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Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014

Bulldogs to host NMCC on homecoming night

Thursday, October 5, 2006

(Photo)
Sikeston Bulldog junior tailback Byron Davis leads the team in nearly every offensive category.
SIKESTON -- Still in search of that ever-elusive first win, Sikeston will host the New Madrid County Central Eagles on homecoming night tomorrow at SPS Stadium at 7 p.m.

The Bulldogs will be facing a team that has had a resurgence this season as the Eagles come into the game with a 4-1 record.

NMCC owes its only loss to Class 4 Poplar Bluff, 24-6 in Week 3. But the Eagles have managed to defeat conference foes Charleston and Caruthersville and slipped by Class 4 Cape Central in Week 2.

Despite Sikeston's 0-5 record, NMCC coach Arlen Pixley isn't taking the Bulldogs lightly.

"We've only won once at Sikeston in the history of these two teams playing against each other, so it's going to be a big game for us," said Pixley. "Last year Sikeston was winless at this point and we were just getting on a roll and they gave us a battle all the way to the end."

NMCC's only win on Sikeston's home turf came back in 2000. Sikeston has had pretty good success against the Eagles, holding a 12-6 advantage in the series history.

Last year, Sikeston took a 16-7 lead into the fourth quarter, but NMCC rallied in the final few minutes to pull out the victory on its own homecoming night.

Sikeston had to wait another week against Kennett to post its first and only victory.

"We've been there before and I know what it's like," said Pixley. "Kids start pressing and coaches are pressing. They're hungry for a win and they're going to be intense and we've got to match their intensity. Teams like Sikeston are more hungry to win right now than teams that are probably undefeated."

Sikeston head coach Jerry Dement said his team isn't thinking about last year's disappointing loss to the Eagles. They're just focused on taking care of themselves.

"Last year is last year, we had a chance and didn't take advantage of it," said Dement. "They came back to beat us in a tough ballgame. Our kids always get ready for New Madrid. It's a pretty good local rivalry. It's our homecoming and we want to play well."

The Bulldogs have seen their fair share of adversity, most notably two-year starting quarterback Chase Ferrell going down with a season-ending leg injury.

Sikeston has tried two different starters, Michael Payne and Charlie Bohannon, but it appears the sophomore Bohannon has stepped into the regular starting role.

Bohannon had an adequate game last week against Farmington. His numbers weren't eye-catching, but he didn't turn the ball over, which was the main thing Dement was concerned with.

"I thought he did fine in his first game as a varsity starter," said Dement. "He ran the offense effectively and didn't make too many mistakes. He's not turning the ball over so far. It's a growing process. Any time you throw a young guy into the fire like that it's a learning process. This is his opportunity and he's going to have to seize the moment."

With Bohannon at quarterback, Dement can move Michael Payne to his regular position of slot back, which gives Sikeston and extra weapon carrying the ball.

Byron Davis leads Sikeston in most offensive categories, including 219 rushing yards and three touchdowns this season. He also leads the team with eight receptions for 84 yards and is a dangerous kick return man.

NMCC is led by senior tailback Marquese Gates who is sixth in the area in rushing with 473 yards and five touchdowns.

Junior quarterback Leslie Williams is as much a threat with his legs as his arm as he has rushed for 248 yards with four touchdowns.

He's only completed 9-of-27 passes for 210 yards, but of his nine completions, six have gone for touchdowns.

"He's a run-pass threat and you better make sure you contain him when he's got the ball in his hands," said Dement. "Plus they've got several kids they can get the ball to. They've got a strong running game this year and that's been their strength."

The recipient of most completions is Tommy Rowe, with eight catches for 142 yards and four touchdowns.

Another tough running threat is senior DeAnton Brown, who has 283 yards on 50 carries with a touchdown.

"We're going to run what we run and see how it goes," said Pixley. "We haven't really worried so much about what they do on defense, but we look at what they've done on offense."

Also getting some reps this year have been freshman quarterback Dontre Jenkins and freshman running back Lennies McFerren III.

Junior Dylan Harris will see carries from the fullback position.

NMCC enters the game ranked sixth in the Southeast Missouri region.

"They're a good, solid ballclub," said Dement. "They have good athletes, they're well-coached and they're playing with confidence. They're going to be a handful."