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Teams looking to get off on right foot

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

(Photo)
C.J. Medley
PORTAGEVILLE -- The second season, district playoffs, kicks off Friday with Portageville hosting Caruthersville in Class 2, District 1.

This district appears up for grabs with neither of the four contenders -- Caruthersville (2-5), East Prairie (3-3), Malden (2-4-1) and Portageville (3-4) -- above .500 for the season.

The Caruthersville Tigers, district champions the past two years and a state semifinalist last season, are currently in the midst of a five-game losing streak. However, three of the losses were by a total of just eight points.

Despite their lackluster record, the Tigers, under first-year coach Brad Gerley, should not be taken lightly.

The Portageville Bulldogs, the last team other than Caruthersville to win the district with a title in 2002, could take a giant step towards another championship with a victory over the defending Tigers.

Slowing down Tigers' running back Kendrickus Reed, the area's leading rusher, will be a key to success for the Bulldogs, coached by Ashley Swims.

An experienced defensive line of seniors Jared Brands (6-1, 225), Ryan Gill (6-1, 276), Kyle Turley (6-4, 232), Thomas Bracey (5-8, 220) and Paul Davidson (5-9, 200) must win the battles at the point of attack.

On offense, the Bulldogs have tremendous depth at the running back position. Keeping fresh legs on the field may serve to wear down the Tigers.

Seniors C.J. Medley (5-8, 142) and Casey Ash (5-8, 160) lead the Bulldogs' ground game with 423 and 191 yards, respectively. (Last week's statistics were unavailable at press time). Medley and Ash are most effective inside the tackles in the Bulldogs' Wishbone offense.

Fleet junior Trey Mosby (5-11, 149) is the Bulldogs best outside threat, averaging about 7.5 yards per carry. He is also is the leading receiver with two touchdown catches.

Junior Nathan Martin (5-9, 163) is a capable backup at the tailback or wingback slots.

Rounding out the bevy of backs is junior Leonard Boyd (5-8, 241), a powerful, bruising inside runner as the up back in the 'Bone. Boyd is the second leading rusher with 255 yards.

Senior Tyler Fowler mans the controls at quarterback. He has not thrown for a high percentage (16-of-59 with two interceptions), but has completed five TD passes.

Obviously, Caruthersville's goal coming into districts is to turn around a disappointing season and reach the postseason for the third consecutive year.

The Tigers, coming off a disappointing 50-14 loss to surging Dexter, still possesses a formidable ground attack with the six-foot, 195-pound junior Reed rambling for 1,329 yards and 15 TDs. Junior wingback Aaron Borders (6-1-195), on limited carries, has scored two TDs.

The major difference for the Tigers this season has been an inability to get the passing game rolling.

Heavy graduation losses of key receivers, all of whom were special athletes, has curtailed the production of all-region quarterback Keith Creekmore.

Creekmore, who threw for more than 2,300 yards last year, has completed 34-of-88 for 420 yards and four TDs thus far.

Rashad Fields and Jason Tate lead the receiving corps. Fields has 13 catches for 177 yards and two TDs, while Tate has seven grabs for 97 yards and two scores.

As for common opponents, the Tigers have split against Kennett and Hayti, while the Bulldogs have dropped both games to the same teams.

Caruthersville defeated Kennett 42-14, then lost to Hayti 22-20. Portageville lost 52-12 to Kennett and 42-8 to Hayti.

This one seems to come down to which team, Portageville and Caruthersville, decides to show up. Both have endured convincing wins as well as frustrating losses this season.