Seay and Robert Langston. Parker Morgan, Payton Webb and Caleb Conrad anchor the line for the Bearkatz.

The game is set for a 7 p.m. start.

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