NEW MADRID - When New Madrid County Central made the long trip to Farmington last season, most expected the No. 2 state-ranked Knights to hand the Eagles their first loss of the year.
Instead, NMCC shocked everybody and rolled past Farmington in a 34-0 win.
The Knights, once again state-ranked at No. 8 in Class 4A, will try to bury that bitter defeat when they meet the Eagles, who are also ranked No. 8 in Class 3A, on Friday night at NMCC High School at 7:30.
Both teams enter the game 2-0 with impressive victories on their resumes. NMCC shutout Blytheville (Ark.) 28-0 and defeated Cape Central 28-20 on the road.
Farmington blasted Potosi 47-0 and defeated arch rival North County 21-17 on the road.
NMCC head coach Steve Rogers says Farmington will try to atone for last year's whipping.
"If anything, that should fuel their fire a little bit," said Rogers. "Most of those guys were there and I'm sure they remember that game and are still kind of smarting from it a little bit. I'm sure they're using that as some incentive to do better this time around."
While Farmington has respect among the pollsters, the Knights are looking to gain a measure of respect around Southeast Missouri with a strong performance on Friday.
"It's a game that if we lose we'll be out of the rankings," said Farmington head coach Mike Thebeau. "We don't have a major rivalry with them, New Madrid's just a good football team. We had our big rival game last week (against North County)."
In last year's game, NMCC moved the ball at will while the slower Knights managed just 153 yards of offense against the Eagle defense.
"Hopefully we'll play better and not get embarrassed," said Thebeau. "Hopefully we'll tackle better and move the football better. Everything they did was successful. They ran it, they threw it and they shut us out. They really have great team speed. We can't coach against that. That's God-given talent that they have and we just can't do anything about it."
NMCC plays five non-conference schools that have a higher enrollment. Rogers says his team delights in beating up on the bigger schools.
NMCC has won nine straight games against non-conference 4A and 5A schools, last losing to Sikeston in 1998.
"We like playing the spoiler or the giant killer or whatever you want to call it, and we enjoy the challenge," said Rogers. "We probably play the toughest 3A schedule in the state of Missouri. We're on a pretty good role right now, we've beaten a 4A and a 5A school, and this is a state-ranked 4A school. It's at our place and our deal is, 'this is our house and nobody comes in and pushes us around.'"
NMCC is led by running back Dereke Tipler, who has carried 32 times for 168 yards with a pair of scores. Desmond Sims, a highly recruited wide receiver, has caught two passes for 74 yards, both for touchdowns.
Brian Murph is a multi-dimensional quarterback, rushing for 68 yards with two TDs and throwing for 257 yards and three TDs.
Wide receiver Terrance Smith has caught two passes for 107 yards with one score.
Farmington is led by running backs Mike Hahn, (former Sikeston resident) Dustin Wiles and Dallas Bryant.
Barry Watson calls the shots at quarterback while Chris Hayes is the squad's top receiving threat. The Knights are big up front with an offensive line that averages 234 pounds.
"Their size concerns us and their backfield is improved from last year," said Rogers. "They try to power behind their big tackles. They're like everyone we've played so far, they're quite a bit bigger than us. I was impressed with their running backs, their quarterback throws the ball pretty well. Their defense looks improved from last year. It's going to be a good ballgame."