DEXTER - The Dexter Bearcats football team will host a sectional playoff game in Class 3, as the Bearcats take on the Ste. Genevieve Dragons on Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
Dexter (7-3) defeated New Madrid County Central 34-7, blasted the Kennett Indians 46-0 and outlasted Perryville 6-0, to win the Class 3, District 1 title.
Ste. Genevieve (9-1) took the Class 3, District 2 title by defeating Potosi 69
-48, downed Fredericktown 39-8 and made it a clean sweep of the district, by defeating Park Hills Central 48-6.
The Bearcats dropped a heartbreaker in Week 1 of the season by losing to the Dragons 12-7. Dexter had the go-ahead score late in the fourth, but the football was dropped in the end zone by the Bearcat receiver.
Overall, Ste Genevieve leads the series 4-1. The two teams have met three times in the playoffs, with the Dragons winning all three contest.
In 1990, Ste. Genevieve defeated Dexter 21-13 in sectionals. The Dragons defeated the Bearcats 40-20 in sectionals, on their way to a state championship in 1992. The last playoff meeting took place in 2002, as the Dragons prevailed 36-7 over Dexter in sectional action.
The Dragons have made the state playoffs in seven of the last eight years, dating back to 1997. Overall in playoff games, the Dragons have made 14 appearances, going 17-12.
Ste. Genevieve has the one state title in 1992 and finished in second place in 2003 losing to Harrisonville 35-0. The Dragons have finished in third place on four different occasions.
Dexter has made 10 appearances in the state playoffs going 4-9 in those contests. The Bearcats made their first appearance in the playoffs a memorable one, as they finished second, losing to Chillicothe in the state finals, 32-6.
In 1986, the Bearcats finished third in state losing to Marshall in the semifinals 33-13. Marshall finished as co-champions in 1986. The next year in 1987, Dexter lost in the quarterfinals to Sumner, 56-13. Sumner went on to finish second in state.
Don't expect the same teams to show up on Wednesday night that played back in early September.
"Both teams have improved from week to week," said Dexter head coach Aaron Pixley. "Ste. Genevieve is much better than they were in Week 1 and that is a compliment to their coaching staff. They are coached very well and don't make many mistakes."
Coach Bob Stolzer of Ste. Genevieve agrees that both teams have made strides over 11 weeks.
"I think our team has improved in all areas since Week 1," said Stolzer. "Our major improvements have been in execution in all areas. Our line play has greatly improved. Dexter has also greatly improved. As I look at them, they have really looked good since we played them. They always play hard and have simply fine-tuned."
Dexter is led on offense by senior running back Alex Becker (5-11, 170). Becker gained 1,651 rushing yards on the season on 292 attempts. Becker rushed for 23 touchdowns and had four receptions for 21 yards.
Against Ste. Genevieve this season, Becker rushed for 84 yards on 20 carries.
"What people fail to understand," said Pixley, "is that Alex hasn't been 100 percent healthy all season. He has been at every practice taking all the snaps and is just a super kid."
Stolzer knows that Becker will be a handful for his Dragons to contain.
"No one has contained Becker all season," said Stolzer. "I just hope we can slow him down a little."
In addition to Becker, Dexter will feature fullback Justin Foushee (6-0, 190) who has rushed for 257 yards on 50 carries and scored two rushing touchdowns. Foushee had four carries for 21 yards against the Dragons in Week 1.
Zach Ventura (5-8, 175) will see some carries as he has gained 172 yards on 36 carries and has a touchdown.
Junior quarterback Josh Stevens has had a nice season in his first year as starter for the Bearcats. Stevens completed 66 passes for 879 yards and nine touchdowns. In his first start against Ste. Genevieve, Stevens completed nine passes for 140 yards but threw an interception.
Eric Rinehart (6-0, 170) leads the team in receiving yards with 275 yards on 14 receptions and has three touchdown receptions. Tight end Josh Davis (6
-3, 230) leads the team in receptions with 17 for 219 yards and two touchdowns. Davis had a nice game against the Dragons as he caught three passes for 47 yards.
Dexter has a massive and effective offensive line which is probably the best in the area. Led by seniors Bryan Maslinski (6-3, 280) and Matt Myers (6-1, 265) the Bearcats have paved the way for Becker to have a wonderful year.
Ste. Genevieve is led on defense by lineman Garrett Ditch (6-2, 195) who leads the Dragons in tackles with 78. Linebacker Brad Schweigert (5-7, 175) is the leader of the defense as he was an all-state selection last year and is second on the team in tackles.
The Dragons have an excellent linebacking corps along with Schweigert, Nick Herman (5-10, 200) and Brad Uding (5-10, 185) patrol the middle and emphasize stopping the run.
"Ste. Gen runs a 4-4 defense," said Pixley. "They will bring the backers up and they will all run to the football. They are very good against the run and it all begins with excellent coaching."
Ste. Genevieve has averaged over 50 points in the last six games and feature a senior quarterback who can either beat you in the air or with his feet. Tanner Wolk (6-0, 190) has thrown for 1,407 yards on 86 completions with 17 touchdowns and six interceptions.
On the ground, Wolk has rushed for 537 yards on 93 carries and has scored seven touchdowns on the ground. Against Dexter, Wolk threw for 73 yards on seven completions but had two interceptions. Wolk rushed for 66 yards on 13 carries and scored a touchdown.
"Tanner is an outstanding quarterback," said Stolzer. "He really understands our offense and just executes."
Senior running back Taylor Huck (5-9, 170) is the main running attack for the Dragons. Huck rushed for 1,083 yards on 120 carries and has scored 12 touchdowns. Huck is also a receiving threat as he has 18 receptions for 258 yards and four touchdowns.
Huck ran for 114 yards on 13 carries and had a 75-yard touchdown run that gave the Dragons the victory against Dexter.
Ditch is the primary target for Wolk as he has 32 receptions for 491 yards on the season with four touchdowns from his wide receiver position. Jacob Greminger (5-10, 170), at the other wideout, has 17 receptions for 263 yards and four touchdowns.
Ste. Genevieve has an under-sized offensive line as the five linemen average 190 pounds. The leader of the unit is senior Zach Bader (5-8, 180) who makes the offense click from his left tackle position.
"Ste. Gen has three or four pass and running plays that they run to perfection," said Pixley. "Those plays are basically the same except from different formations. They are much better than in Week 1 and you know that their kids will play hard."
The Bearcats are led on defense by their linebackers who have made the majority of the teams' tackles. Austin Matthews (5-9, 180) leads the team in tackles with over 80 tackles. Dexter has three linebackers with over 70 tackles and two with over 80. David Hessling (5-9, 145), Zach Ventura (5-8, 175) and Davis will be counted on to make big plays from their linebacking positions.
Cornerback Drew Pixley (5-9, 150) had a big interception return against the Dragons for a 65-yard touchdown. D. Pixley and free safety Rinehart will be counted on to try and slow down the Dragon passing attack.
Both teams are familiar with each other and it should be a great contest on Wednesday night. If Dexter hopes to win, they must find out where Wolk is at all times on the football field. Dexter might even want to put a spy on Wolk to make sure that when he drops back to pass, he doesn't take off on a run for a big gain.
On offense, the Bearcats need to have solid blocking at the point of attack and might even want to double team Ditch. The Dragons seem vulnerable to the pass as Potosi found holes in the secondary. Stevens needs to have a big game and needs to be more accurate with his passes than he was in the first meeting.
Ste. Genevieve will load up the box to try and stop Becker and dare the Bearcats to throw. Huck has got to take the pressure off Wolk and get some early yards to put his team in good position. The Dragons need to utilize Ditch over the middle to loosen up the Bearcat linebackers.
The game will be entertaining and the team that takes care of the football will more than likely big the victor.
"I'm hoping it will be a real good game," said Stolzer. "I know Dexter will do their part and I hope we can do ours to make it a game. After Week 1, coach Pixley and I both thought that maybe we'd play again in November and it has become a reality."
Coach Pixley thinks both teams are deserving and believes it should be a good contest.
"Hopefully we can play up to our ability," said Pixley. "We didn't play that way against Perryville but we have had some good practices and the kids are ready to go. The whole town is ready and hopefully we can make it a ball game."