CHARLESTON - Contrasting styles will clash when the Dexter Bearcats visit the Charleston Bluejays at 7:30 on Friday night at Marshall Stadium.
The Bearcats, with their power football, will try to defeat the Bluejays, with their tremendous speed, for the fourth straight year.
For both teams, the game carries a lot of weight, especially with it being a SEMO Central matchup.
For Charleston, it's a chance to start a long winning streak with the soft part of the schedule approaching. Dexter is looking to remain undefeated in the division.
"Looking at them on film, it shows that they can throw the football real well and they can run the football," said Charleston head coach Brent Anderson. "The (Matt) Burnett kid is a special talent. He's such a physical runner. He runs well between the tackles and he also has that extra gear when they get him out wide. He does a good job, they're offensive line does a real good job also."
The Bearcats are led by a trio of skill players. Burnett is among the area leaders in rushing with 797 yards on 120 carries with 10 touchdowns.
Burnett rushed for a career-high 254 yards on 17 carries last week against East Prairie.
"I think we always try to establish our running game," said Dexter head coach Aaron Pixley. "Quite obviously (Burnett is) the best one we have and we're going to give him the football. I feel like we didn't throw the ball very well against East Prairie. The way our offense is set up, we're going to have to be able to do both. I think that's what it's going to take against them."
Quarterback Preston Clark has completed 29-of-82 passes for 370 yards with three TDs and two interceptions.
Wide receiver Willie Dooley is his favorite target, catching 16 passes for 249 yards and three touchdowns.
"Clark is impressive," said Anderson. "He's not the biggest kid (5-10, 160) but he can throw it and the Dooley kid -- I don't know if we'll see a better possession-type receiver."
Both teams enter the matchup with identical 3-2 records. Charleston's most impressive win was a 35-32 victory over Kennett in Week 1. Dexter's top victory was a 55-7 triumph over Jonesboro Westside.
Both teams have a common opponent in Sikeston. The Bluejays lost to the Bulldogs 36-15 while Dexter fell 38-6.
Charleston has been besieged by injuries. Tailback Jordy Mixon was having an all-state caliber year but had it derailed by an ankle injury in Week 4. He sat out last week and is questionable on Friday.
He leads Charleston with 596 yards rushing.
The injury is a trend that always seems to strike Charleston against Dexter. Mixon didn't play in last year's game against Dexter either.
"Lady Luck is not on our side I guess," said Anderson. "We hope to be healthy Friday night. We've got some kids that are really banged up and as of today we don't know if they're going to go or not. If they're not 100 percent by Friday night we'll sit them out another week."
Fullback Orrice Stanback filled in nicely for Mixon last week, running for a season-high 226 yards on 28 carries against Malden.
He has 470 yards rushing this year.
"Orrice is a phenomenal player, but it just so happens he's a year behind Jordy Mixon," said Anderson. "He does a good job at fullback when Jordy's in there. Hopefully Jordy will play and if we can get both of them the football, that gives us a double threat. But if Jordy's out, I don't expect us to miss a beat. We should be able to run the football."
Quarterback Dontay Clark, more known for his legs than his arm, has run for 410 yards with a team-leading seven touchdowns. He has thrown just 13 times, completing two for 11 yards.
"They've got a lot of speed and whenever you have that you are dangerous," said Pixley. "We don't have their type of speed, so we're going to have to be disciplined and play good assignment football on defense and hope and pray they don't break a big one on us."
Dexter looks to have an edge on the line, where they have mashed Charleston in the past.
"High school football comes down to how you play in the trenches -- that's where the game is won and lost," said Anderson. "They're going to try to run it at us. Their offensive line is a good one. They like to physically intimidate you and they do a good job of it. They know they can line up and try to come off the football and strike you. They'll run it, but they throw the football as well as any team we've seen to this date."
As efficient as both teams' offenses have been this season, they both have been plagued by turnovers.
"I think it will come down to turnovers and whoever plays the best special teams," said Pixley. "We turn it over too much and I'm sure Coach Anderson will say the same thing for them. Our whole defense has a great challenge because of their speed and big play abilities. I think they're a lot better football team than they were last year. I think they have a great shot at winning their district and going to the playoffs again."