He came back in Week 4 at Lake Geneva Badger.
On one of his first runs, Burlington junior running back Hunter Melby almost took it to the house, bursting down the right sideline for a 50-yard gain.
He didn’t do much on the ground the rest of the contest, one in which Badger eventually pulled away, but it was a sign of things to come.
Melby officially put himself on the map in Friday night’s 42-14 stomping of Westosha Central at Burlington Stadium.
The raucous, T-shirt-crazy crowd witnessed the Demons’ first big rushing game of the season. Melby showed his explosiveness with touchdown runs of 59 and 13 yards and totaled 193 yards on only 13 carries, a 14.8 yard-per-carry average.
It was the Demons’ second 100-yard rushing performance of the season. Burlington (4-2 overall, 2-2 SLC) is a traditional running program. The triple option has been around for decades and led to multiple Southern Lakes titles in the 1990s.
But this year, maybe more than ever, the Demons are airing it out and showing spread-type offense looks. In a 13-10 loss to Waterford two weeks ago, Burlington junior Brad Burling lined up in the shotgun most of the fourth quarter and slung it all over the field to Skyler Vandusseldorp and Luke Dahl.
Don’t get me wrong, the Demons have the weapons to pass for 200 yards or more in a game, but in high school football, success often starts on the ground. Melby may be that spark that the team has been looking for all season.
The three-headed monster of Melby, Burling and Neal Peterson accounted for 300 of those yards Friday. Burling’s continued improvement in the run game will open things up in the passing game for talented weapons Dahl (196 receiving yards, 2 TDs) and Vandusseldorp (125 receiving yards).
Burlington got back to basics Friday, and a blowout victory was the result.
Despite starting the season 3-0, the Demons must now win two of their final three games to qualify for the Division II playoffs. Burlington is hoping to qualify in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2005-06.
If the Demons want any chance of playing in November, Melby may be the X-factor to take them there.
For the entire story, pick up Thursday’s Burlington Standard Press.