The Bearcats (3-3) come in on a high as they traveled to Charleston and spanked the Bluejays 33-12. The Tigers (2-4) are smarting after a last second lost to Earle, Ark. 26-21.
Overall in the series, which dates back to 1931, Dexter leads 36-28-2. However, Caruthersville has won the last two meetings and won last year at home by a score of 30-10.
In the first game in 1931, the Tigers beat the Bearcats 12-7. The two schools have also played a playoff game back in 1980 as Caruthersville won the first round game 7-6. The Tigers went on from that win and made it all the way to the Class 3 finals at Busch Stadium in St. Louis. Caruthersville lost the championship game to O'Hara High School from Kansas City, 30-0.
After starting off the season with consecutive wins, Caruthersville has seen a drastic turnaround as they have lost four straight football games.
"We have been right in every game," said Caruthersville head coach Brad Gerling. "Our first goal was to win conference but since we are out of that we have to get ready for districts."
Coach Aaron Pixley of Dexter is not looking past the Tigers and understands that Caruthersville's record is a little deceiving.
"Very talented football team," said Pixley. "They are 2-4 but they could easily be 5-1. They have lost the last three football games on the goal line to either win or tie the game and that's just bad luck."
On the other hand, Dexter is sky high after the big win at Charleston and look to gain even more momentum heading into districts.
"We have to come off that win and get ready for the next opponent and not look back," said Pixley. "I think we are playing with a little more confidence this week but I don't see us being arrogant. I said Friday night that we're not fast enough to be arrogant. We've got to play hard all the time."
The Bearcats will be led on offense by senior running back Alex Becker (5-11, 170) who rushed for 222 yards against the Bluejays. For the season, Becker is third in the area in yards rushing with 966 and has scored 13 rushing touchdowns which is also third.
"Becker is a major part of their power rushing attack and we are going to have to dig deep down on the defensive line if we hope to win the game," said Gerling.
Besides Becker, Dexter will have Justin Foushee (6-0, 190) in the starting backfield and has rushed for 144 yards on the season and junior Zach Ventura (5-8, 175) will get some carries and has rushed for 108 yards.
Junior quarterback Josh Stevens (5-11, 185) has had a solid season throwing for 446 yards on 38 completions. Of some concern for the Bearcats is the fact that Stevens has thrown for more interceptions than touchdowns, 6-5.
Dexter has a balanced receiving corps led by tight end Josh Davis (6-3, 230) who has nine receptions on the year, good for 112 yards and a touchdown. Wideout Eric Rinehart (6-0, 170) has caught six passes for 96 yards and a touchdown.
Caruthersville is led on defense by linebacker Mikey Lack (6-0, 185) who leads the Tigers in tackles. Against Earle, Ark., Lack racked up 11 tackles. Defensive back Aaron Borders (6-1, 210) plays close to the line of scrimmage and last game had 10 tackles. Borders will be counted on to help defend the run and look for him to be close to 10 tackles again on the night against Dexter.
The defensive line for Caruthersville will be led by Matt Hazel (6-0, 210) and Evan Gibson (6-1, 230). Last game, Hazel recorded eight tackles and assisted on three. Gerling stated that Gibson will be a question mark against Dexter as he has an ankle sprain.
"They are very talented on defense and are hard-nosed," said Pixley. "We are going to have to play very well to win."
Gerling is pleased with the overall effort of his young defense.
"They are young and every week they are getting better and starting to understand the system."
Like Dexter, the Tigers feature a top notch running back in Kendrickus Reed (6-0, 195). Reed leads the area in rushing with 1,163 yards and is tied for the lead in rushing touchdowns with 14. Reed is coming off a monster game as he rushed for 267 yards.
"He (Reed) is doing a great job for us," said Gerling. "He has made great strides not only as a football player but also as an individual. He has gotten a lot smarter and is a workhorse for us."
Senior quarterback Keith Creekmore (6-3, 175) has been shaky all season as he has thrown for 13 interceptions. Creekmore has completed 31 passes good for 420 yards and four touchdowns.
Sophomore Rashad Fields (6-3, 200) will be the primary target for the Tigers and has 13 receptions for 177 yards and two touchdowns.
Senior Jason Tate (6-3, 165) has seven receptions for 97 yards and two touchdowns.
"The quarterback does a great job with the offense," said Pixley. "You can tell he's been there. He's been through the wars. The running back (Reed) started most of the games last year for them as a sophomore and he is a good running back. He is a good-sized kid who can flat run."
Pixley is also concerned with the tall and talented receivers from Caruthersville.
"The quarterback is a good passer," said Pixley. "Even though they graduated some great receivers, they still have some good receivers on the team that can make some plays. Offensively they can dominate. We have to tackle well and we've got to put pressure on the quarterback to win the game. They have turned the ball over a little bit the last three or four games but if they ever stop doing that, they're a force to be reckoned with."
Dexter will be led on defense by its linebackers. With Davis, Austin Matthews (5-9, 180) and Ventura roving from sideline to sideline. The linebacking corps will be counted on to try and cage Reed.
"Dexter is a big, physical football team who will take it to you," said Gerling. "We have to match their intensity and win the battle in the trenches."
Both Dexter and Caruthersville will bring to the field vaunted rushing attacks and the key to victory for either team will be the play by the offensive and defensive lines.
"With a team like Caruthersville that can hit you with big plays you've got to try and keep the ball out of their hands as much as you can," said Pixley. "You've got to be very physical on offense and pound the football and pick your spots to throw it. Caruthersville is very capable of beating good football teams so we have to work hard and stay together and be confident and have a lot of energy all night long."