KENNETT - The Sikeston Bulldogs and the Kennett Indians enter Friday night's contest at Kennett High School with a same 1-5 record, but they are two teams on different paths.
While Kennett has continued a downward spiral with an abundance of injuries, Sikeston has made it through the first half of the season with virtually no injuries and have steadily improved the last three weeks.
The Bulldogs picked up their first win of the season last week in impressive fashion as they rolled to a 49-14 victory against New Madrid County Central.
After beating Hayti in Week 3, the Indians have now lost three in a row and appear to be as banged up as ever.
"We've got several injuries right now -- we're breaking a lot of bones," said Kennett head coach Ronnie Jones. "The last two weeks have been really really bad on us. We're kind of like a MASH unit. By the time we get somebody healed, somebody else will go down."
Sikeston meanwhile avoided its first 0-6 start since 1929 with a breakout performance that Dement hopes will give his team some inspiration.
"We finally put our game together and we're really proud of the kids for sticking through a tough five weeks to get their first victory," said Dement. "We want to build on that. It's not too late to get a streak going and get some momentum going into the district."
Sikeston racked up numerous season-highs last week, including total yards with 408 and rushing yards with 314. They also had their top defensive performance, limiting the Eagles to 138 yards and one offensive touchdown. The other score came on an interception return.
"Sikeston had a great game against New Madrid last week and it looks like they finally hit on all cylinders and I was afraid that was going to happen," said Jones.
"They came out with an unbalanced line and basically just bulldogged over the top of them, for lack of a better word. To me they were very physical in that game and that presents a problem for us. We're not near as big on the line as Sikeston."
The Bulldog offensive line was able to create huge holes for its running backs last week, allowing fullback Acie Dixon to rush for 141 yards on 13 carries and tailback Apollo Patterson to get loose for 104 yards on 20 carries.
"Really the last couple ballgames, the offensive line has been the most improved part of our ballclub," said Dement. "We're putting a lot of plays together where we can keep the ball a lot. We've had 12 to 15 play drives which is nice in high school. That's helped our defense out too. It's taking some of the pressure off the defense."
In addition, the line is giving quarterback Bryce Wibbenmeyer time to look for receivers. His favorite target has been Felante Larry, who has 25 catches for 326 yards this season. The speedy Larry has scored three different ways -- one each on a run, reception and a kick return.
"We have to contain Larry because he has the potential to score at any given time with his speed," said Jones. "And I feel like their two big running backs are going to present problem to us because they compliment one another so well. They just hammer it in there. There's nothing fancy about it, but they get the job done."
Kennett has no shortage of speed themselves as running backs Dontavis Jones and Alando Edwards have the burst to go the distance on any play. Also quarterback Robert Lockett has proven to be a threat on the option.
"The key to them is their quarterback and tailback," said Dement. "Dontavis Jones is a pretty good little tailback for them. He's got a lot of speed and good moves in the open field and their quarterback (Lockett) runs the option pretty well. They've got good team speed. They're young in spots. I'm impressed with their defense. They put a lot of pressure on you with a lot of blitzes. They've been struggling more on the offensive side of the ball."