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Sunday, Sep. 21, 2014

COLUMN - How You Finish Is What Counts

Wednesday, October 17, 2001

In 1983, Chaffee's football team lost two of its first three games in the regular season.

But instead of cashing in the chips and rebuilding for '84, head coach Mick Wessel and the Red Devils responded by rattling off 10 consecutive wins.

The team wasn't remembered for losing to Malden and Portageville early in the year. After all, it's not how you start the season -- its how you finish.

Chaffee went on to become the only state champion Southeast Missouri has seen since the current format was put into place.

Starting Thursday, all 15 teams in the SEMO Conference will have an opportunity to become state champion No. 2 as district play begins and regular season records disappear.

Now that the tuneup is over, it's time for the real race to begin. Here's how I see the first week unfolding:

* Last year Cape Central entered Week 8 with a 3-4 record, then went on to win 4A District 1. Can we expect a repeat performance as they enter Thursday's game with the same record?

Don't bet the farm on it.

Last year Cape Central had a guy by the name of T.J. Erlacker. With him and a strong defense, the Tigers were able to shut out Sikeston 23-0.

But that Bulldog team didn't have a guy by the name of Lavar Morgan.

Final score: Sikeston 28, Cape Central 20

Vianney is a futbol school, not a football school. The Golden Griffins might be golden on the corner kicks and head butts, but they're not as tough on the gridiron.

Gene Gladstone's boys are currently 2-5 against a very good schedule, but they shouldn't pose much of a threat to the almighty JAX.

Vianney might have a shot if it were a punt, pass & kick competition.

Final score: Jackson 36, Vianney 7

Francis Howell might be glad to see Poplar Bluff, considering their last two games have been against Zumwalt South and Zumwalt West.

Although they're just 3-4, the Vikings on their own turf will be tough for the Mules to beat. Poplar Bluff will be up to the task.

Final score: Poplar Bluff 21, Francis Howell 14

Last week the Eagles found a way to get the ball to Dereke Tipler and Desmond Sims on a regular basis. That's not good news for the rest of the teams in 3A District 1.

Final score: NMCC 35, Dexter 6

After a couple of good seasons, it appears as if Fredericktown has returned to form.

The Blackcats are currently 2-5, beating just Chaffee and Potosi.

Although they've made noticeable improvement over the last two weeks, they don't have the firepower to keep up with Kennett.

Final score: Kennett 42, Fredericktown 20

The Mineral Area thought coach Dan Ridgeway was the greatest thing since sliced bread after Crystal City opened the year with two wins.

But then Hayti came along and removed the Hornets' stinger in Week 3 with a 30-0 shutout.

Since then, Crystal City has lost four straight by a combined score of 71 to 18.

Still, this looks like Charleston's biggest challenge in the district.

Final score: Charleston 25, Crystal City 12

Both Malden and Caruthersville are better teams than their records indicate.

The winner of this game will play Portageville for the 2A District 1 crown.

Final score: Malden 21, Caruthersville 20

This is not your average St. Vincent team.

The Indians are 4-3 and appear to be a darkhorse in the district they've dominated. Still, tradition counts for something this time of year.

Final score: St. Vincent 28, Chaffee 14

All East Prairie can hope is that Portageville lost some steam with last week's open date.

This district matchup had +13 written all over it.

Final score: Portageville 33, East Prairie 7

All year long, people have tabbed Valle Catholic as Hayti's biggest challenger for the 1A District 1 title.

The Warriors are an impressive 5-2 with understandable losses to Ste. Genevieve and Park Hills Central.

But Hayti is the hands down favorite in this district. Valle hasn't seen this kind of speed all year.

Final score: Hayti 30, Valle 16

As one might expect, Grandview hasn't exactly fielded a state-championship caliber team this season.

The Eagles are 0-7 and appear to be even worst than last year's team.

Final score: Scott City 35, Grandview 14