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Monday, Sep. 1, 2014

SHS to open conference play with physical Indians

Thursday, September 21, 2006

(Photo)
Sikeston Bulldog senior running back and linebacker Salamar Cox (32) is second on the team in tackles.
JACKSON -- If there is one program in Southeast Missouri that has set the standard the last 10 to 15 years, it's the Jackson Indians.

Although the program hasn't been as dominant since a tremendous run from 1994-2001, the Indians still are arguably the top team in the region nearly every year, winning league titles three straight seasons.

The Sikeston Bulldogs (0-3) will try to get off on the right foot in conference play tomorrow night as they open SEMO North play at Jackson at 7 p.m.

The Indians have had Sikeston's number for several years, winning eight of the last 10 matchups and three straight.

Longtime Jackson coach Carl Gross said the Indians' success against Sikeston is simply a matter of personnel.

"To be real honest, the reason we've been more successful the last couple years is because we've had more talent," said Gross. "I'm not going to lie about it."

This year's Jackson team may not have a household name like a Mario Whitney, but big, physical linemen and experience in the backfield have lifted the team to a 2-1 record against three St. Louis schools this season.

"They're big and physical and they have a power-oriented offense," said Sikeston coach Jerry Dement. "We know they're going to be very difficult to beat, particularly at their place.

"What we're excited about and put the emphasis on is it's our first conference game. We know we've got our work cut out for us, but we're going up there with the attitude that we're going to pull the upset and we're going to get after them."

Gross said Sikeston's record may be a bit misleading considering the competition the Bulldogs have played.

"I know they've kind of been struggling, but I'm telling you the people they've played, there's a lot of teams that have struggled against them," said Gross. "There's one loss among the three teams they've played. They haven't been playing chopped liver."

Injuries and turnovers have brought Sikeston's offense to a halt in the first three games as they Bulldogs have only scored 14 points on the season.

Quarterback Chase Ferrell is most likely lost for the season with a broken ankle so junior Michael Payne will take over the bulk of the duties behind center.

"He brings some excitement to the game -- he's a pretty good runner and an adequate passer," said Dement of Payne. "We're going to try to do some things to take advantage of his ability. He's the next in line and we're going to go forward with him. But on the other token, Charlie Bohannon has gotten better each week and we're going to give him some snaps too."

Also making his return this week is junior running back Byron Davis, who missed last week's game for family reasons.

Davis was clearly Sikeston's top playmaker in Week 1, but he will be worked in slowly against Jackson after having limited practice time the last couple weeks.

Dement indicated that Gavilan Bland, Davis, Jerod Scott, Tyler Dame and sophomore Vince Howard may all see playing time at running back.

"We're going to try to spread the ball around and see who has the hot hand and ride it," said Dement. "Our biggest thing is we want to eliminate turnovers.

"That's been a bug-a-boo for us as much as anything. We've been shooting ourselves in the foot with turnovers."

Jackson's Trae Smith has been the top rusher for the Indians with 206 yards on the season. Cody Randen follows up with 152 yards.

Senior quarterback Rex Meyr leads the offense with 250 yards passing.

"Our quarterback's a veteran and I feel like he took control of the team last week," said Gross. "We're not going to be able to line up and just pound people like we did a year ago with Joel Penrod. We get in the shotgun some and throw the football."

Gross said Dement's multiple offensive and defensive formations concern him.

"Coach Dement is a very good football coach," said Gross. "They show you a lot of different looks on defense. They bring them from a lot of different places and they run multiple formations.

"The thing Jerry tries to do is get the football in his playmakers' hands."