PERRYVILLE - The Perryville Pirates are one of the Bulldogs' most mysterious foes of the 2002 season.
Although the Pirates' 2-7 record won't scare anybody, it's the way they've done it that has caught Sikeston head coach Charlie Vickery's attention.
The Bulldogs will see first hand what the Pirates are all about in a rare Thursday game tomorrow at Perryville High School at 7:30 p.m.
The Pirates' only wins have come against Windsor (14-7) and DeSoto (19-14). But they took Class 4 power North County to the brink of an upset before losing 13-0. They also narrowly lost to Farmington 8-7.
"I think it's just inconsistency," said Vickery, who has a personal 8-0 record against the Pirates at Sikeston. "They basically had Farmington beat, but Farmington scored and went for the two-point conversion and won it. So they're very capable of playing some good football. They're a team to be reckoned with for sure."
By comparison, the Bulldogs beat Farmington 14-7 on a goal line stand with seconds remaining.
There are only two other common opponents in Poplar Bluff and Cape Central. The Pirates lost to both, 42-14 and 29-13 respectively while Sikeston lost to Cape 30-13 but defeated the Mules 33-16 last week.
The Poplar Bluff game was perhaps the Bulldogs' best performance of the year as they set season-highs in total yards (309) and points (33) while shutting down the Mule passing attack.
The Bulldog offense came alive in last week's game with quarterback Blake DeWitt leading the way with 145 yards rushing on 15 carries. The junior leads the team with 522 yards and nine touchdowns.
He's thrown for 621 yards with three touchdowns and five interceptions.
Senior tailback Lavar Morgan follows up with 471 yards rushing with six touchdowns.
"We're going to have to mix it up and move the ball on them," said Vickery. "They've been pretty good against the run and we haven't been real great with the run. So we're going to have to be able to run the ball to set up the pass a little bit."
Sikeston's defense has been led by Jacob Priday, who has registered 157 tackles with two sacks and four interceptions. Safety Tori Rose has 75 tackles and DeWitt, who plays linebacker, leads the team with six sacks while notching 74 tackles.
Perryville's offense is a smashmouth style led by junior running back Jesse Whistler, a starter since his freshman year.
"Number one we've got to stop the running game," said Vickery. "They're the type of team that just lines up and says 'we're coming at you.' We're a little bit inexperienced on the defensive line and that concerns us a little bit. The Whistler kid has been a good running back for them. They're in a Wishbone set and they just try to use that size and overpower you. We're going to have to be ready to play to come out and win the ballgame."
If the Bulldogs win by 13 points or more, and if Poplar Bluff defeats Cape Central by 13 points or more, then there will be a three-way tie in Class 4, District 1. That would enforce the MSHSAA 13-Point Tie Breaker System.
If Sikeston wins and Cape Central wins, then the Tigers win the district automatically.
But Vickery isn't concerned with things he can't control -- just the task at hand.
"We got over one hump last week because we had to go 6-2 before we could go 7-2," said Vickery. "We came out last week and we were focused and actually probably played the best game we've played all year. So I'm hoping that we'll be focused again this Thursday. If we can do that and play hard then we've got an excellent shot to winning the football game. But any type of letup and I think we could be in for a long night."