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Wednesday, Sep. 17, 2014

Bulldogs hope to finish strong

Wednesday, November 5, 2003

(Photo)
Sikeston quarterback Stephen Miller prepares to throw a pass.
SIKESTON - The 2003 football season didn't go as planned for the Sikeston Bulldogs.

Sitting at 3-5 with no shot at the playoffs, the Bulldogs will try to at least salvage some dignity on Thursday night when they host the Perryville Pirates at SPS Stadium at 7:30 in the season finale.

Even though the Bulldogs haven't reached the playoffs since 1995, they do have a good track record in the final game, winning five straight Week 10 matchups.

And most of the time in convincing fashion.

Sikeston head coach Charlie Vickery is hoping that trend will continue on Thursday.

"A lot of people don't think this is a big game, but I think it's very big for us," said Vickery. "It's big for our seniors to go out a winner, and for our juniors and sophomores to start next year on a win. We've got to get back to a winning attitude and get back on a positive note."

The Bulldogs will be facing a Perryville team that comes into the game at 3-6. Other than the two district foes, the only common opponent between Sikeston and Perryville is Farmington.

The Bulldogs beat Farmington 33-27 in triple overtime while Perryville fell to the Knights 14-9.

But after that loss, Perryville ripped off three straight wins against favored teams, beating Windsor (49-35), Hillsboro (35-20) and DeSoto (27-26).

The Pirates are under new leadership with first year head coach Rick Chastain.

"I think our kids have really come a long ways this year," said Chastain. "I think the last two or three years (Perryville had) won two games. We've won three games this year, that's nothing to brag about too much, but nevertheless it was improvement. I think we're right on track. We've got a lot of young kids and I think we'll be there the next few years."

Another score that stands out for the Pirates was a 24-17 setback to undefeated and state ranked Herculaneum in Week 1.

Perryville lost 35-14 in their district opener to Poplar Bluff and were thumped 42-0 by Cape Central last week.

"I think they're a team on the rise for one thing," said Vickery. "We told our kids this week that Perryville has nothing more to shoot for than what we do. It's just a game for pride."

Sikeston has had great success against Perryville as they lead the all-time series 31-12-2. Since coaching at Sikeston, Vickery's teams are 9-0 against the Pirates.

"I think it's a pretty good matchup. Sikeston's probably played a little bit better competition than we have this year. But I think this is a year where they've been a little down and they're going to be hungry.

This year's Pirates team will come out with a different look than some teams Sikeston has seen in the past.

"We run a wide open attack," said Chastain. "We'll do anything from using four wide receivers to double tight. Whatever the opposition gives us, that's what we like to take advantage of."

While the Bulldogs want to go out on a winning note, they also have a shot at a couple records.

Wide receiver Scotty Keenan comes into the game with 36 receptions for 692 yards.

He is only 86 yards away from the single-season school record for receiving yards (778) set by Glen Guttenfelder in 1972. He is also just six catches away from the single-season school record for receptions (42) set by Steve Ferrell in 1971.

Currently, Keenan is third on the all-time Sikeston list for single-season receptions behind Ferrell and Leven Cox's 37 in 1986.

He is also third in single-season receiving yards behind Guttenfelder and Steven Geralds' 704 yards in 1993.

Also, with a mere 371 passing yards, quarterback Stephen Miller can tie Garrett Taylor's single-season record of 1,435 yards.

Last week, Miller became Sikeston's first 1,000-yard passer since Dez Ziegenhorn in 1996.

Considering he had never played quarterback on the varsity level, Vickery considers Miller one of the season's bright spots.

"He's really done well -- he's been a warrior for us," said Vickery. "He's had to do a lot. We've asked him to run the ball, he's run the ball tough. That's a tough spot to put him into. He'd never taken a varsity snap in his entire career, and to throw you in against the type teams we play -- I think he's performed extremely well all year long."

The Bulldogs are still beat up with injuries. All-state linebacker Jacob Priday will once again play defense only, keeping him out of his valuable role as a blocking fullback.

"We'll probably just use him defensively," said Vickery. "His shoulder's still banged up. We need him more defensively even though he's a huge loss on the offense side."

Sophomores Acie Dixon (fullback) and Travis Hudson, who started for the injured Apollo Patterson last week, will start again this week.

Strong safety Bryce Wibbenmeyer, who intercepted two passes in his first start last week, will get the call once again.

"Wibb's got really good vision back there," said Vickery. "He broke on the ball and read the quarterback's eyes well. The Bluff quarterback came in with four interceptions up to that ballgame. We had three picks against him, Wibb had two and Jake had one."

Vickery is also hoping last week's effort, despite a deceiving 42-3 score, will carry over into this week.

"I really didn't think that score was indicative of the way we played," said Vickery. "You go back to the third quarter and it was 21-3, we had two chances right at the 10 and didn't get anything, so it could've possibly been a 21-17 game going into the fourth quarter."

On paper, the Pirates defense has been shredded all season, giving up an average of 32 points per game. They've allowed at least 30 points or more on five occasions, including 63 against North County.

Perryville averages 19.7 points per game on offense.