SIKESTON -- The Sikeston Bulldogs football team will take to the road again this week as they travel to West Plains to take on the 1-6 Zizzers this Friday.
Although West Plains is 1-6, Sikeston head coach Kent Gibbs is quick to point out that this is not a true representation of the kind of team they are.
"West Plains is 1-6, and that's the first thing everyone is going to notice," Gibbs said. "But, that record is very deceiving. There are a couple of things you need to think about when you look at the 1-6 record. First, they (West Plains) were 2-5 going into district play last year and won the district. Second, they play in a predominantly 5A conference against very good teams. Also, they beat Wanyesville, who is the defending 5A state champion, last week to get their first win."
Gibbs also notes that the Zizzers have star running back Tommy Meyor returning from injury.
"Their running back, Tommy Meyor, is returning from injury," he said."So they will have him back in the mix. He was able to run all over us last year, so that will be someone we have to find a way to contain."
Limiting big plays will be a primary focus of the Bulldogs defense Friday night. The sibling combination of Meyor and his brother Joey (wide receiver) will be especially dangerous.
"What we are going to have to be able to do is prevent Tommy and Joey Meyor from making big plays on us," Gibbs said. "That is a major theme for us."
The Bulldogs (4-3) should bring plenty of momentum with them after knocking off previously undefeated Kennett on the road last week.
Gibbs looks to bring a lot of the things his team did well last week with them to West Plains.
"We played very good defense last week in Kennett," he said. "The other thing we were working on last week was playing a 'full' game, not just one half, and we did that. We blocked very consistently as well. We did a good job of hustling. I was pleased overall with last week's performance. Those are the kind of things we need to do every week."
The cornerstone of the Sikeston offense will again be junior running back Eli Jackson, who has complied 1,000 yards and 16 touchdowns on 120 carries so far this year.
However, questions still remain as to who will take the opening snap at quarterback for the Bulldogs this Friday as senior and primary starter Charlie Bohannon continues to battle back from injury.
Sam Erwin and Jordan Williams will both be able to start if Bohannon is unable to play, but Gibbs says no matter who starts, his team will have to throw the ball to win.
"Charlie Bohannon starting the game for us is about a 50 percent chance at this time," Gibbs said during Wednesdays interview. "Now, if Charlie can't go, we will make a call today or tomorrow on whether Sam Erwin or Jordan Williams will start for us.We have to throw the ball more than we did last week. We will throw the ball no matter who we have a quarterback."
Gibbs says his offense will need to be potent and control the ball Friday to keep up with West Plains.
"We have to score a lot of points to have a good shot at winning this game," he said."We have to try and control the clock and the tempo of the game as we did last week. We can not allow West Plains to be on the field for long periods of times."
Sikeston's defense will have to play solid and efficient football to limit West Plains offensive attack.
"This week is different than the Kennett game in the fact that with Kennett we were able to focus on stopping the pass," Gibbs said. "West Plains has a double threat in that they can run and throw the ball. They (West Plains) run a lot of jailbreak screens and counter options, and those will present challenges to us. We have to really work to limit their big plays. We have to play sharp assignment football Friday."
Gibbs also points our execution of tackles as a "must" for his defense Friday.
"Another thing we must do defensively is execute our tackles," he said. "We have to swarm the ball and get a lot of helmets on the ball carrier. But more importantly, when we do hit them we have to wrap them up. We did a good job of playing more physical last week, we just need to continue that trend of improving in that regard."
The Bulldogs desire to win and improve is one of their strong suits.
"Our 'want to' is definitely there to win this game and be competitive in districts," Gibbs said. "We are excited about what we have accomplished so far this year. But, we realize that we still have a long way to go. What this all boils down to is our execution of the fundamentals of football. We have to execute to be successful. We have been working to keep our practices consistently good and to improve in every way we can."
Gibbs feels that the district competition is up for grabs.
"Our district could be wide open," he said. "There is really no way to tell what could happen. West Plains, Farmington, and Poplar Bluff are all tough teams. But, it will really depend on who shows up to these games ready to play. I don't think anyone will go through district play without losing, its going to be a tough challenge."
Gibbs says that although winning districts would be an "uphill battle", its something his team will work toward.
"I hope we can show up ready to play and represent ourselves well this Friday. We haven't been in the mix for a district title since our last title in 1995. We just have to play our best and hardest. We have to take these games one at a time and see what happens."
The game will kick off at 7 p.m. in West Plains.