Area's top talent to be on display at Kennett
KENNETT -- With running back Jordy Mixon, fullback Orrice Stanback and quarterback Dontay Clark, Charleston will open the season at Kennett Friday night with one of the most potent backfields in Southeast Missouri.
On the opposing sideline, Kennett will put standouts such as running back Tyree Goolsby, wideout Dustin Pritchett, and quarterback Nathan Baker on the field.
Historically this SEMO Central matchup has been fairly balanced, and considering the players both teams are bringing, the same can be expected this year.
"I think there is going to be a lot of talent on the field Friday night," said Charleston coach Brent Anderson. "We're both improved from last year. Kennett has some serious weapons on offense and defense, and we feel like we do to. It should be a good matchup. I think it will come down to who beats who up front."
Charleston is expected to be much more formidable on the offensive line this season, starting Adam Bowles (6-0, 230), Tyler Collier (6-2, 235), Dadrian Jones (6-0, 195), Wesley Patterson (5-11, 185), and A.H. Marshall (5-10, 165).
The key will come on the other side of the ball, as Charleston's defensive line looks to shut down the line of scrimmage against Kennett's high-powered offense.
Last season Goolsby finished third in conference rushing, gaining 1,204 yards on 127 carries. Baker threw for 501 yards, and Pritchett had 489 yards receiving.
Up front, the Indians will start experienced linemen Derek Gooch (6-0, 185), Brett Pu (6-2, 240), Dustin Roland (5-10, 225), Adam Winston (6-2, 205), and Tyler Fincher (6-2, 215).
"Kennett is loaded on offense," said Anderson. "They can do anything they want to do. We just have to limit the big plays, and make them work for the yards they get. It's going to be a big challenge for us."
Charleston's best defense might be its offense, which will look to set the tone early. Last season Mixon, Clark and Stanback combined for over 2,00 yards and scored 28 touchdowns.
"We're expecting a good test from (Charleston)," said Kennett head coach Roland Johnson. "We're very athletic, but they're very athletic also. They can make things happen in a hurry, and Coach Anderson will have those guys ready to go."
If Kennett does manage to shut down the run game, the Bluejays hope to have an effective passing game with the receiving corps of Henry Hall, Tiyez Whitney and Travis McCann.
"We feel we can match up with them offensively," said Anderson. "Right now, my concern is our defense and special teams. They are a 3A school, and we don't match up as well numbers wise either. Hopefully depth doesn't become the deciding factor, because that is not weighing in our end."
Last year's game saw 11 fumbles, four interceptions and 200 yards in penalties. Kennett won 19-6 by playing on Charleston's half of the field.
Of the Indians' 11 offensive drives, six started at the Charleston 36 or lower. The Bluejays' average drive started at their own 35.
"We want to win the field position battles this year," said Anderson. "We believe that will lead to more points on our side of the board and less on theirs. We want to limit our mental mistakes. Last year (against Kennett) we had 16 penalties and four turnovers. When you're doing that, you're not going to win many football games. I don't care who you are."
Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at Kennett High School. "It's an early gut check," said Anderson. "We're going to see what we're all about right off the bat."