For area high school football teams, the slate has been wiped clean. Tonight's game at Cape Central signifies the opening of district play, giving every team in the state an opportunity to qualify for the playoffs, regardless of win/loss records.
A four-team, round-robin format will be used over these final three weekends of the season to determine who will be district champions. Here is a look at some district races in our area.
JACKSON, like last year, has run the table against a weaker schedule. But regardless, the Indians have done it impressively, and they are currently ranked No. 7 in the state with a perfect 7-0 record.
They have trailed in only one game this year, 7-6 in Week 1 against Sikeston. No team has come within 21 points of them, and they have posted four shutouts this year.
Jackson is led by All-America candidate Mario Whitney at tailback, who leads all of Southeast Missouri with 1,535 yards on just 125 carries with 27 TDs. The senior, who has verbally committed to the University of Missouri, is averaging a mind-boggling 12 yards per carry.
There are two games before it, but everybody is pointing to the rematch between the Indians and Poplar Bluff in Week 10.
But first, Jackson will open district play by hosting Vianney (2-5) this Friday night at 7:30.
VIANNEY isn't known for its football success, but more for its soccer. The Golden Griffins are averaging just 13 points per game, posting two wins over lowly Fox and DeSmet.
If Vianney is to pull an upset, running back Brandon Holland (99 carries, 419 yards) and wide receiver Tom Mulvihill (14 catches, 309 yards) will have to carry the load.
In the other 5A District 1 matchup, Poplar Bluff (6-1) will travel to Francis Howell (3-4) on Friday night at 7:00.
POPLAR BLUFF has played a slightly tougher schedule than Jackson, but they still have had success, winning all but one.
The Mules graduated record-setting quarterback Stan Revelle but Michael Crunk has filled his shoes nicely. He's second in the area in passing with 1,070 yards.
Brent Little and Tony Webb are his favorite targets, combining to catch 36 passes for 876 yards.
Bob Larkins is a punishing running back that makes the offense go, rushing for 746 yards this year.
The Mules were able to upset Jackson last year, but this year it will be in Indian Country.
FRANCIS HOWELL, a former power, has fallen on hard times the last two years. They are under .500 again, losing two in a row heading into district play.
The Knights are led by quarterback Caleb Hallemeier, wide receiver Chris Barklage and linebacker Doug Karrenbrock.
SIKESTON was thrust into the favorite role in this district after pulling off a stunning upset of 3A power New Madrid County Central in Week 6.
The Bulldogs have not experienced the playoffs since 1995, and their status as the favorite is shaky considering they must win road games at Cape Central and Farmington.
But since a season-opening loss to Jackson, the Bulldogs have performed well, winning five games and narrowly falling to Poplar Bluff 8-6 in Week 5.
Sikeston (5-2) is led by an outstanding defense and solid special teams.
Defensive linemen Justin Lowes and Myron Hardin have hounded quarterbacks all season while the linebackers and secondary have played tremendous all year.
Offensively, the Bulldogs have been energized by the surprising emergence of junior running back Lavar Morgan, who leads the team with 537 yards on 110 carries.
Sikeston will open district play tonight at Cape Central (3-4) at 7:00 at Houck Stadium.
CAPE CENTRAL was the surprising district champion last year after starting the season 3-4. They will try to prove that it wasn't a fluke.
Again, the Tigers enter district play with a 3-4 record, but they have played a brutal schedule.
Running backs Marcus Klund and Monroe Hicks have carried the load on offense. They are also exceptional defensive backs for the Tigers.
Defensive lineman Chris Smith (6-foot-2, 315 pounds) is a dominating presence.
In the other 4A District 1 matchup, Perryville (2-5) will play at Farmington (6-1) on Friday at 7 p.m.
FARMINGTON has again posted an outstanding record heading into the district, winning six and losing only to NMCC in Week 3.
Other than that, only one other team has seriously challenged the Knights, that being rival North County in a 21-17 loss in Week 2.
The Knights are led by former Sikeston resident Dustin Wiles, who starts both ways as a fullback and a linebacker.
PERRYVILLE, after reaching the playoffs in 1998, is possibly on the verge of canceling all athletic programs due to a lack of funds.
Still, the Pirates are improved from last year's 1-9 team, defeating De Soto and Windsor last Friday.
The Pirates are led by fullback Dan Zahner and tailback Jesse Whistler.
NEW MADRID COUNTY CENTRAL has a stranglehold on 3A District 1, winning it the last six seasons. Don't expect that streak to end this year.
Standing with a record of 6-1, the Eagles are the overwhelming favorite to win the district again.
With running backs Dereke Tipler, Desmond Sims and quarterback Brian Murph, NMCC offers up one of the most athletic backfields in the state.
The Eagles' offense is averaging 36 points per game, while their tough defense is allowing just 14 on average. Defensive leader Lionel Smith, nose guard Issac Smith, guard Tim Chism, and lineman Terry Long are all expected to return after missing Week 7 due to injuries. Tight end Derrell Minner is questionable.
NMCC will host Dexter (4-3) in the opening week of districts this Friday at 7:30 p.m.
DEXTER is coached by former NMCC assistant Aaron Pixley, who is in his second year with the team. The Bearcats have been inconsistent this year, but seem to be improved from a year ago.
Workhorse Matt Burnett is the heart and soul of Dexter's offense, scoring 96 of the team's 177 points.
He has carried the ball an astounding 190 times, rushing for 1,162 yards.
Defensively, the Bearcats have been outstanding against teams their size or smaller, allowing just 32 points in five games. In the other 3A District 1 matchup, Kennett (3-4) travels to Fredericktown (2-5). The game will be played Friday at 7 p.m.
KENNETT has been somewhat of a disappointment, but has enough talent to make a run at the district title.
The Indians have an excellent quarterback in Nathan Baker and an outstanding receiver in Dustin Pritchett. Both statistically rank among the top players in the area. Speedy running back Tyree Goolsby also has big-play potential.
FREDERICKTOWN has struggled this season, but has shown improvement in recent weeks.
After a respectable showing against state-ranked Herculaneum, the Blackcats managed to score 21 points on Ste. Genevieve and 13 on undefeated Park Hills Central.
Running back Kyle Stephens and tight end Cory Cissell lead the offense, while the defense is headed by defensive back Aaron Proffer and linebacker Jon Clauser.
PORTAGEVILLE has been the biggest surprise of the season, following up the nightmare of 2000 with what has been an outstanding 2001 campaign. The Bulldogs are the team to beat this year in 2A District 1.
Led by running back Dantwan Chillers, Portageville has been able to run over people this season, losing to just Gosnell (39-20) and Hayti (14-6). Hayti is 7-0, and no other team has come within 24 points of them. Gosnell is also 7-0 in Arkansas.
The Bulldogs are averaging 32 points per game and allowing just 10 on average. For the first week of districts, they host East Prairie (1-6) this Friday at 7:30 p.m.
EAST PRAIRIE has been hit by a rash of injuries, and has lost several games that could've gone either way.
Josh Boyer is the team's top offensive threat, rushing for 574 yards on 133 carries with six TDs. Quarterback Matt Boyer has thrown for 362 yards on 32-of-84 passing with two TDs.
The Eagles' defense has played admirably well in all but two games, but their offense has never gotten on track, scoring just 82 points all year.
In the other district game, Malden (2-5) travels to Caruthersville (1-6) Friday for a 7:30 p.m. game.
MALDEN appears to be Portageville's biggest threat this year. The two schools have a storied rivalry, and the Green Wave have been improving game to game.
Bruising fullback John Sutton leads the charge, rushing for 574 yards on 114 carries. Jamall Kilgore plays various positions and is another key contributor. Also, Karrington Rogers returned to the lineup last week, giving Malden an extra weapon.
This year the Green Wave have scored 112 points and allowed 191.
CARUTHERSVILLE has struggled all year, but showed its potential in an upset win over St. Vincent for its only win. The Tigers are led by running backs Jimmy Jackson (71-269) and Chris Springer (35-143).
Quarterback Van Ausdall has completed just six passes this season while throwing five interceptions.
Defensively, Caruthersville has allowed 279 points while putting up just 66.
CHARLESTON once again headlines this district, posting its best record (5-2) at this juncture of the season since 1996.
The defending champion Bluejays are one of the fastest teams in the area, regardless of classification.
Led by a dynamite trio of skill people in Jordy Mixon, Dontay Clark and Orrice Stanback, the Bluejays possess as much talent as any team in the district.
The injury plagued Mixon leads the team with 774 yards, Stanback has 618 and Clark has 512 at the quarterback position. Clark leads the team with 10 TDs.
The Bluejays open district play with a road game at Crystal City (2-5) at 7:30 p.m.
CRYSTAL CITY started the year on fire, winning its first two games. But they followed that up with five straight losses, four of them being shutouts.
The Hornets were supposed to be a district contender this year after returning several key players from last year's team.
Defensive end Brian Bloodworth, linebacker Corey Brewer and running back Dane DeRousse will lead the charge for the Hornets.
In the other district matchup, Scott City (2-5) travels to Grandview (0-7) on Friday night at 7:00.
SCOTT CITY is having its toughest year since 1982, and they are entering district play with one of its worst records ever (2-5).
Still, the Rams are only two years removed from back-to-back district championships. They are still one of the favorites to challenge Charleston for the crown.
Scott City is led by running back Brad Glenn, who is among the area leaders in rushing with 841 yards.
GRANDVIEW has been a basement team in the district for several years -- and this season looks to be no different as the Eagles enter district play with an 0-7 record.
The Eagles have cracked double figures in points just twice. Their closest game was in Week 1 in a 16-8 loss to Class 1A Chaffee.
If Grandview can't pull out a miracle, they will try to play the spoiler role. They are led by tight end Sean Dugan, quarterback Dan Freihaut and linebacker Scott McKinney.
HAYTI has lived up to all the hype so far, rolling to a 7-0 record. Currently ranked fourth in Missouri 1A, no other team in 1A District 1 seems to be on the same level.
Quarterback Matt Morgan has been outstanding, throwing for 912 yards with 14 TDs. He has also rushed for 236 yards, scoring two TDs.
Demarcus Stewart is the team's top rusher, gaining 600 yards on 103 carries.
William Moore has caught 18 passes for 420 yards and seven TDs.
For the first week of districts, Hayti will travel to Valle Catholic (5-2) in Perryville Friday for a 7 p.m. game.
VALLE seems to be Hayti's biggest threat. The Warriors two losses came against Ste. Genevieve and unbeaten Park Hills Central. They have been fairly impressive in the rest of their games.
Quarterback Patrick Odneal lead the offense. Receiver Adam Bova is his favorite target.
Running back Jason Lurk is the team's top ground gainer. Valle has is averaging 19 points per game and allowing 14. In the other 1A District 1 game, Chaffee (2-5) plays host to St. Vincent (4-3) on Friday at 7:30 p.m.
CHAFFEE has played a few teams tough this season, but has beaten just struggling Grandview and East Prairie.
Jeremy Hahn leads the team in rushing with 691 yards on 153 carries, scoring six TDs.
Jeremy Daunemueller has 266 yards on the ground.
Quarterback Derrick Uhrahan has thrown for 421 yards and four TDs.
James Reischman is his favorite target, catching 17 passes for 235 yards.
The Red Devils are averaging 16 points a game and giving up 29.
ST. VINCENT is not the powerhouse it has been in the past, but the Indians are still formidable in the district.
After being upset by Caruthersville in Week 6, St. Vincent rebounded with a convincing win over Crystal City.
Running back Adam Bockman, tackle Matt Zoellner and linebacker Chris Meyer lead the team.
On the year St. Vincent has scored 129 points and allowed 91.