The 2002 high school football season kicks off on Friday night with several intriguing matchups.
In the Northern Division of the SEMO Conference, heavyweights Sikeston and Jackson smash helmets in a battle between two of the area's top teams.
The Indians lost several key skill players to graduation, while the Bulldogs were hit hard on the line. Instead of Jackson's speed against Sikeston's size, it's going to be the other way around this year.
Jackson newcomers QB Tyler Profilet, RB Stuart McIntosh and WR Tyler Boyd turned several heads in the jamboree at Perryville.
In Sikeston's jamboree, QB Blake DeWitt threw TD passes to Jacob Priday and Michael Colon. Lavar Morgan also broke off a 20-yard run to paydirt.
It will be interesting to see what team can make plays this week, now that it really counts. Expect a slugfest.
Final score: Sikeston 21, Jackson 20
In a game that features two of the area's best running backs, Tyree Goolsby and the Kennett Indians travel to Charleston to take on Orrice Stanback and the Bluejays.
Pick your thoroughbred, this SEMO Central matchup is up for grabs. Charleston seems to have Kennett's number, but the underachieving Indians are due for a good run. This would be their most impressive win in two years.
Final score: Kennett 28, Charleston 26
This game is an early indication of just how good Dexter is going to be this year. If they can stay with the Mules, a successful season is ahead. If they find a way to beat Poplar Bluff, the Bearcat fans really have something to be excited about.
Dexter's defense is solid, but containing Tony Webb will be a challenge. And the Bearcat offense has to prove it can move the chains against a quality team.
Final score: Poplar Bluff 17, Dexter 14
Jonesboro's defense recently dominated Arkansas power Osceola in a preseason scrimmage. That's not good news for NMCC, a young team that lacks varsity experience.
On offense, the Golden Hurricanes don't sound as potent. They return talent in the backfield with RB Will Hollis and FB John Fullington, but their line is suspect. This will be a telling game for the unproven Eagles.
Final score: NMCC 22, Jonesboro 21
Last year, East Prairie was one of the few teams that wasn't embarrassed by Hayti.
Expect the same this season. The Eagles obviously don't have the horses to match the Indians touchdown for touchdown, but they can give a respectable showing.
Even Hayti coach David Gilmore may be surprised by freshman Dez Johnson's ability.
Final score: Hayti 20, East Prairie 8
The Tigers have something to prove after a poor showing in the Perryville jamboree.
St. Charles West returns a few key players from last year's 2-8 team, most notably running back Tyrell Jones, RB Brandon Williams, and LB Ryan Aubuchon.
Still, they probably can't compete with the likes of Cape Central for four quarters.
Final score: Cape Central 28, St. Charles West 7
Caruthersville has a tough opening game against Anna-Jonesboro (Ill.).
A.J. returns 11 starters from last year's playoff team, including fullback Adam Casper.
The 6-foot-2, 240-pounder rushed for 125 yards last week in a 34-6 win over Flora (Ill.). QB Mike Chamness threw for 125 yards. The Tiger 'D' will break down eventually.
Final score: Anna 35, Caruthersville 18
Scott City might be able to push Malden's defense around and score a few times playing power football, but in the end, the Rams will have no answer for the Green Wave speed.
Look for a big game out of Karrington Rodgers.
Final score: Malden 21, Scott City 8
Once again, MAFC coaches have picked Grandview to finish dead last in the Blue Division. New Chaffee QB Sam Burnett will pick their secondary apart.
Final score: Chaffee 20, Grandview 6
Due to a scheduling conflict, the Bulldogs were forced to take a bye in Week 1. Portageville will open the season Sept. 13, hosting Scott City.