(Photos by David Jenkins, Staff)
NEW MADRID -- Less than a week after scoring 72 points against the Ste. Genevieve Dragons, the New Madrid County Central Eagles were held scoreless by the Cardinal Ritter Lions who advanced to the semifinal round in high school football by defeating NMCC 20-0. The winds were up and the temperature was down on Saturday afternoon in New Madrid, and head coach Arlen Pixley said that weather conditions played a small role in the defeat.
"We really hoped that we would've done better," said Pixley. "We got off to a slow start and you can't do that in these conditions. Our passing game was pretty much nil with the high winds we've got out here."
As for the contest, the Lions scored three times, each time by running back Maurice Taylor. Taylor scored in the first quarter at 6:32 on a 6-yard run, in the second quarter on an 82-yard run and in the third quarter on a 10-yard run. Trey Perry added a two-point conversion run on the TD in the second quarter.
Taylor finished the game with 120 yards on just seven carries while Perry actually accumulated the most rushing yards as he added 127 yards on 20 carries.
Pixley said that despite the loss, he and his staff are proud of their squad.
"I told them (after the game) that we're very proud of them," said Pixley. "We got a lot of mileage out of them. We got some guys battling in there, what can you say? Nobody expected us to be here. Everybody wrote us off for dead at the start of the season when we started out 1-2.
"The bottom line is that we're super proud of them," he added. "I've got two seniors that have been with me for four years and a few seniors that came out for their first time out and really helped out our program. My hat's off to them, we couldn't have done it without them."
Pixley commented on the play of Dontre Jenkins, calling him a 'good returning player' coming into next season. Jenkins finished the game 1-for-2 passing for 13 yards and had nine carries for 17 yards.
G'Darius Stevenson had 14 carries for 56 yards and Bryan Waters had 15 carries for 28 yards to round out the top rushers for the Eagles. As a team, NMCC had 121 total yards while the Lions had 245.
Simmons said that his defense 'swarmed to the ball' each time that NMCC handed off.
"It was just assignment football," said Simmons. "We were just putting guys in the gaps in pursuit to the ball. They have some guys with a lot of speed so we had to pursue outside with our lineman also."
Cardinal Ritter is now 12-1 on the season and will move on to the semifinals while the Eagles will now regroup and work towards next season. Pixley said that there's really no way to measure how good the NMCC squad in 2009 will be because they haven't hit the weight room yet and haven't gone through the routine of what it takes to hit the field for a long season. He said that he hopes the kids will remember the season-ending loss when they start conditioning next year and hopes that it gets them ready.
"We've got to roll this Eagle thing a little harder in the offseason and see where we're at next year," said Pixley. "My hat's off to my guys. It was a great season and there's a lot of teams that would love to be where we're at right now."
NMCC closes the season with a 10-3 record.