Sikeston (0-2) has dropped its first two games this year with road losses at Caruthersville (60-0) and Charleston (34-14). It's the first time Sikeston has started the season 0-2 since 1983.
Dexter, which enters at 1-1, has been an irritable thorn in the Bulldogs' side the last two years, posting back-to-back upset victories after losing to Sikeston seven straight times.
But this year, Dexter will be the favored team. The Bearcats started the season with an eye-opening 21-7 win against Ste. Genevieve, but the team lost at home last week to Gosnell, Ark., 34-32.
"It's a no brainer to whether we can get up for this football game," said Dexter coach Aaron Pixley. "Sikeston always has a quality program and they are going to come out with a good football team and we've got to play hard all night long to win it. If we do that we'll have a chance. If we don't we won't. It's all about effort, effort and execution and I hope we have both."
Execution has been a problem for the Bulldogs so far this season. Ten turnovers and untimely penalties have been the main contributors to the Bulldogs' slow start.
"You take away turnovers that Sikeston has made, especially against Charleston, its a much different story," said Pixley. "They can be a good football team and I think they know that. And I know we know that."
Sikeston coach Jerry Dement has stressed fundamentals in practice this week with the hope that it will carry over into Friday night.
"One thing we worked on this week is we've got to cut out silly penalties and turnovers," said Dement. "When we do that we'll have a chance in a ballgame."
The Bulldog offense showed signs of life in last week's loss to Charleston, rushing for 159 yards. Apollo Patterson led the way with 86 yards on 12 carries.
"They run the ball well and I know they'll try to run the ball against us," said Pixley.
But the passing game has been woefully bad thus far, with quarterback Bryce Wibbenmeyer throwing six interceptions, completing 14-of-34 passes for 111 yards.
Dement said the struggles are a combination of things from poor judgment by Wibbenmeyer, a first-year starter, to poor route running by the wide receivers.
"Our running game picked it up last week and now we've got to bring our passing game up and have some semblance of balance," said Dement. "We're still trying to find out what we're going to do best. One thing for sure is we've got to control the line of scrimmage and get some good clock management."
Dexter's offense has been sharp in the first two weeks led by strong-armed quarterback Kyle Espey. He had thrown for 486 yards, completing 22-of-39 passes with five scores. Wideout Derek Roberts has 13 catches for 317 yards with four scores.
"Offensively it starts with a fine quarterback and they've got some very capable receivers, especially Roberts, he's quite an athlete," said Dement. "And they have a solid running game and a good offensive line. We really think they have one of the better teams they've had in a long time."
On the ground, Alex Becker leads the way with 120 yards on 14 carries, all in last week's loss to Gosnell.
"They've got a fine ballclub -- they've got a little bit of everything," said Dement. "They're strong defensively. They have good sized kids, they're very aggressive and they run to the ball well."
Both teams are stout on the defensive line which Pixley views as a challenge for his offensive line.
"Defensively their linebackers are hard nosed, good hitters that run well, and their defensive tackles (Joe Johnson and Malcolm Applewhite) are two of the better around and we'll have to work hard on offense to execute that's for sure," said Pixley.
The Bearcats will field one of the highest touted defenses in the area Friday night, but Dement knows his team's success hinges on one main aspect -- cutting down on turnovers.
"We turned the ball over five times against Caruthersville and five times against Charleston and also gave them a short field," said Dement. "You cannot do that against a good team like Dexter. We really want to be turnover conscious. We've just got to play better. That's the bottom line."