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SHS to take on rival Mules

Friday, September 17, 2010

(Photo)
Treston Pulley and the Sikeston defense will look to shut down the Poplar Bluff Mules tonight. David Jenkins, Staff
POPLAR BLUFF -- The recent history between the Sikeston Bulldogs and Poplar Bluff Mules hasn't been short on memorable games.

Just last year, the two teams met twice late in the season with huge stakes on the line. The first game between them ended up deciding a district title for the Bulldogs while the latter sent Sikeston into the Class 4 quarterfinal round of the state tournament.

However, this year's one and only meeting between them will not have district or playoff implications strung to it. Before the season, Poplar Bluff moved up to Class 5 leaving behind a chance at another late season match-up.

Although, that doesn't mean tonight's Week 4 game will lose any of it's luster.

"It will be interesting," Sikeston head coach Kent Gibbs said. "We're going to their place and they feel they owe us a little pay back (from last year). We're going to have to play hard to come out with a win."

Coming off their impressive 41-0 win over the Dexter Bearcats last week, the Bulldogs will have another tough challenge on their hands trying to stop one of the area's shiftiest running backs in Poplar Bluff's Pete Bryant.

Bryant has ran for 330 yards the past two weeks and is undoubtedly Poplar Bluff's big play guy.

"We've got to keep Pete Bryant from getting all the yards he has been getting," said Gibbs. "There's no doubt, he's the guy that gets their big yards. We can't let him run wild."

Along with Bryant, who is one of 22 seniors for Poplar Bluff, the Mules (1-2) will also look to senior quarterback Josh Freeman. Freeman has shown signs of beating teams with his arm and keeping opposing teams honest by not just keying on Bryant.

"I think the best way to describe their other players is consistent," Gibbs said. "I know they've had a lot of injuries and they've had to replace people, but they're consistent in what they do. When they're clicking, as they were against New Madrid, and you get (Bryant) on a roll, he could be trouble."

Bryant and the rest of the Mules, however, will have to try and figure out Sikeston's Scroogelike defense the past two weeks. Since their first game of the season, when Obion County torched them for over 400 yards, the Bulldogs (3-0) have been relentless on stopping the opposing offense giving up just six points the previous two weeks.

Just as recently as their last game, Gibbs saw something in his defense that he hasn't seen yet this season.

"We feel like our defense really played well last week and kind of showed us some things that we didn't know," he said. "They showed us that, No. 1, we can play physical on defense. The other thing we kept Dexter from doing was making the big play. They got some yards on us, but we didn't give up a lot of big plays.

"If we can continue to do that and continue to get better, we think our defense can end up being pretty good."

Another thing that was 'pretty good' for the Bulldogs last week was the breakout performance from Sikeston quarterback Trey Lewis, who amassed 364 total yards himself against the physical defense of the Bearcats.

As other members of the Bulldogs' offense were trumped, Lewis created plays on the fly leading to his best offensive game to date.

"No doubt he had a great game," said Gibbs. "(Dexter) did a nice job of shutting down our inside reads and (Lewis) pulled it a couple of times and made some good reads. He also just made some fabulous plays just out in the open that really weren't called plays, so he kind of ad-libbed.

"The key for him is going to be consistency and really, that's the key for our offense so we won't have to rely on the big play."

There's no doubt that if Lewis continues to progress the way he has and the defense remains stingy, the Bulldogs have a good chance at taking another step at defending their SEMO North Conference championship beginning tonight.