Sikeston hopes to rebound at Kennett
KENNETT - Media and fans can sure be fickle sometimes. Just last week at this time, Sikeston was considered one of the top teams in the entire state in Class 4.
The Bulldogs were ranked No. 10 in the MSHSAA poll and were No. 3 in the Southeast Missouri regional poll.
But after a stunning 29-3 loss to unranked and winless Dexter on Friday, those same people are now trying to figure out what is wrong with Sikeston.
The Bulldogs (2-1) have dropped out of the state-wide poll and they slipped to No. 5 in the regional poll.
One week the Bulldogs were considered a district contender, the next they are a team searching for answers.
So goes the beat in the game of football.
The old axiom, "you're only as good as your last game" applies here.
That's why Bulldog head coach Charlie Vickery considers Friday night's matchup at Kennett the most pivotal game of the season.
"I think this game right here will determine where we're headed for the rest of the season," said Vickery. "This is the biggest game of the season. We've got to go on a long road trip, it's not a great rivalry or anything, and it's not a game that you would normally get sky-high for. But like I told the kids, this is a huge game for us."
Vickery might also be thinking of the last time the Bulldogs visited Kennett two years ago, when the Indians defeated Sikeston 41-27, led by Tyree Goolsby's 324-yard, five-touchdown performance.
Sikeston was able to get a measure of revenge on the Indians last year, winning 38-20 and holding Goolsby to 48 yards rushing. Which leads one to think that it's no coincidence -- as goes Goolsby, so goes Kennett.
This season, he leads the SEMO Conference in rushing (573 yards) and scoring (48 points, 8 TDs).
In Kennett's two wins against Charleston and Caruthersville, Goolsby ran for 230 and 275 yards respectively. In last week's loss to Gosnell, Ark., Goolsby had just 75 yards rushing.
"Goolsby is tremendously fast and he carries a lot of their offense," said Vickery. "If you can't slow him down then you're definitely not going to win the football game. We have to take good pursuit angles, we have to stay very intense on defense, wrap up and not let him break tackles. We're going to have to play very smart."
After Goolsby, the Indians haven't shown many other weapons. After an intense preseason battle for the starting quarterback position, head coach Roland Johnson eventually settled for sophomore Dontavis Jones.
"We're probably going to go with Jones all the way," said Johnson. "He's a pretty athletic sophomore and we feel like he can do the job for us. He can run and pass both -- he handles himself pretty well."
Despite a solid defensive outing against Charleston, the Indians' defense looked suspect in its win against Caruthersville. The Tigers racked up 569 yards of offense, 474 of it coming on the ground.
It could be just what the doctor ordered for a Sikeston offense searching for an identity.
In Week 1 against Jackson, the Bulldog offense ran the option with success. In Week 2 against Charleston, the passing game was working.
Last week, the Bulldogs were held to 88 yards total. A number of things went wrong against Dexter, namely costly penalties, dropped passes and missed blocking assignments.
In practice this week, Vickery wanted to make sure those things don't happen again.
"We worked hard on the fundamentals this week and we just got right back to the basics," said Vickery. "We're just going to try to do a few less things than what we've done, but do them better."
Quarterback Blake DeWitt has been the catalyst on offense. He has thrown for 238 yards and leads the team with 16 yards on the ground.
Senior tailback Lavar Morgan has 151 yards rushing on 47 attempts.
"Probably DeWitt concerns us the most," said Johnson. "He's an all-around player. He's athletic, he throws it, he runs it. If you let him out of the pocket then he's going to kill you. Morgan runs the ball well too and they've got a big line up front. They're a good team all the way around."
Sikeston's defense has performed well for the most part. In fact, the Bulldogs haven't allowed a point in the first half this season.
But the second half is a different story as Sikeston has been out-scored 49-28, including a whopping 32-7 margin in the fourth quarter this year -- most of which can be attributed to Dexter's 19-point explosion in a four-minute span last week.
Junior linebacker Jacob Priday leads the team with 57 tackles and one quarterback sack.
Senior defensive back Tori Rose follows up with 31 tackles.
Both teams will be shooting for its third win of the season. For Sikeston, it would be the second year in a row of starting the season 3-1.
A win by the Indians would match last season's win total.
Kickoff is set for 7:30.