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Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

COLUMN - POPLAR BLUFF THROWS A LEFT HOOK... AND DOWN GOES JACKSON

Wednesday, October 31, 2001

The two best teams in the SEMO Conference smash helmets this Friday in the most anticipated game of the year.

As expected Jackson enters with a 9-0 record, outscoring its opponents 41 to 9. The Indians were supposed to be outstanding this year, and they've done nothing but live up to those lofty expectations so far.

Every week you hear about Super Mario and the boys beating the tar out of somebody.

Jackson's media coverage has been superb, and very well deserved, but are they really the juggernaut everyone is making them out to be?

Let's not forget they put up these numbers against the likes of Sumner, Perryville, Graves County, Parkway North and Hillsboro.

We'll find out exactly what this highly-touted team is made of when an unranked, underrated Poplar Bluff team comes to town for the 5A District 1 championship.

The Mules are 8-1 against a slightly better schedule, and have an excellent shot of upsetting the almighty JAX in my opinion. I made this bold prediction at the beginning of the year when it seemed highly unlikely, and I'm sticking to my guns.

Except now it doesn't seem like such a longshot. The Mules did it last season with an outstanding senior class, and they're going to do it again with this new group of talent.

Running back Bob Larkins, receivers Brent Little and Tony Webb, and quarterback Michael Crunk give Poplar Bluff a balanced offense, and the defense has been their calling card.

Jackson is just fine and dandy on offense, and their defensive linemen and linebackers rank among the best in the area. But their secondary may be suspect.

They made an average Vianney quarterback look like Snake Stabler two weeks ago, allowing 242 passing yards.

Considering Bluff's vaunted air assault, Crunk may end up looking like Johnny U by the time this one's over. Good luck finding a seat, or even a place to stand.

Final score: Poplar Bluff 21, Jackson 20

Cape Central hosts Farmington Thursday for the 4A District 1 crown. The Knights boast a record of 8-1 heading in, but the Tigers shouldn't be too concerned. Farmington is a smashmouth team that loves to use its size and pound it right at you. But the "three yards and a cloud of dust" theory doesn't work against Cape Central. With Chris Smith and Jeremiah Dukes anchoring the middle, the Tiger defense will force Farmington to find another way to move the ball.

Final score: Cape Central 21, Farmington 8

Perryville was undefeated just three years ago, but my how times have changed. The Pirates have struggled this year, and are almost certain to end Sikeston's season on a high note Thursday. The only thing the Bulldogs should be concerned about is getting beat on garbage plays. Perryville's football program is on the ropes. They've got nothing to lose, and will probably try anything. None of it will work.

Final score: Sikeston 36, Perryville 0

Portageville is one win away from making one of the greatest one-year turnarounds in our area's history. After going winless last season, the Bulldogs have come full circle and now look to win the 2A District 1 title Friday night. Regardless of what happens in the future, Jim McKay is a lock for Coach of the Year honors if he can just beat struggling Caruthersville in two days.

Final score: Portageville 36, Caruthersville 6

Is there another team in the area that can allow 34 points and still win by 31? The Eagles should have no problem with Fredericktown Friday night. Like the old days, expect another sectional showdown with Ste. Genevieve.

Final score: NMCC 40, Fredericktown 6

The Bluejays are 7-2, losing to Sikeston and NMCC. Scott City is 3-6, losing to East Prairie and Malden. Any questions?

Final score: Charleston 30, Scott City 7

Heading into the season, Chaffee's only goal was to improve on back-to-back 3-7 seasons. The best they can do now is tie that mark, and it's not likely against the second best team in 1A District 1. The Red Devils will finish 2-8.

Final score: Valle 35, Chaffee 14

This might be the toughest pick of the week. Kennett has a better offense, but Dexter has a much better defense. The Bearcats are playing for their first winning season since 1989, and they're going to get it.

Final score: Dexter 28, Kennett 20

The much-improved Green Wave will definitely find win No. 4 at East Prairie Friday night. The Eagles never recovered from a Week 6 loss to Chaffee, losing their last three games by a combined score of 124 to 6.

Final score: Malden 41, East Prairie 14

Hayti has never had an undefeated regular season, not even the state finalist team in 1984 was able to do it. This team will.

Final score: Hayti 40, St. Vincent 8