MALDEN - Despite identical 1-3 records, the Charleston Bluejays and the Malden Green Wave have been on different paths.
Charleston is coming off an emotional come-from-behind 35-32 win against SEMO Central rival New Madrid County Central, while Malden is riding a three-game losing streak after defeating Scott City in the season opener.
Charleston is looking to keep its momentum going on Friday night when it travels to Malden for a 7:30 matchup.
"Our kids showed me that we can be a good football team," said Charleston head coach Brent Anderson after the NMCC game. "(It is) the type of game that makes kids believe they are a good football team."
The Bluejays have been led by tailback Orrice Stanback, Southeast Missouri's leading rusher with 837 yards.
The senior rushed 41 times for 269 yards with four touchdowns, all career highs, last week against NMCC.
"The kid wants the football," said Anderson. "He doesn't care how he gets it, he doesn't care where he gets it. He wants to carry this football team."
The Green Wave just made it through the toughest part of their schedule, facing off with No. 2 ranked Hayti in Class 1, defending state Class 2 champion John Burroughs and an improved Class 3 Dexter squad. They lost to all three by a combined score of 100-34. Despite Charleston's 1-3 record, Malden head coach Kevin Collier is just as leery of the Bluejays as he was the aforementioned opponents.
"Everybody on our schedule can beat us," said Collier. "Charleston's been steadily improving during the course of the year. Yeah, they're 1-3, but we've seen them in three games and they've improved each week. That was a huge win for Charleston, beating a talented New Madrid team."
But Malden has some talent of its own. The Green Wave feature plenty of speed and athleticism in Karrington Rogers, Jamall Kilgore and big, 240-pound fullback John Sutton. The three have combined to rush for 610 yards with six TDs, and they have combined to catch 10 passes for 198 yards.
Quarterback Scott Matthews is dangerous with his legs and his arm, having thrown for 250 yards.
The Green Wave have the home field advantage, a place Charleston hasn't won since 1996.
Plus Malden has won five of the last six meetings with Charleston, including a playoff matchup two years ago.
But Collier says his team's strong recent history against the Bluejays won't have anything to do with Friday night.
"Charleston is very well-coached," said Collier. "They're playing real powerful football right now. Their offensive and defensive lines are doing well. It's going to be a tough game. They present a similar problem that Dexter did, they play power football except they throw in a little option. That means we've got to play our responsibilities."
After Stanback, the Bluejays' top rusher is quarterback A.H. Marshall, who has 36 carries for 96 yards.
Marshall has thrown for 264 yards, completing 15-of-38 passes this year. Deshaundray Hamilton and Nelson French have been his top targets, catching nine of those passes for 206 yards. Stanback has one catch for eight yards, but as Collier knows, stopping Stanback on the ground will be Priority 1.
"They've got one of the best running backs around," said Collier. "We'll try to blitz here and there and hopefully stop him before he gets loose on us."