DEXTER -- Dexter running back Zach Ventura broke the 1000 yard rushing mark for the season as the Bearcats defeated the Kennett Indians, 37-0, at home Friday night on a rain soaked Charles Bland Stadium field.
The win sets up a showdown with New Madrid County Central next week for the Class 3, District 1 championship and the SEMO Conference's Central Division title. Both Dexter (8-1) and New Madrid (7-2) will enter Thursday night's game at Dexter with 2-0 district records and 3-0 conference marks.
Ventura rambled through the sludge for 146 yards on 36 carries and scored three touchdowns. His long run of the night came on a 27 yard burst on the Bearcats' last scoring drive in the fourth quarter. The senior scored on runs of one, six and ten yards which left him with 15 TD's on the season and ran his total yards for the season to 1,090.
"I think the best part of our effort tonight was the fact that we didn't have any fumbles," Dexter coach Aaron Pixley said after the game, noting the adverse weather conditions. "For Zach to carry the ball 35 or 36 times and not fumble, and get some big yards for us when we needed it, was key because you didn't want to set back and have to pass every time on a night like this.
"The key to this football game on offense was holding on to it (the ball), taking care of it, chewing some clock, plus we played some great defense after that long run," Pixley added.
It was a scoreless game when Kennett's Demetrius Childress broke lose for a 66 yard run up the middle on the Indians' second possession of the game. Dexter's Chad Ventura saved a touchdown on the play when he tracked Childress down from behind at the Bearcats' 11 yard line. On the next play, Kennett quarterback Blake Parr fumbled the ball back to Dexter.
"We played good defense," Pixley said. "We gave up that one long run and we were fortunate to get that fumble, but then we took in down and scored and that's what you've got to do when you get breaks like that."
Dexter's defense began to exert itself after the Kennett turnover and shut the Indians down for the remainder of the game. Childress finished with a net 45 yards on the night and the Indians as team could only muster 60 rushing yards for the game. Through the air, the Indians were a minus four yards and finished the game with just five first downs and 56 total net yards.
To date, the Bearcats have allowed just 56 points and have back-to-back shutouts to open district play.
Quarterback Josh Stevens was workman-like in his effort in the soupy conditions. Stevens completed 10-of-18 passes for 193 yards and one touchdown to Logan Swindle, a 48-yard strike for Dexter's second score of the game. The senior signal-caller also added a 5-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter that put Dexter up, 28-0, after Ventura punched across the 2-
point conversion with 10:10 remaining on the game clock.
The last game of the season will be played on Thursday night to accommodate the district winner, which will have a short week to prepare for the first-round of the playoffs.
The Dexter-New Madrid contest should be one of the highlights of the high school football season in southeast Missouri.
"They (NMCC) are going to come in confident," Pixley said. "They are very good. They have a lot of great athletes over there - very strong. They have a very good weight program over there and we'll have to bring our weight program to the table to.
"Its going to be physical," he added. "They are a very physical team and they are very well coached so it should be a great game."