NEW MADRID - Division I caliber athletes aren't a dime-a-dozen in Southeast Missouri.
But New Madrid County Central is making a habit out of producing top-notch talent recently.
This year's team is no different as the Eagles have at least two athletes committed to big-time programs, and could have a couple more before the season is over.
The Sikeston Bulldogs will see just how talented the Eagles are on Friday night when they travel to NMCC on homecoming night at 7:30.
Headlining the prospects is 6-foot-1, 220-pound running back Remond Willis, who is second in the area with 934 rushing yards on 121 carries with 10 touchdowns.
Willis has given the University of Illinois a verbal commitment.
"He's a tremendous running back, you just try to slow him down," said Vickery. "I don't think you can stop him. But they've got so many other weapons that you can't just key up on him. If you do then they've got several other people that can hurt you as well."
Like Edgar Givens, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound wide receiver. He has 13 catches for 240 yards with four TDs.
He's also intercepted several passes from his linebacker position, returned a fumble for a touchdown and scored on a reverse on offense.
Givens has committed to the University of Missouri.
Mack Kimble is another talented receiver for the Eagles, catching seven passes for 147 yards with two TDs.
New quarterback Darrel Newsom, who won the job in Week 2, has been steady all year. He has throw for 424 yards, completing 20-of-42 passes with six touchdowns and only one interception.
"I think everybody that's followed us knows Remond's going to get his 25 carries a game," said NMCC head coach Steve Rogers. "But we're trying to be as balanced as we can. We like to throw when we want to throw. We don't want to wait until it's 3rd-and-15 and everybody in the house knows you're throwing. We're doing a lot more play-action. We're throwing on first down. We're throwing when it's a run situation."
On top of it all, the Eagles (3-2) start a big and talented offensive line, which has been creating gaping holes for Willis.
"You always hear about their athletic ability and their athleticism, but a lot of people don't talk about their line," said Vickery. "Their line is very good this year and that's one of the strong points on their team. Their line's probably as good as it's been in a few years."
But even with all the Eagles' talent, they've had trouble putting it all together at times this year.
The team has been good enough to defeat top-ranked Cape Central and dominating enough to dismantle Charleston before halftime.
But the team has also lost two games, including a 34-30 setback to Class 2 Caruthersville last week. And they had to rally in the second half to defeat Farmington in Week 3.
"Our Achilles Heel has been pass defense," said Rogers. "Farmington had a good game throwing the ball against us. Caruthersville threw four TD passes against us. That's a concern."
Sikeston (3-2) has shown proficiency the last two weeks throwing the ball.
Bulldog quarterback Stephen Miller has thrown for 551 yards, completing 32-of-80 passes with four TDs and four INTs.
"We need to put pressure on the quarterback," said Rogers. "The best pass defense is a good pass rush. Hopefully we can put some pressure on the Miller kid."
Miller's favorite target has been wide receiver Scotty Keenan, who leads the area with 424 yards and 21 receptions.
"The Keenan kid's probably the best receiver in the area, or at least one of the best," said Rogers.
Sikeston's running game has picked up the last two weeks as well. Apollo Patterson leads the team with 324 yards on 79 carries. Fullback Jacob Priday has 215 yards on 41 carries and Miller has gained 141 yards on 49 carries.
On defense, Sikeston has been sound for most of the year. The team has surrendered 77 points on the year, but a triple-overtime game against Farmington boosted the total, along with defensive touchdowns and short offensive drives earlier in the season.
"Their defense is always rock solid," said Rogers. "Charlie and his staff are probably as good, if not the best coaching staff man for man in the area. It's going to be a dogfight."
Sikeston has defeated NMCC two straight years, including a huge upset of the Eagles in 2001, the year they made it to the Class 3A championship game.
Sikeston leads the all-time series 11-4.
"We didn't beat them forever, and then we had a pretty good run where we beat them two or three years in a row, and now we've reverted back to where we haven't beaten them in a while," said Rogers. "If we can keep our mistakes to a minimum, then I think we will have a chance."
Even though the Eagles are a smaller school enrollment wise than Sikeston, Vickery said they have as many athletes as larger schools.
"They've got as talented a team as there is in this area -- I firmly believe that," said Vickery. "It's a big game for us to see where we stand, because they've got an outstanding team."