(Photo by Chris Pobst, Staff)
SIKESTON -- It will be the second time in as many years that the Sikeston Bulldogs face the same team twice if they want to advance through the Class 4 state playoffs.
Last year, Poplar Bluff. Now, Cape Central.
"I don't think there is any doubt it's harder to beat a good team twice," Sikeston head coach Kent Gibbs said. "And, certainly from that prospective, we're kind of at a disadvantage."
Just like last season, the Bulldogs go into a sectional rematch with a previous win over their opponent. Although a 21-0 shutout of the Cape Central Tigers looks good on paper, other factors will play their part on Monday night when the Tigers visit Sikeston Public School Stadium.
"I don't know if we have any kind of advantage on them," said Gibbs. "I think that's kind of up to them on how they perceive that. I think they have a little bit of a revenge factor on their mind. They want to come down here and take care of us like we took care of them on their home field.
"I'm sure they feel like they're going to take care of us on our home field."
The Tigers feature a daunting running attack that has averaged 322 yards per game, which includes Cape Central's 350 rushing yards during their 61-28 win over DeSoto last week.
Through 11 games, Keilon Moore leads their attack with 1,183 yards on the ground. James Poindexter is second with 881 yards. Cape Central will be without their third option, Deonte Jenkins, on Monday, who will be out with a torn ACL.
The Bulldogs, however, held the Tigers to 90 total yards during their first meeting, which included 73 rushing yards. It was Cape Central's lowest single-game yardage total all season long.
Despite those impressive numbers, Gibbs knows there's still a job to do against a tough opponent.
"We respect what they do, respect how they do it and they've got a good football team," Gibbs said. "You've got to block out that last game and just know that we still got to do what we do."
Can it be done again?
"Whether or not you can stop a potent run game like that two games in a row -- that's hard to do," said Gibbs. "If we keep our head solid, we know that we have to take care of our keys and we're mentally ready to go out there, I think we'll be ready to play their run game.
"We've got to realize they're going to make some plays, as we tell our kids, have a short memory and come back and make the next play."
The Sikeston offense gave the Bulldogs a huge lift in just three short plays during their first game. Covering 63 yards at that time, Sikeston senior running back Darryl Howard gave his team an important early lead with a 4-yard touchdown run just 39 seconds into the first quarter. Quarterback Trey Lewis added two more rushing touchdowns in the second quarter.
Although the Bulldogs scored 21 points in the first half, they were held scoreless throughout the second.
"The bottom line is, we didn't score in the second half," said Gibbs. "Our defense played well for four quarters, but offensively we just kind of bogged it down the second half.
"They have an explosive football team. I know we played awfully good the first game and they don't feel like that played as good as they could, so, again, I think that revenge factor is there."
Seeing the Tigers and what they were able to do in game-speed, the Bulldogs have a better idea of what Cape Central brings to the table.
"They're very talented," Gibbs said. "(Zach) Boerboom is a big target, (Andrew) Williams is a big target and (Christian) Cavaness has shown he can throw and run. Kelion (Moore) is a good running back -- they've got weapons, like us, to use."
Although those weapons were stymied a bit, Gibbs anticipates a small change in Cape Central's attack,without straying too far from their bread and butter.
"I think your going to put in a few wrinkles and I'm sure there will be some things that surprise us," Gibbs said. "They've had two weeks to look at things and I'm sure they're going to do that. But, you can't take away the identity of your football team. They're going to play power football and, certainly, I don't think that will change.
"Will they do different things? Certainly they will. They'll give us some different looks and I would suspect that they will try a little bit more to get the ball to their big receivers and get their quarterback out of the pocket a little bit more and give him some time to throw."
Last season, the Bulldogs were successful in defeating the Mules in both games. Sikeston shutout Poplar Bluff the first meeting, 28-0, just as they did Cape Central two weeks ago. The Bulldogs defeated Poplar Bluff 26-11 during their second game, advancing them to the quarterfinal round against Ladue last year.
And although history is on Sikeston's side, Gibbs is preparing for a tougher battle the second time around.
"I don't expect the same kind of ball game," he said. "I think it will be a tougher ball game as far as the score is and I think it will be a four quarter game. Hopefully, if you get into that fourth quarter and your even, you can do the things that you need to do to win that game. Which is not mess things up, not make penalties, but just be aggressive in your offense and your defense."