Melvindale’s football brings down Annapolis with PHOTO GALLERY – The News Herald

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The penultimate week of the Western Wayne Athletic Conference schedule was played on Friday night. One of those clashes featured Melvindale welcoming to Annapolis.

Annapolis Football Photo Gallery at Melvindale

On reunion night, the Cardinals host took advantage of a solid second half to walk away and took a 35-6 win over the Cougars.

With the win, Melvindale (5-2, 5-1 WWAC) maintained his hopes of sharing the conference title and set a regular-season winning record. The Cards face first-place Redford Union next week in the WWAC Season Finals.

Overall, Melvindale improved to 24-2 all-time record against Annapolis (0-7, 0-6 WWAC), a streak that began in 1968. This includes a 2-1 mark since the Cards joined the conference in 2019.

This last edition was underlined by Melvindale who dominated the visitors 21-0 in the second half. The home side had a 14-6 lead at the break after scoring with just under a minute left in the second quarter. They almost scored again in the dying seconds, but Annapolis managed an interception on the goal line.

To start the second half, the Cards received the ball and emptied nearly half of the third quarter in opening practice to score and made it a 22-6 game. They then added two more scores in the fourth quarter to bolster the lead.

Melvindale coach Derek Anderson was overall happy with the team’s collective effort on the reunion night.

“We went out tonight and did what we wanted,” said Anderson. “We wanted to dominate and run strong, play fast but strong and finish. It was important for us to have guys who hadn’t played all year in this game. It’s always special to (win) on reunion night, to give some guys some playtime that deserves it.

Annapolis has not been without opportunities in this competition. The Cougars returned the ball to the downs in Cards territory in the first practice of the game, which then turned into a Melvindale score.

Then near the end of the third, the visitors saw a 59-yard touchdown from quarterback Hassan Rivers devastated due to a penalty. They finally had to push him back and the Cards scored a touchdown in the training that followed.

Alex Muller – For MediaNews Group

Annapolis quarterback Hassan Rivers is set to throw the ball on Friday night at Melvindale. Rivers and the Cougars fought the host Cardinals in the first half, but ultimately fell to 35-6. (Alex Muller – For MediaNews Group)

Melvindale in the fourth quarter intercepted two passes, one of which was returned by Sebastian Lazoya and put the Cardinals in the red zone for another score.

Annapolis coach AJ Linares called their missteps on Friday mental.

“It’s all about the mentality,” Linares said. “We’ve been talking over the past two weeks about how adversity is where you find out what you are worth. No matter what you do, things can continue to work against you and how you will react.

“We’re still so young as an inexperienced college program, it just hasn’t broken through yet.”

Annapolis has definitely had its ups and downs this year.

The Cougars started 0-2, including a 45-0 loss to Union, then forfeited the next two games due to a COVID-19 issue. Since their return, they’ve lost just eight points to Thurston and lost just 10 points to Garden City, on top of giving Melvindale a first-half battle this week.

“This team, year after year, is always pushed against the fence,” said Linares. “It’s about that mentality of ‘are you ready to fight or are you going to curl up and take that beating.

“It’s pounded on them every week and you can see glimpses of it. But too often they feel like too much is against them. And it may be too much for them to bear at a young age.

Four of Melvindale’s five rushing touchdowns came on Friday. Quarterback Johnny Ford was two of the scores on the floor, he also connected with Kurtis Jackson at 42 yards in their first practice of the game.

Chris Sokolowski picked up a fumble from teammate Kurtis Jackson and hit him five yards. And in some cunning, senior lineman Richard Wynn took the transfer and executed it from two yards.

Annapolis’ only score came early in the second quarter, a practice that highlighted and was capped by Gavin Poisson scoring on the ground from 10 yards.

The Cards will be on the road in week 8 for their clash with league leaders Union. A Melvindale victory would drag the team into a first-place tie with the Panthers. Crestwood also has only one loss in WWAC and would likely join the Cards and the UK in a three-way tie for first place if Melvindale were to win on Friday.

The Cougars will end the home conference game on Friday night with a battle against local rival Robichaud. Annapolis’ last victory against the Bulldogs dates back to 2009.

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