The 2001 high school football season kicks off Friday night, and of the 10 games in the SEMO Conference, none look more intriguing than Charleston at Kennett.
Both the Bluejays and Indians are expected to be improved this year, and the two teams have matched up really well recently in the opening week of the season.
Considering Charleston's backfield, I like its chances to move the ball and score. But I'm not sure the Bluejays can match Kennett touchdown for touchdown.
Final score: Kennett 30, Charleston 24
- Jackson has been seething all summer, looking to prove itself after last year's district loss to Poplar Bluff. But the Indians aren't going to be thinking about the Mules on Friday night.
Mario Whitney, Bryan Austin, Seth McDowell, Travis Dambach and Brad Berry are coming to SPS Stadium to open the season with a convincing victory.
For Sikeston, it's a good opportunity to see how they stack up against the area's best. For the Bulldogs, keeping the score close would bode well for the rest of the season.
Final score: Jackson 28, Sikeston 7
- Blytheville returns just three offensive and five defensive starters from last year's 3-7 team, and lost its entire backfield to graduation. The Chickasaws still should be a challenge for the Eagles though, who have to adjust to a new coach and quarterback.
Blytheville recently got killed 33-0 in an exhibition game, but that was against Arkansas powerhouse Osceola. With athletes like juniors Travis Armstrong and Michael Diggs, NMCC will have to work for a win.
Final score: NMCC 21, Blytheville 8
- The Dexter-Poplar Bluff series has been a little lopsided. In fact, 1989 was the last time the Bearcats pulled out a win in Week 1 against the Mules.
Don't expect the Mules' dominance to end this season. Dexter might be able to put some points on the board and make the final score look respectable, but their chances of pulling out the upset are slim.
Poplar Bluff has too much size, speed and depth for the Bearcats to counter.
Final score: Poplar Bluff 28, Dexter 12
- Last year Cape Central shutout St. Charles West, 35-0. The Warriors return a few key players off that 4-6 team, most notably running backs Tyrell Nones and Levell Cotton.
But its nothing Cape Central can't handle.
The Tigers may not win as convincingly this year, but it still won't be close.
Final score: Cape Central 31, St. Charles W. 3
- The last couple of years, this has been a make-or-break game in the SEMO South Conference. Scott City and Malden may not be as dominant in the division as they have been in the past, but it's still a must-win for both teams.
The Green Wave appear to have a slightly better team, but all bets are off when these two take the field.
Final score: Malden 16, Scott City 12
Caruthersville at A-J
- The Tigers will have their hands full in Week 1, traveling to Anna-Jonesboro to face the Wildcats, who are ranked 8th in Illinois 3A.
A-J returns all the skill players from last year's 9-3 team, but lost a lot up front. Fullback Adam Casper is coming off a 1,400-yard season, and appears to be Caruthersville's biggest concern.
Last week the Wildcats opened the season with a 41-6 win over Flora. Caruthersville won't be beaten that severely.
Final score: Anna-Jonesboro 21, Caruthersville 6
- Gosnell (Ark.) might be the toughest team Portageville has to play all year. If the Bulldogs can just get out of this one healthy, they will have a chance to win in their next three games. Portageville looked impressive in last week's jamboree, but beating Gosnell is too much to ask at this point.
Final score: Gosnell 28, Portageville 7
- The Indians appear to have an advantage in almost every facet of this matchup. East Prairie might compete early, but doesn't have the speed to keep up.
Final score: Hayti 32, East Prairie 12
- This might turn out to be the closest game of the week. Considering Grandview's tradition, most would pick Chaffee in a heartbeat. But the Red Devils aren't expected to be world beaters this year either.
When it's this close, go with the home team.
Final score: Chaffee 14, Grandview 13