[Nameplate] Fair ~ 81°F  
High: 92°F ~ Low: 71°F
Monday, Aug. 29, 2016

Sikeston leery of winless Dexter

Thursday, September 19, 2002

Sikeston's Josh Monroe (1) plunges forward for a positive gain in last Friday's 24-6 win over Charleston
SIKESTON - Heading into the 2002 season, the Dexter Bearcat football team was considered a favorite to win its district and the SEMO Central Conference.

So far the Bearcats have struggled, falling to perennially strong Poplar Bluff on a last-second field goal and losing last week to Arkansas power Gosnell.

On Friday night at 7:30 at Sikeston Public Schools Stadium, Dexter will try to post its first win when they take on the Bulldogs.

Sikeston (2-0) has posted two impressive wins against Jackson and rival Charleston. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 10 in the MSHSAA Class 4 poll and they are ranked No. 3 in the Southeast Missouri regional poll.

Dexter, despite its 0-2 start, is ranked No. 10 in the regional poll.

Dexter's Matt Burnett, left, attempts to juke a Gosnell defender in last week's 28-7 loss.
Sikeston head coach Charlie Vickery knows that the Bearcats aren't any ordinary 0-2 team.

"I think they have an outstanding team," said Vickery. "I think it's very deceiving that they're 0-2. I think they've played two very good football teams. Anybody that reads anything into it more than that doesn't know football very well. Dexter has an outstanding football team."

In Dexter's 24-21 loss to the Mules, the Bearcats had a chance to win the game on a 44-yard field goal but it was short. Poplar Bluff took over the ball and was able to get out of bounds with one second left to kick the game-winning 24-yard field goal.

It's the closest Dexter has come to defeating Poplar Bluff since 1989.

In a 28-7 loss to explosive Gosnell, the Bearcats were overmatched by the Arkansas power. One anonymous source said Gosnell had "more athletes than New Madrid last year."

"I think playing teams like that will only make us better in the long run," said third year Dexter head coach Aaron Pixley. "Hopefully we can keep our heads held high and continue to get better and learn from these experiences. Sikeston is right up there with the first two teams we played. I can't really pick out who the better team would be out of those three. They're all very tough."

The Bulldogs have defeated Dexter 11 of the last 12 meetings, last losing in 1994. Since then, the Bulldogs have handily won every meeting except a 10-point win in 1999.

And Pixley thinks this Sikeston team is even more dangerous than the teams he's seen the last few years.

With quarterback Blake DeWitt, who is the best run/pass threat the Bulldogs have had behind center since Doug Wiles in '98, Pixley sees an element his team will have trouble defending.

DeWitt has thrown for 214 yards and he's rushed for 184 yards. Also serving as the team's kicker, he leads the Bulldogs with 19 points scored.

"They're more active with their quarterback than they've been in the past," said Pixley. "Like we didn't have enough to worry about with Sikeston, and now they've added a new twist. Their quarterback's a good athlete, he's very active running and throwing."

Other threats on offense are senior tailback Lavar Morgan, senior receiver Michael Colon, senior fullback Josh Monroe, senior receiver Lawrence Davis and junior receiver Scotty Keenan.

"The Morgan kid's good and they've got other kids that are good athletes that make plays for them and their line is solid," said Pixley.

Morgan has rushed for 112 yards on 32 carries with two TD runs. Keenan leads the team with three catches for 64 yards.

On defense, the Bulldogs have been pretty solid.

Other than Portageville, which has played one game, Sikeston is statistically the top defensive team in the SEMO Conference, having allowed 20 points.

But Vickery thinks it can be even better.

"We bent and didn't break against Charleston," said Vickery. "I think we'll have to have more intensity. Charleston had a few fumbles but we weren't intense enough to pick them up. Our intensity level is going to have to be higher than what it was last week."

Leading the charge on defense is junior linebacker Jacob Priday, who last week registered an unbelievable 27 tackles against Charleston, including a quarterback sack.

He had 17 tackles in Week 1 against Jackson.

Priday and the Bulldogs will try to slow down senior tailback Matt Burnett, who rushed for a school record 1,717 yards last year. He has 141 yards on 50 carries so far this season and he's already broken the school's career rushing record.

"We're going to try to slow him up and not let him have a lot of big yards," said Vickery. "We need to make him work for what he's going to get because he's going to get yards. If you key on him so much they still have the good passing game."

Three-year starting quarterback Preston Clark has passed for 277 yards, completing 18-of-57 passes with two interceptions.

Willie Dooley is his favorite target, catching seven passes for 159 yards with a score.

"Dooley's an outstanding receiver and Clark's a good quarterback," said Vickery. "They mix things up a lot more than the other two teams we've seen. We've gone against two ballclubs that are basically running teams. Dexter presents a lot of different problems than we've seen the first two games."

But as many problems as the Bearcats present, Pixley says Sikeston is just as dangerous.

"They're a very good football team," said Pixley. "We've got some things we've got to get better at in order to compete. They're well-coached and they've got good players. Hopefully we can have a good showing."