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Sunday, Apr. 20, 2014

Injury-plagued Bulldogs looking to rebound on the road at Farmington

Thursday, October 25, 2001

FARMINGTON - When a team loses its first game in the first week of district play, it usually spells doom for the season.

About the only thing left to play for is pride.

Although their chances are slim, the Sikeston Bulldogs will try to keep their district title hopes alive with a win on Friday night at Farmington.

The game is scheduled to kickoff at 7 p.m.

The Bulldogs lost 32-9 to Cape Central last Thursday, pushing them back to minus-13 in the district standings.

For the Bulldogs to have a chance, they will have to defeat Farmington and Perryville by 13 or more points, and Cape Central will have to lose by 13 or more to either Perryville or Farmington.

The Tigers play at Perryville at 7 p.m. on Friday.

Since the playoff format has been set up in its current form, Sikeston has only won the district championship one time after losing its first game.

That came in 1991, after falling to Cape Central 21-7, the Bulldogs bounced back with 13-point wins over Poplar Bluff (41-28) and Vianney (13-0) to win the title. Poplar Bluff beat the Tigers (28-0) in Week 10, giving Sikeston the edge in the complicated points system.

The Tiger Boyd-led Bulldogs went on to fall to No. 2 ranked Mehlville 30-24 in a 5A state sectional game.

Now, with Farmington on tap for Friday, the 2001 Bulldogs will attempt to become the second team to accomplish the feat.

But Charlie Vickery and his club are focusing on the task at hand, rather than worrying about scoreboard watching.

"We haven't talked about the playoffs at all," said Vickery. "All we've talked about is playing good and playing up to our potential. Each game is big and it shouldn't matter whether it's a playoff game, a district game or a regular season game. We can't control what we do in the district. We only have 10 games and each game is an important one. We're approaching it like we have every game this season."

Since Sikeston dropped to Class 4A in 1998, the Knights have defeated Sikeston three straight times. This year's Farmington squad will again field a strong team, posting a 7-1 record this year.

"They're another very good team," said Vickery. "They're big and physical. They're 7-1 and they've played some real good football up to this point. They like to ram the ball at you and we're just going to have to be ready for that."

The Bulldogs will have to try to stop the Knights without two of their three captains, senior linemen Kevin Keller (knee) and Justin Lowes (shoulder). Neither is expected to return this season.

Up until being injured (Keller against Roosevelt and Lowes in the first quarter against Cape Central), the two were dominating football games, putting together all-state caliber seasons.

"We've got two outstanding football players that are out, but that's football," said Vickery. "It's a physical game and you're going to have injuries along the way. We're just going to have the opportunity for somebody to step up and play well."

The Knights are led junior running back Dallas Bryant, who has rushed for 717 yards on 96 carries with nine touchdowns.

Mike Hahn has 514 yards on 77 carries with eight TDs and Caleb Smith has rushed for 325 yards on 55 carries with five TDs.

Barry Watson is the Knights' signal-caller. He has completed 32-of-71 passes for 505 yards with five scores and four interceptions.

Chris Hayes is his favorite target, catching 17 passes for 328 yards with four scores.

Hahn leads the team with 70 tackles while former Sikeston resident Dustin Wiles has 42 tackles.

The Bulldogs are led on offense by junior running back Lavar Morgan, who has gained 585 yards on 124 carries this year. Quarterback Drew Lawrence has completed 34-of-65 passes for 475 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions.

Backup Blake DeWitt has completed 9-of-25 for 129 yards. He threw for 114 last week against Cape Central in about three minutes of action.

Kyle Duncan, who has been nursing a muscle injury in his leg the last three weeks, should be close to full strength for the Bulldogs. He leads the team with 80 tackles.

With Lowes and Keller out, tri-captain Myron Hardin will anchor the line. He has 37 tackles and six sacks.

Andrew Lambert has had a monster season as a defensive back and as a kicker. He has snared seven interceptions and he is perfect on extra points (17-for-17) while booting 6-of-7 field goals.

He's also the team's leading receiver with 181 yards on seven catches.

Sikeston and Farmington have just one common opponent so far in New Madrid County Central. The Eagles handed the Knights their only loss this year, 28-13 in Week 3. Sikeston defeated NMCC 25-14 in Week 6.