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Tuesday, Sep. 2, 2014

SHS to open season against talented Tigers

Thursday, August 31, 2006

(Photo)
Quarterback Chase Ferrell will lead the Sikeston Bulldogs.
SIKESTON -- When the Caruthersville Tigers visit SPS Stadium tomorrow night, it shouldn't be any secret who the Bulldogs should focus their defense.

In fact, the Bulldogs should know him quite well.

Senior running back Kendrickus Reed torched the Bulldog defense in last year's season-opener for more than 200 yards and six touchdowns on his way to an all-state season.

The 6-1, 200-pounder amassed an area-best 2,239 yards with 26 touchdowns and immediately became a household name among high school football fans.

The Bulldogs will get another chance to try to slow him down tomorrow at 7 p.m.

"We know we've got a chore ahead of us," said Sikeston coach Jerry Dement. "No. 1, we've got to stop Kendrickus Reed. He's one of the premier running backs in the area. He had a lot of yards and a lot of touchdowns last year. They kind of revolve around him.

"You have to get a lot of people to him. When he gets the ball, he's liable to make one or two of them miss. He's a very good open field runner with good vision and a nose for the end zone. I don't know if you can totally stop him, but we're going to sure be aware of where he is."

Caruthersville is coming off a third straight district championship as they were ousted in the sectional round of the state playoffs to finish 5-6.

The Tigers enter Friday's game ranked eighth in the Class 3 preseason poll compiled by sportswriters and sportscasters across the state.

Besides Reed, the Tigers return plenty of weapons.

Junior quarterback Jake VanAusdall started one game last year, completing 4-

of-4 passes for 81 yards with a TD.

"He got some quality reps for us last year," said Caruthersville coach Brad Gerling. "He started a game for us at one point in the season and he's been around the offense."

The team's top wide receiver, Rashad Fields, also returns, catching 21 passes for 329 yards with four scores. Fields rushed for 189 yards on 32 carries with a score as well.

Plus, most of the offensive line returns intact from last year headlined by the massive 6-2, 270-pound Ted VanAusdall.

The Caruthersville offensive line on average is slightly larger than Sikeston's by comparison, 237 pounds to the Bulldogs' 234.

In the wake of the devastating tornado that ripped through the town, Caruthersville has taken advantage of the extra practice time while the school was being repaired.

"We've been blessed in a way after the tornado and the late start of school," said Gerling. "While everybody else was back in school, we were still going two-a-days and we've been able to get a lot more work in than we normally would. I feel right now that we're further along than we would have been. Things are promising right now. I feel like the team we're going to put on the field on Friday night will be better than what we had last year. Hopefully we can still come out on the positive end."

The Bulldogs also return some key offensive players, namely junior quarterback Chase Ferrell, who threw for 630 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions last year.

"It's nice to have an experienced quarterback," said Dement. "He kind of had baptism by fire as a sophomore, but he grew and grew and got better and better as the year went along. We're pleased we've got his leadership back there."

Senior fullback Jerod Scott and junior running back Byron Davis also return after seeing limited time last year. Scott rushed for 208 yards while Davis tallied 117 yards.

Joey Williams (4 catches, 85 yards, 2 TDs) and Austin Williams will get the start at wide receiver.

Newcomer Michael Payne will get the nod at slot back.

With a different offensive look and improved speed, Dement says his team will try to spread the field a little more instead of the smashmouth mentality of the past.

"Last year we kind of had to deal with what we had," said Dement. "We had a lot of youth and we weren't as skilled as we are this year. Now we've got several kids we think can do good things with the football. Offensively we've got to be diversified and take what they give us. I feel like our offensive line is starting to come around. The longer they play together as a unit the better they will get. If they have a good ballgame we'll be able to move the football."

On defense, the Bulldogs have changed schemes and will deploy a 3-5 defensive front. By comparison, Caruthersville will use a 6-2 front.

Salamar Cox and Scott are the leading returning tacklers, registering 52 and 51 respectively.

At 6-3, 280 pounds, all-conference nose guard Robert Madison will anchor the three-man defensive line.

"They're going to be much-improved from last year," said Gerling. "They're doing some things different offensively and defensively. We'll adapt to the players that we have. With the lack of experience that we had last year, we ran the ball more than we had in the past. But this year with some of the guys we have returning, we may be able to open it up a little more and get further into the playbook."

The Bulldogs have also been putting more time into their special teams after struggling in the department last season.

"We've put a lot of extra emphasis on special teams and hopefully that will be a plus for us," said Dement.