DEXTER -- The New Madrid County Central Eagles found themselves in a shootout last week with the Fredericktown Blackcats.
They put up 36 points, which is the second most this season for them, and had plenty more chances to cross the end zone, according to head coach Arlen Pixley.
Pixley said there were four extra opportunities in the first half and three different times in the second half to score. NMCC did, however, score on two fumble recoveries and two kickoff returns.
"We finally put some points on the board against a good team in Fredericktown," he said. "I thought we did a lot of things well. We blocked a lot better and it seemed like we were a little bit more physical up front.
"We had opportunities in that ball game, we've had opportunities in every ball game really, other than two, to jockey ourselves in a position to win games. Our kids have not had that awareness about themselves to believe and know what to do in those situations."
Although those 36 points were in a 57-36 loss, a first round district loss at that, NMCC may need every possession to down the Dexter Bearcats on Friday night as they square off at Charles Bland Stadium.
"We need to get a win and we'd like to erase that minus-13," said Pixley. "Those things would be nice, but more importantly, you have to concentrate on getting a win. Whether it be be a safety, one-point or whatever.
"You have to be smart and every possession is critical because it could mean the ball game."
NMCC will be looking for their first district win and second win of the season as they try and tackle the physical Bearcats led by quarterback Cody Stevens.
Stevens has thrown for over 750 yards this season and has also ran for 325 yards scoring a total of 12 touchdowns.
"He's a runner," Pixley said. "We look for him, if he has the opportunity to tuck it and run, I think that's what he'd like to do first. You have to cover him up and make sure he's not throwing the ball down the field.
"He's steady in that offense and the way they do things with him."
Although Stevens leads the charge, Dexter has had a total of 11 players carry the ball at least once this season with four of them carrying 20 times apiece.
"You just can't prepare for one player, you have to prepare for a scheme," said Pixley. "They have interchangeable parts that don't miss a beat with their timing. Those guys can play in the backfield or out of the backfield."
The Bearcats (4-4) will bring a physical style of play with them which Pixley and his brother, Dexter head coach Aaron Pixley, is accustomed to. Pixley also mentioned that Dexter, who hasn't beaten NMCC since a 34-7 win in 2005, has been playing a cleaner game, limiting mistakes that they might have made a year ago.
"That's the thing that they preach and that's always been their brand of football," Arlen Pixley said. "They play a physical style. Other people hang their hats on speed, while my brother Aaron and I have always preached being physical first.
"(Dexter) is playing a good physical brand of football. They're playing team football. They're not making mistakes and they've cleaned everything up, playing well offensively, defensively and special teams department."
Although the Eagles have had their troubles as far as wins go, the Bearcats know all too well about what kind of havoc NMCC has caused the last five seasons.
"(They're) a very talented football team," Aaron Pixley said. "(They're) well coached and they have some great players. You've seen it the past few years, they give us fits on both sides of the ball. We are going to have to play well on both sides of the ball to beat them.
"They play a very difficult schedule and they play some very good teams and they've scored on some very good teams. So we don't even know what their record is because, that doesn't matter to us. They present a great, great challenge and we are going to have to play well. Until someone knocks them out, the district still runs through New Madrid."
NMCC will hope to score on more of their chances this Friday as they will also hope to get off the field when third down situations, that have been problematic for the Eagles this season, present themselves.
"We just had times where we just couldn't seem to get off the field even when they had third-and-long situations. We tried to address some coverage issues this week in practice as well as cut down on some mental mistakes and make sure we take care of business on defense and trying to create that element of pressure," Arlen Pixley said.
"But, they've been in those situations this year and they've learned a little each week as we've gone. We know the other teams have had a lot to do with that but, a lot of that has been to our own demise."