The Dragons will come in as the No. 6 ranked football team in Class 3 in Missouri after the first poll of the season was taken.
Ste. Genevieve will have some extra incentive after last year's loss at home against the Bearcats by a score of 21-7. However, the Dragons lead the series 3-1.
Coach Aaron Pixley of Dexter is well aware that Ste. Genevieve will come in with a little revenge on their minds.
"They will have most of their team back from last year and they will look to use their experience to take it at us," said Pixley.
The Dragons will bring back 10 of 11 starters from last year's squad on the offensive side of the football from a team that made it to the second round of the Class 3 playoffs last year.
Leading the way on offense for Ste. Genevieve is senior quarterback, Tanner Wolk, who had an outstanding season last year by throwing for more than 1,000 yards and rushing for more than 1,000 yards. Wolk is a dual threat that the Bearcats will have to control to have a chance for victory.
Coach Bob Stolzer, of Ste. Genevieve, has been pleased with the performance of Wolk so far in practices.
"He brings a lot of experience into this year and our team has the ability to keep the opponents off balance," said Stolzer, "Tanner makes our offense click."
Besides Wolk, Dexter will have to contend with running back Taylor Huck who rushed for more than 900 yards last season.
The receiving corps for the Dragons remains intact from last year with 6-
foot-2, 195-pound Garrett Ditch and 5-foot-10, 180-pound Jacob Greminger for Wolk to utilize.
On the offensive line, no starter for Ste. Gen will weigh over 200 pounds. Coach Stolzer insists that what his line lacks in size, they make up for in overall speed and quickness.
"We are on the small side but we are deep and some of our boys can get up there in size no doubt," said Stolzer, "Everyone of them will work hard and all have the quickness that is needed for our offense."
To counteract the explosive Dragons, Dexter will run a 4-4 defense and the feature player will be all-conference returnee, Josh Davis.
At 6-foot-3, 230-pounds, Davis will be counted on to make big plays for the Bearcat defense.
"Our team will come in young and inexperienced and Josh is going to have to carry us for awhile until our young players grow and develop," said Pixley.
Austin Matthews will be another senior linebacker for Dexter who fans should watch for on defense. At 5-foot-9, 180-pounds, Matthews will deliver a big hit and has some range to track down would-be ball carriers.
Coach Pixley has stated that his defensive line unit is somewhat banged up but will give maximum effort tonight. Watch for Dexter's defensive line to be quick and they will swarm to the football.
Dexter will have a new starting quarterback this year with 5-foot-11, 185-
pound junior, Josh Stevens taking the snaps.
"Josh is young and inexperienced but he is a good leader and has an excellent attitude," said Pixley, "The team rallies around Josh and they all believe in him."
Running back, Alex Becker, will receive the bulk of the carries for Dexter. Becker has been nursing some nagging quad and hamstring injuries according to Pixley but should be ready to go tonight.
Eric Rinehart, a 6-foot-0, 170-pound senior, will be the top receiver for Stevens. Davis should provide Stevens a nice target as he will line up on the offensive side as a tight end.
Dexter's offensive line will be without right guard, Thomas Fowler, who has a pulled muscle and will miss a week of action. In his place, coach Pixley will have Thomas Espey man the position. That could big a blow to the Bearcats as Espey weighs in at 165 pounds, 30 pounds less than Fowler.
In addition, Dexter has some more injury issues on the offensive line with 6-
foot-3, 280-pound, Bryan Maslinski nursing a injury.
"Our lineman are banged up right now but Maslinski will be ready to play and we they will do a good job for us," said Pixley.
Ste. Genevieve will try and stop the Bearcats with a 4-3 defense led by returning all-state selection, Brad Schweigert, at linebacker. Last season, Schweigert, a 5-foot-7, 175-pounder was a second team selection for Class 3 and will be looked upon to anchor the Dragons defensive unit.
In addition to Schweigert, Brad Uding (5-10, 185) and Kyle Faulkner (5-10, 165) will anchor the linebacking corps for Ste. Gen.
On the defensive line, Brandon Cabot (6-3, 238) will clog up the middle along with Kellen Stolzer (5-10, 195).
This Week 1 matchup could be a preview of things to come in the Class 3 playoff system as both should be favored to win their respective districts and could possibly meet in the first round.
"We are not looking that far down the road," said Pixley, "We are going to concentrate on ourselves and try to improve on the things we do and not worry about Ste. Genevieve."
Coach Pixley did express that his team needs to come out tonight and match the intensity of the Dragons if they expect to win the ballgame.
Coach Stolzer emphasized that his team needs to step it up against Dexter as he was impressed with the Bearcats at their jamboree.
"With the first game of the season we need to come out on the right foot and execute and limit our mistakes," said coach Stolzer.
Dexter will have to find a way to corral Wolk on defense as he is a threat that cannot be ignored. Wolk can either keep the football on the run or he can air it out to his excellent receivers.
Davis is going to have to be everywhere on the field tonight and make some plays that could result in some turnovers for Dexter.
On the offensive side of the ball, Stevens will have to shake of any jitters he might have starting his first football game and execute the game plan for the Bearcats.
Becker's injuries are a concern as he will be expected to carry the offensive load. If Becker is limited, it could spell doom for the Bearcats.
In the end, too many question marks hamper Dexter with their inexperience at quarterback and their injury situation. The Bearcats may have no answer for quarterback Tanner Wolk. Expect the Dragons to walk away from Bland Stadium with a victory.