The Sikeston Bulldogs' offense was going nowhere fast in the first three weeks, so head coach Charlie Vickery decided to revamp things.
He unleashed his new offensive philosophy on Friday against the Kennett Indians and it produced results, as the Bulldogs rolled 41-12 on homecoming night at SPS Stadium.
The 41 points is the most Sikeston (2-2) has scored since posting 44 against Perryville in the season finale of 2001.
The change involved more downfield passes in an attempt to stretch the defense, as opposed to the short, quick routes that the team had been running before.
It's by far the most impressive performance of the year for the Bulldogs, racking up season-highs in total offense (368) and passing yardage (250).
"They were playing man coverage and we wanted to go down the field a little bit," said Vickery. "We definitely got better there. The receivers made some good catches. Most of the time we had pretty good protection."
Wide receiver Scotty Keenan had a career day for the Bulldogs, hauling in five passes for 188 yards with two touchdowns.
"He runs good routes, he has good hands and he's got really deceptive speed," said Vickery. "Two of those were on a slip-screen where we got some linemen down the field and did a good job of blocking."
Bulldog quarterback Stephen Miller also had a monster day, completing 7-of-17 passes for 250 yards. He had two TD tosses and one interception.
Keenan's receiving yards and Miller's passing yards both rank among the best single-game performances in school history.
"I think the Miller kid's going to be a good quarterback if he hangs in there and the line continues to protect him like they did," said Kennett head coach Ronnie Jones. "Charlie Vickery's real good at trying to scheme you. He understands who we had in our secondary -- it's no secret. If you get a superior athlete out there and it's one-on-one, more times than not they're going to win that battle."
Sikeston got on the board first when they marched 58 yards in eight plays. Fullback Jacob Priday broke several tackles on his way to a 16-yard touchdown run with 7:12 left in the first quarter.
Ryan Dicus kicked the first of his three extra points to make it 7-0.
Later in the quarter, Bulldog cornerback Brandon Williams intercepted a David Wilson pass and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown.
But the score was nullified with an illegal block in the back behind the play, bringing the ball back to the Indian 34.
The Bulldogs got as close as the Indian 11-yard line but the drive ended on downs.
The score remained 7-0 until Miller found Keenan on a slip-screen pass. Keenan and the blockers did the rest, as he raced untouched for a 54-yard touchdown to make it 14-0 with 6:29 left in the half.
After forcing a Kennett punt, Miller hit Keenan on a slant route for a gain of 37 yards before being tackled at the 3-yard line.
Miller ran in the quarterback sneak on the next play to make it 20-0. The two point conversion failed with 3:45 left in the half.
The Indians responded with a seven-play, 76-yard drive capped by a 3-yard TD run by Dontavis Jones with 1:03 left in the half. The kick was wide, leaving the score at 20-6.
But just when it seemed the Indians had some momentum, Sikeston's Felante Larry took the ensuing kickoff right up through the wedge, broke right and out-ran the Kennett defenders for an 85-yard touchdown.
It's Sikeston's first kick return for a touchdown since the 1999 season when Adrian Porter ran one back against Dexter.
"We've been really close to breaking a couple," said Vickery on the kick return. "We just told (Larry) to stay tight in the wedge and he did. He put a couple moves on and broke it. That was huge, no question about it."
The two-point conversion failed, leaving Sikeston with a 26-6 lead heading into the half.
"I guess we're getting real close to setting the record across the state for letting folks return kickoffs to us," said Jones. "I don't know how you fix it other than to just keep working on it. I think when they ran that kickoff back, that was the turning point."
In the second half, Sikeston took its opening possession and marched 73 yards in six plays.
A 63-yard slip-screen pass to Keenan set up an Apollo Patterson 3-yard TD run with 9:12 remaining in the third quarter, making the score 33-6.
The Bulldogs tacked on one final score when Miller hit Keenan for an 8-yard TD pass with 10:41 remaining in the game, increasing the lead to 41-6. Kennett's Jeff Bailey capped an 11-play, 68-yard drive with a 6-yard plunge with 2:54 remaining in the game to reach the final score.
"For the most part our defense played good again," said Vickery. "We bent just a little and they scored the second one when we had some younger kids in there. We missed some tackles, but we flew to the football."
The Bulldogs forced four turnovers, including three fumbles. Kennett (0-4) finished with 233 yards of offense. The only pass completion for the Indians was a 53-yarder on a halfback-option play by Dontavis Jones.
Jones also led the Indians with 71 yards on 12 attempts. Bailey finished with 59 yards on 15 carries.
"Sikeston's defense is pretty good," said Jones. "I think the kid in the middle, No. 36 (Priday), I think he's a legit football player. He fits the mold of the defenses I've seen here at Sikeston. Out of that mold, he is one that stands out."
Priday had a sack and a fumble recovery.
As successful as the Bulldogs were through the air, they only managed 118 yards on 35 attempts on the ground.
Patterson led the way with 56 yards on 18 carries.
"We've still got to work on getting the running game going, because you've got to be able to run the ball," said Vickery. "But I was glad that we were able to throw the ball down the field."
Larry also had a 45-yard reception to finish with 130 all-purpose yards.
"I think we made some strides forward tonight," said Vickery. "We felt like this was a new season for us. On Monday we started out from scratch. It was very important to come out and play well. I think we got better. It was a good win."