KENNETT -- With district football right around the corner, the Sikeston Bulldogs will try to head into next week on a positive note as they visit the Kennett Indians on Friday night at 7 p.m.
The Bulldogs (0-6) and the Indians (1-4) have been on similar paths this season with both teams struggling to post victories.
"I think we're looking at team that's similar to us in some ways," said Sikeston coach Jerry Dement. "They're playing a lot of young players and they're struggling. They've won one ballgame and they're looking to get some positive things going before district play just like we are."
Kennett's only win has come against winless Portageville in Week 5 as they routed the Bulldogs 42-0.
Sikeston has really only had a chance in two games this year, losing by seven points to both Charleston (13-6) and New Madrid County Central (27-20) last week.
Even in defeat, the Bulldogs showed improvement last week against the Eagles, particularly in the passing game as they set a season-high in yards with 255.
"We've tried to correct our problems and we look to improve week to week, and I think we have the last two weeks," said Dement. "We had a much better effort Friday night against New Madrid. Hopefully we can build from that even though it was a loss. But we did some things right last week."
Sikeston entered last year's game with Kennett in the same situation at 0-6. The Bulldogs defeated the Indians 27-20 in a tightly contested game that proved to be the team's only win of the season.
"I don't think we're in a position right now where we can take anyone lightly," said Kennett coach Kirk Welch. "We're definitely not overlooking Sikeston because we felt like we had a shot at winning that game last year and we want to get back at them.
"To me, it's not about payback, it's about going out and winning a ballgame. But I know the kids that were with us last year, it's probably more of a revenge factor for them than it is for us as a coaching staff."
Sikeston sophomore quarterback Charlie Bohannon had a big day against NMCC in just his second varsity start, throwing for 193 yards, completing 12-
of-17 passes with two scores.
"(Bohannon) does a nice job -- that's one of the things that we've worked on this week is our pass defense," said Welch. "Of course, you always have to stop the run, but we played the pass defense better all year, and we expect that trend to continue."
Junior running back Byron Davis continues to be Sikeston's top playmaker as he caught five passes for 104 yards, including a 73-yard touchdown on a screen pass. He leads the team in rushing (235 yards), receiving (188), kick returns (31.2 average) and scoring (four touchdowns).
"He's a good back -- he's a good athlete," said Welch. "He does a lot of things well. They've got some decent speed (and) he's no slouch speedwise."
Bulldog senior wideout Joey Williams is also a top threat, catching eight passes for 164 yards with a score. Brandon Wright caught his first pass of the season last week, going for a 70-yard touchdown.
One area the Bulldogs will have to improve is in the rushing department. The team averages just 68 yards rushing per game and just 2.4 yards per carry. Sikeston managed just three rushing yards last week against NMCC, although some of the total was skewed from quarterback sacks.
"When we throw the ball as much as we do with an inexperienced quarterback you're going to have that sometimes," said Dement of the sacks. "But we still have to improve our rushing game -- that part has to get better. We have to get our total offensive package going with the run and the pass."
Kennett counters with a balanced offensive attack with running back Ben Howard leading the way on the ground (438 yards, four touchdowns) and sophomore quarterback Blake Parr (6-foot-4, 160) leading the charge through the air with 202 yards.
Mario McGraw, a 6-4, 200-pound senior, is the team's top athlete. He's caught four passes for 94 yards despite missing a couple games due to injury, but he is a threat in the return game as well.
But it's the Indians' immense size on the offensive and defensive lines that has Dement worried.
The Indians' average size on the offensive line is 258 pounds, over 20 more pounds than Sikeston's line collectively.
"Their size up front on both sides of the ball concerns us," said Dement. "They've got some big people and we're going to have to find a way to move them off the football. That probably concerns me as much as anything."
Sikeston and Kennett have two common opponents so far in Charleston and Caruthersville. The Bulldogs lost to Caruthersville 38-8 and Charleston 13-6. Kennett lost to Charleston 21-7 and then Caruthersville 33-0.
The Indians had a game with East Prairie canceled this year due to severe weather.
Sikeston owns the series history with Kennett with a whopping 51-7-1 advantage. This will be the 60th meeting between the two schools.