There will be several new intriguing matchups for SEMO Conference teams in 2003, while many teams in the area still have unfilled open dates.
Sikeston's schedule remains unchanged from last year, which includes an open date in Week 7.
"Lone Oak (Ky.) had contacted us and they had an open date, but they just decided they didn't want to play," said Sikeston head coach Charlie Vickery. "It's really kind of hard when you have an open date in the middle, especially the way you're scheduling in two-year intervals. We should be able to fill it for next year anyway."
The Bulldogs, which went 7-2 last year, will host Jackson and Charleston to start the season. Other highlights include road district games against Cape Central and Poplar Bluff.
"Just the conference and district games are challenging enough with Jackson, Cape and Poplar Bluff," said Vickery. "Dexter and Charleston made the playoffs last year, New Madrid's always good. We've got our hands full."
Chaffee, Hayti, Malden, Scott City, Charleston and Kennett were other teams that saw no changes in schedules.
New Madrid County Central had one change on its schedule. Dyersburg, Tenn., which split against the Eagles in the two year contract, decided not to renew the series with NMCC.
"The problem we're having is people around here that are comparable size, don't want to play," said NMCC head coach Steve Rogers. "I think it's because it's a game right before districts, and even when we're not real good we will still line up and hit you. And you don't want to get a bunch of people beat up before your district season starts."
Replacing the Dyersburg on NMCC's schedule will be Mater Dei of Breese, Ill., in Week 7.
The Knights went 11-1 last year, losing to Hillsboro in the state playoffs.
"It's a Catholic school with about the same enrollment as ours," said Rogers. "They're the type of team that causes us problems. They're real disciplined, they're physical and they don't make a lot of mistakes."
Dexter's only change will include the addition of Cape Central, who replaces East Prairie in Week 5.
Dexter had beaten East Prairie nine of the 10 games the two played when the series was renewed in 1993.
The Bearcats haven't played Cape Central since 1978, and the two have only played nine times ever.
Six of the games were from 1990-1935 and three occurred from 1976-1978. The Tigers won all nine matchups.
The Bearcats replaced Graves County, Ky., on the Tigers' schedule.
"Graves County was a good game for us," said Cape Central head coach Lawrence Brookins. "Out of the three years we played them we only beat them last year. All the games were close. We kind of hate to see those guys go, that was good football for us."
Brookins said he was just pleased to fill the date, let alone with a game that will generate local interest.
"Yeah, that's a good pickup for us," said Brookins. "A lot of folks in this area know each other. Dexter's not that far away. You might have some of the same feel you have when we play Jackson or Sikeston, with folks that know each other so well."
Jackson lost Graves County from its schedule also but wasn't able to fill it in Week 4.
"We beat two football teams last year, Graves County and Poplar Bluff," said Jackson head football coach Carl Gross. "Graves County dropped us and Poplar Bluff was very young. So we're still trying to figure out what football game we can win."
Poplar Bluff filled its open date in Week 5 with Kansas City Southeast. The game will be played on a Saturday at 1 p.m. The Mules got Southeast to replace Liberty, the Class 6 power that handed the Mules a 52-7 loss last year in Week 5.
Caruthersville replaced Anna-Jonesboro (Ill.) with Lone Oak in Week 1.
Portageville did lose Bruceton (Tenn.) from its schedule, but the Bulldogs were able to replace them with Fulton City (Ky.).
Fulton City is one of the smallest football schools in the state of Kentucky with an enrollment of 172. The Bulldogs were 2-8 last year.
Portageville owed its only loss of the regular season to Bruceton last year 28-7.
"We were hoping Bruceton would come over here but they weren't interested in making the trip to Missouri," said Portageville head coach Jim McKay.
Although they did find a replacement for Bruceton, Portageville was still unsuccessful in finding a game for Week 1.
"I hate having an open date on the first week," said McKay. "Coach (Jim) Bidewell, our athletic director, called and called and we just couldn't find anybody. It's hard to find a team to play that first week."
East Prairie has an open date where Dexter had been slated in Week 5. The Eagles also picked up Piggott (Ark.) in place of Cairo (Ill.) in Week 2.
"Piggott has had about the same record as we've had the last couple of years," said East Prairie head coach Brett Blackman. "I think it will be a better matchup for us. We're going to run the ball probably 60 percent of the time and they've traditionally been a running team too. It's a good matchup for both our programs because we're kind of in the same position."
East Prairie's game with Fulton County (Ky.) in Week 4 has been pushed up one day to Saturday at 3 p.m. for Homecoming purposes.