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Bulldogs run over previously undefeated Kennett

Sunday, October 12, 2008

(Photo)
Kennett's Cameron Conder (right) tackles Sikeston's Jarian Wims during the first half of Friday's high school football game at Metz Cherry Stadium in Kennett. Mike Buhler, SEMO News Service
KENNETT -- The Sikeston Bulldogs football team surged past the previously undefeated Kennett Indians 45-7 Friday night on the road in Kennett.

However, the Bulldogs offensive game plan looked uncertain Friday afternoon. With starting quarterback Charlie Bohannon sidelined this week with an injury and backup Sam Erwin out with a fever, Sikeston gave the nod to junior Jordan Williams at quarterback. Wiliams, who usually plays wide receiver, has not taken a snap at quarterback since his eighth grade year.

Williams was able to provide mistake-free and steady play for the Bulldogs.

"Jordan's (Williams) play gave us all a mental lift tonight," Sikeston head coach Kent Gibbs said after Friday's road victory. "When you get ready to play and you have a guy that hasn't taken any snaps at quarterback, your kids kind of look around and ask 'what's going to happen'. I'll say this, everyone rallied around him and played hard. He did a great job of managing the game for us. We told the kids, 'hey, we're going to run it tonight, receivers you won't get much action, but get out there and block for us.' They (receivers) did just that. Our offensive line did a great job at the point of attack. Jordan (Williams) just did a great job of listening to us (the coaches) and executing our game plan. We wanted to keep their offense off the field, and that's what we did."

Junior running back Eli Jackson led the way on the ground with 131 yards on 18 carries and three touchdown. Many other Sikeston rushers added quality carries to push Sikeston's rushing total to 260 yards.

"We have several kids who run the ball for us that are hurt right now," Gibbs said. "But the kids who ran for us tonight ran hard and did a great job. Eli Jackson did a great job out there tonight. But, what we are trying to do is spread the carries around to take some of the pressure off of Eli (Jackson) so the defense can't key in on him. We were able to do that. Jarian Wims ran like 'a man possessed' for us tonight. C.J. Council had some really nice runs."

Gibbs is quick to point out that the offensive success of the Bulldogs is in large part due to the hard work of the offensive line

"All our boys ran hard, but we can't do that without blocking, so the credit has to go to the offensive line," he said. "Going into the game, we felt like we had to get back to playing physical football on both sides of the ball. We did that tonight. We got after our offensive linemen in practice this week and they really stepped up to the challenge and played great. Early on, we opened up some pretty good holes. As the game progressed, Kennett adjusted to try and stop the run, but our boys (on the offensive line) just kept plugging and communicating. Tonight was a total team win."

Gibbs feels that his defenses execution of the game plan and intensity played a major role in Friday's victory, as Sikeston was able to hold Kennett's star quarterback Blake Parr to 240 yards and only one touchdown.

"I think we had a good defensive scheme tonight," he said. "We felt like, from watching game film, that no one had ever really tried to put pressure on the kid (Blake Parr). We didn't know how he would react. So we decided that we really wanted to get after him tonight with some different blitz packages. Our defensive line did an excellent job with that. Our linebackers did a good job containing his underneath passes which really limited their big plays.

Gibbs was especially pleased with the play of his secondary Friday night.

"I can't say enough about our secondary, they defended his pass attempts very well," he said. "When you throw the ball like Kennett does, your going to get some completions and some of the shorter passes. But what you have to do as a defense is punish them on the tackle once they do. You have to make it not so easy on them. I could mention names, but everyone on the defense, from the line to the secondary, hit hard and just played well tonight."

Gibbs says that another major aspect of his teams victory was their ability to finish strong.

"We haven't done very good at times finishing games this year," he said. "So I told our kids at halftime, 'play like there is no scoreboard'. We came out and played with the same intensity in the second half as we did in the first and finished the game. That was huge."

Clock and field management played significant roles in the Bulldogs win. Sikeston's average starting field position was the Kennett 44-yard line, compared to the Indians average starting field position of their own 32-yard line. The Bulldogs were able to control the ball most of the game as well.

"One of the things we have really worked on is our time of possession," Gibbs said of the teams clock management. "We have scored so quick on people this year and thrown our defense right back out there. Tonight, with our quarterbacks out, we felt like we had to really slow things down and manage that clock. I don't think we snapped the ball with more than three of four seconds on the play clock. The really good thing about it is that it didn't slow our intensity on offense down. Hopefully, we can continue to do that."

Kennett head coach Kirk Welch declined to comment after Friday night's game.

Gibbs feels that Friday's win was a "big step in the right direction" and say's that he and his team are ready for districts.

"I think we made a big step tonight," he said. "We handled the adversity of not having our primary quarterbacks playing tonight very well. We made adjustments and did what we had to do to get a win. I think that our district is wide open. The West Plains game should be a good on. In our district, it depends on who shows up ready to play and it's wide open I feel."

Gibbs notes that he hopes the community is as excited about Sikeston football as he and his team are.

"I know it's a long trip to West Plains," he said. "But hopefully we get some people to follow us up there. Our boy's are pretty excited. We won on the road against a previously undefeated team. Anytime you can do that, you should be excited."