POPLAR BLUFF --
Nobody likes ties, especially in football.
"A tie has kind of a stigmatism, kind of like kissing your sister type thing," Poplar Bluff athletic director Bill Caputo said.
Yet that's a possibility the Mules faced the past several days after lightning canceled their game Friday night with Francis Howell North.
Fortunately for Poplar Bluff, the game was ruled a "no contest" yesterday afternoon, leaving the Mules' record unblemished at 3-0.
One of just two unbeaten teams left in Southeast Missouri, Poplar Bluff moved up to third in this week's SEMO Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association high school football poll.
The Mules received four first-place votes and 132 total points to finish just behind No. 1 Cape Central and No. 2 North County.
The Tigers returned to the poll's top spot after beating North County 25-18 last Thursday. Cape Central received nine of 17 first-place votes and 166 total points.
Hayti, ranked No. 1 in the Class 1 poll, received two first-place votes and 124 points to come in fourth. The Indians are followed by Ste. Genevieve and New Madrid, which each received one first-place vote.
The Poplar Bluff-Howell North game was played in monsoon-like conditions until lightning struck with 2:08 left in the first half. The two teams were exited off the field and the game was immediately canceled, a stark contradiction to the MSHSAA policy that states officials should wait 30 minutes before postponing a game.
According to Caputo, Howell North athletic director Ed Gettemeier apologized in a letter this week for its hasty actions. The school apparently had lightening hit in the vicinity on three previous occasions and felt obligated to vacate the area.
Poplar Bluff didn't have a problem with the hasty exit, but the Mules would have a problem with a tie.
"It's not one of those things that you'd like to see on your record," Caputo said. "Hopefully we can come back and say, 'Man if we had that game, we could go 10-0.' I hope this game comes back to haunt us in that way only."
Poplar Bluff coach Mike Dormady believes his team would still be undefeated even if the game wouldn't have been canceled.
"If the game would have gone four quarters, I think we would have been in good shape," he said. "In what we played, I think we proved that we were the better team."
Although Cape Central is no longer the unanimous No. 1, it appears the Tigers are still the team to beat, especially with quarterback Mitch Craft healthy.
Behind Craft, who had 197 passing yards, Cape (3-1) scored 25 unanswered points against North County. But Tigers coach Lawrence Brookins left unimpressed.
"We've gotten in this stinking bad habit of playing weak first halves, then making the old college comeback in the second half," Brookins said Wednesday. "That's OK if you come out on the winning side, but eventually that's going to come back to haunt you."
Hayti (3-0) remained undefeated by outlasting former coach David Gilmore and Caruthersville 28-21 in front of an estimated crowd of 3,000 fans.
Ste. Genevieve (3-1) dropped three spots to fifth after losing 10-8 to Lutheran North at home. New Madrid (3-1) remained at No. 6 after thumping Charleston 48-13. The Eagles set a school record with 34 points on just eight offensive plays in the first quarter.
Portageville (3-0) remained seventh after an easy win against Chaffee. The Bulldogs are followed by Dexter, Fredericktown and Caruthersville.
Dexter (3-1) moved up one spot by grinding out a 16-6 win against Malden. Fredericktown is also up one spot after blanking Potosi 39-0. Caruthersville fell two spots to 10th.