DEXTER -- Looking to improve on last year's 5-6 record, one of the Dexter Bearcats top priorities entering the upcoming season is to prevent the lopsided losses they suffered last season.
"I believe the six losses we had were by close to 30 and 40 points," Bearcat's head coach Aaron Pixley said. "You can't play like that. If we are unfortunate enough to lose a football game, it needs to be a battle all the way down to the end.
"We need to make sure we're more competitive as a football team and make sure we're there for all four quarters as a football team. If we do that, you won't see scores like that anymore."
One encouraging sign for Dexter is that four of those losses in 2009 came at the start of the season with the Bearcats winnings five of their final six regular season games to make the playoffs.
Once there, however, Potosi would put an end to their season, defeating the Bearcats 56-20 in the Class 3 Regionals opening round.
If the Bearcats hope to make a deeper push into the playoffs this time around they will need some new faces to step up in some key skill positions.
Lost to graduation is most of last year's top offensive playmakers including All-SEMO Central Conference quarterback Ben Mills who last season threw for 1,505 yards and 19 touchdowns.
Besides Mills the Bearcats also lost four other All-SEMO Central Conference players in wide recieiver Ryan Windham, kicker Dylan Acevedo, linebacker Hunter Bruce and wide receiver/defensive back Gary Summers.
Summers was the Bearcats leading receiver last season with 633 yards while their leading rusher, Wes McCollough with 705 yards, will also be gone.
"Our biggest lack of experience is in the skills positions on offense," Pixley said. "We're basically replacing everyone of them, but the tight end."
"But we have a lot of kids back this year that got quite a bit of playing time. So it's not as if Friday night should scare them."
The tight end Pixley was referring to is senior Morgan Hedrick who finished last season with 19 catches for 265 yards and 3 touchdowns and is one of the Bearcats top returning offensive weapons.
Along with Hedrick, Dexter also returns plenty of experience on the line including three All-SEMO Central Conference selections in senior defensive lineman Aaron Mace, junior guard Brandon Moore and junior tackle Zach Lacey.
Having those veterans on the offensive line should prove key if the Bearcats are to establish the style of offense they want to run.
"You very seldom see just a strictly passing team win a state championship," Pixley said. "You have to have the running game and you have to be able to throw the ball, so we want to do both. That's our goal going in every year is to be good at both. You have to get physical to be a good running game.
"That's something that I feel like that we haven't done a real good job of is getting physical enough to have a great running game the past few years. So hopefully we can get to that point. We have some good kids, their coachable, they come from good families and they have good attitudes right now so we're excited for them."
Dexter will look to get off to a hot start tomorrow when it kicks off its season on the road against St. Genevieve at 7 p.m.
Ste. Genevieve currently hold a three-game winning streak over the Bearcats as the two teams annually open the season against each other.
"Always a tough game on us," Pixley said. "They run an offensive scheme that is very difficult for us to match up with. They're well coached and they're going to be a better football team this year. They have a second year quarterback who is a junior. He's a dandy.
"They play hard. It's a very difficult task for us first game, but this is football it's not suppose to be easy so we're going to go up to Ste. Gen, play as hard as we can and see what happens."