One of Brevard County’s last four unbeaten high school football teams went down Friday, and it was the Melbourne Bulldogs taking home the scalp.
You can be sure the Bulldogs put it next to the one from Eau Gallie, the last unbeaten team Melbourne took out. Here’s a thought coming out of those two wins and the manner in which they were earned: Don’t sleep on the Bulldogs during playoff time.
It’s easy to look at the three remaining unbeatens — Heritage, Merritt Island and Melbourne Central Catholic — or the other ranked team, Cocoa, when looking for a team ready to make a postseason run. But don’t count out the Bulldogs, whose defense stymied Bayside on Friday just as it had done against Eau Gallie.
Remember, both Eau Gallie and Bayside have good football teams. The Bears are a likely playoff team, and Eau Gallie will await the Melbourne-Viera game to get a better idea of its fate. Add in that the two Melbourne losses came respectably to likely playoff teams Merritt Island and Palm Bay, and the Bulldogs start to look even stronger.
The Mustangs have had problems with their bracket in recent years, running into Glades Central and Archbishop McCarthy. Ditto for Palm Bay: Miami Central and Dwyer.
This year? The Mustangs-Pirates survivor could reach the state semifinal round to face either Plantation American Heritage or Cardinal Gibbons. Maybe that’s the district with the best shot for this area to get a team to a state final.
Cocoa will have one less round in 4A, but the Tigers likely are headed for another semifinal meeting with Miami Washington, which could be the nation’s best team. That is, if Clewiston hasn’t improved enough to knock off Cocoa early.
Keep in mind, many of our best teams could face all-star-type teams. If cross-county migration of top players seems bad in Brevard, be assured it is not in the same league here as what happens in South Florida and the Orlando area.
South Florida will provide the regional final problem for Heritage. If the Panthers want to win a state title, they’ll have to get past Miami Central, Class 6A’s top-ranked team and the only group to play within 11 points of Washington this year.
Back to where we started. Take that big green swarm of a Melbourne defense, versatile running game behind a big offensive line and a passing threat that few out-of-county opponents will expect, and Melbourne could be dangerous in 7A. The Bulldogs could have some running room before hitting St. Thomas Aquinas or Dwyer in a state semifinal.
Here comes Week 8. The real contenders are beginning to show themselves.