SIKESTON - When the Perryville Pirates meet the Sikeston Bulldogs at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday at Sikeston Public Schools Stadium, there won't be any district or conference titles on the line.
Neither team is playing for the right to go to the playoffs.
But both will be taking the field for pride.
The Pirates have struggled for the second straight year, posting a 2-7 record.
Sikeston on the other hand was the favorite in the district heading in, but a rash of injuries at the worst possible time derailed the Sikeston train.
The Bulldogs will now just try to finish with a winning record.
"Just like I mentioned the other night, this game is just as important as any of them," said Sikeston head coach Charlie Vickery. "It's one-tenth of our season. I think it's important to go out with a win and a winning record at 6-4 instead of being 5-5. I expect us to prepare just like we prepared for every other game this year."
Perryville defeated De Soto and Windsor for its only two wins. The Pirates have been defeated by an average score of 38 to 5 in their seven losses. They have been shutout four times this season.
"What I've seen on Perryville, they haven't had a lot of success obviously, but their kids play extremely hard," said Vickery. "I'm sure they're looking to finish up strong too. You've got to look at every team as a tough opponent. We're trying to go into this game with the idea that we want to take care of ourselves first and play as good as we can possibly play."
The Pirates are led by sophomore running back Jesse Whistler, who has gained about 500 yards rushing with four touchdowns. Quarterback Andrew Meyr has thrown for about 400 yards, but he has thrown 15 interceptions to seven touchdown passes.
Kyle Dobbelare is his favorite target, catching nearly 300 yards in passes with three touchdowns.
"They run some option and Farmington had some success running the option on us," said Vickery. "They've got a very good tailback (Whistler) that's only a sophomore. He's got good size and he does a real good job for them. They've been trying some new things and you've got to be ready for anything they might try to throw at you."
The Pirates aren't very big on the line, averaging just 203 pounds, which is an area that concerns head coach Lance Bell.
"I know they are really big up front but they lost a couple of their key starters on the line," said Bell. "It's going to be hard to run right at them. We're going to try to do some misdirection things against them. We may need to pass to set up the run. Maybe get some screens and some draws to keep their defense off balance."
Justin Lowes, who suffered a shoulder injury against Cape Central, may be ready to go this week. But Kevin Keller is out indefinitely.
Sikeston is led offensively by junior running back Lavar Morgan, who has rushed for 676 yards with seven TDs.
Quarterback Drew Lawrence had a career game last week, throwing for 192 yards against Farmington. He has 667 yards passing this year.
Andrew Lambert is the Bulldogs' top receiver, catching 12 passes for 278 yards.
"They've got some good skill position people," said Bell. "I've seen Andrew Lambert in track and he's a pretty good player. The quarterback throws some pretty good balls and (Morgan) looks like a pretty fast kid so we're going to have to contain him.
"I know 3-7 looks a lot better than 2-8. That's the goal -- we're going to try to get a win, but it's going to be tough going into the Bulldogs' house. I know they're going to be well-coached. We haven't had the best of seasons this year but it would be nice to end on a good note."
Not only is this the last game for the seniors of Perryville, but it could be the last game for the high school, period.
With the school having a money crisis, a bond issue will need to pass on Nov. 6 if Perryville High School is to keep an athletic program.
If it doesn't pass, cutbacks will be made, starting with extracurricular activities.
"Right now, if it doesn't pass then there will be no sports programs or extracurricular activities of any kind at Perryville High School," said Bell. "Hopefully our community will get out and vote to pass it. This could be everybody's last game. If (our players) can't get fired up about that, I really don't know how I'm going to get them fired up."