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Sunday, Aug. 28, 2016

NMCC to host Caruthersville in key conference matchup

Friday, September 29, 2006

NEW MADRID -- Last week, the New Madrid County Central Eagles had to not only overcome the opposition, the Charleston Bluejays, but some adverse conditions created by Mother Nature as well.

As a result of a devastating rainstorm, which affected many in the New Madrid County area, the Eagles' game against then-undefeated Charleston was cancelled on Friday and Saturday, before finally being played on Sunday.

"We kind of felt like we went from a high to a low, back to a high again on Saturday, then back to a low when it was cancelled again," said NMCC coach Arlen Pixley. "Then on Sunday, I thought we came out flat."

After falling behind by a score of 21-6 midway through the third quarter, the Eagles rallied for a 28-21 comeback victory.

It doesn't get any easier this week with the high-powered, and likely peeved, Caruthersville Tigers, coming off their first loss of the season, guests for Friday night's homecoming game.

Said Pixley, "We're talking about two days less rest and distractions with homecoming week, so it presents a challenge, then, oh by the way, we've got to play Caruthersville, which may be the most talented team in Southeast Missouri. So, it presents a great challenge for us as coaches and as players."

Each team comes in 3-1 overall in a tie for first place atop the SEMO Conference's Central Division standings with one win and no losses.

Caruthersville, 14-6 losers to Hayti on Saturday, has endured its share of distractions and inconveniences this season, too, being forced to play all of its games on the road due to the destruction of the football stadium by a tornado in April.

The Tigers, who fell out of the state rankings this week, will certainly look to reestablish themselves as one of the regions' premier offenses.

The Tigers are led by 6-1, 200-pound all-state running back Kendrickus Reed, who paces all area backs with 955 rushing yards -- 400 more than the runner-up -- and also has an area-best 13 touchdowns.

Wingback Tristan Sparks, a transfer from Memphis, has rushed for 276 yards with two TDs and double-threat Rashad Fields leads the receivers with six catches for 92 yards and has rushed for 70 yards on seven touches.

"Kendrickus Reed is Kendrickus Reed and we've got to do what we have to do to stop him," said Pixley, "but with Starks and Fields, it's a three-headed monster and their quarterback can hurt you, too."

Tiger signalcaller Jake Van Ausdall has thrown for one score and run for another.

NMCC has no one in Reed's class but does have the luxury of depth with four backs who have rushed for 100 yards or more, led by tailbacks Marquese Gates with 386 and four TDs and DeAnton Brown with 251 and one TD.

Quarterback Leslie Williams has added 183 ground yards and freshman Lennies McFerren III has 107.

Williams has proven himself a scoring triple threat; rushing for three TDS, passing for five -- tied with Cape Central's Blake Slattery for the area lead -- and returning an interception for a score.

Wide receiver Tommy Rowe leads the Eagle receivers with five catches for 136 yards and three TDs. Rowe is also a dangerous kick returner.

"We're not a high-powered offense that go out and score 50 points to win football games; we need to win the time-of-possession battle and play great defense," said Pixley. "The last thing we want to do is turn this thing into a fastbreak football game."