CHARLESTON -- Charleston was derailed by New Madrid County Central while Malden was dominated by Dexter in last week's high school football action.
The two teams will try to get back on track when they meet at Charleston on Friday night.
The Charleston Bluejays (3-1) saw a 16-0 first-quarter lead evaporate to the upstart NMCC Eagles in a 24-22 upset.
Coming in as a heavy favorite as the state's seventh-ranked team, the Bluejays watched momentum slip away and land on the Eagles' sideline.
"We were apathetic and lethargic and when we jumped up by 16 points, we were thinking we had one in the bag," said Charleston coach Al Marshall, of the Bluejays' improbable loss.
"But our attitude has been real good this week. The boys have bounced back and realized that we weren't invincible, that we weren't all that."
Buoyed by a solid defensive effort, NMCC (2-2) more than doubled Charleston's rushing total -- 235 to 112 -- holding perennial 1,000-yard rusher Joseph Watts to a season-low 81 yards, 55 of those on one play. Watts leads the Bluejay rushing attack with 495 yards and three scores.
Senior quarterback Josh Marshall put up nice numbers with 5-of-7 passing for 189 yards and two touchdowns, but faced a persistent pass rush, particularly in the second half, and was held pretty well in check through the last three quarters.
To simplify the offense, Bluejay coach Marshall has trimmed the playbook. "We are trying to, maybe, not have so many plays," he said, "but run the ones we do have right. It doesn't matter what you run, as long as you execute and play hard. If we do that, we're in the game with anybody."
Charleston's receiving corps will be depleted by the loss of leading receiver Jamarcus Williams (10 catches, 257 yards and four touchdowns).
Williams must sit out Friday's game because of an ejection against NMCC.
Justin Clark is the second-leading receiver with six catches for 167 yards and one touchdown and Bobby Clark is right behind with five grabs for 140 yards and a score.
Malden's secondary, led by defensive back Alonzo Louis who had an interception return for a touchdown against Dexter, will be tested against the taller Bluejay receivers.
In addition to the loss of Williams, the Bluejays must compensate for the limited or lost playing time of several injured players.
Fullback James Williams is hobbled with a bad ankle, running back/returner Tavis Hamilton has a hyper-extended elbow and kicker Dustin Allen is experiencing knee and ankle problems.
The season's been a mixed bag for Malden.
The Green Wave (1-2-1) opened with a solid 28-6 win over young Scott City, lost a shootout to Hayti 54-50 in the final seconds, tied Corning (Ark.) 22-22, then was manhandled by Dexter 34-12.
"We've had a little of everything," said Malden coach Gary Blaylock. "Against Dexter, we got thumped pretty good."
The Bearcats held Malden to a scant 46 yards of total offense while rushing for 223 themselves.
The smallish Green Wave face an equally daunting task trying to slow down the Bluejays.
"Charleston will be big and quick and they'll throw the ball around," said Blaylock. "We'll just try to match up with them the best we can."
Malden has been hampered by injuries all season long.
Trey Porter, a 1,000-yard rusher at tailback last season, injured an ankle on the first play of the Hayti game and has been a non-factor on offense, although he has refused to sit and still mans the middle linebacker position.
"As a runner, he can't make his cuts," said Blaylock.
"But he refuses to come out of the lineup. Doctors say playing on the ankle won't make it worse and it is getting better week to week."
Junior wingback Ryan Criglar has taken most of the rushing load in Porter's absence. Criglar leads the Green Wave with 369 yards with six rushing and three reception touchdowns.
"He was beat up pretty good against Dexter," said Blaylock, "but he'll play Friday."
Junior tailback Kaleum Reed gives Malden another running threat with 197 yards and two scores.
Already small and young on the offensive line, both starting guards, sophomores Sean Merritt (5-11, 206) and Ryan McGee (5-11, 212), have been sidelined with broken hands.
The line gets a boost when starting center Garrett Hartle returns after a two-
week absence due to a concussion.
Blaylock said, to be competitive against the Bluejays, his team must not turn the ball over and has to find a way to contain the Bluejays' offense.