(Photo by David Jenkins, Staff)
ST. LOUIS -- Sikeston senior Corey Porter knows he and his fellow lineman don't usually make headlines.
However, it's what they do up front that breaks those long runs and opens things up for Sikeston's linebackers that has given the Bulldogs their second straight 13-0 season and a 47-0 Class 4 quarterfinal win over the Roosevelt Rough Riders on Saturday in St. Louis.
"Our lines work really hard," Porter said. "Sometimes we don't get the credit, but, that's okay. Us linemen, we don't make too many tackles like (our linebackers). But, just as long as we get the 'W' and we do our job, we're fine with everything."
Porter and Sikeston's offensive and defensive lines were the driving force behind another shut out win -- they're second in a row. The Bulldogs' defensive line interrupted Roosevelt's speedy backfield at the point of attack, while the offensive line created the running room that seniors Darryl Howard, Trey Lewis and Ray Clark took full advantage of.
"I know if I'm not making plays, they are," senior linebacker Ray Clark said. "If I am making plays, they're ready to make the next one. It's all a competition out there to see who can get the most tackles."
Although tackles aren't as common between him and the rest of their line, Porter and Co. was able to make a few hits of their own early in the contest giving Sikeston the momentum.
"They just dominated up front," Sikeston head coach Kent Gibbs said about his line. "They made a couple of big stops early, big hits with some loss of yards early on some of their good running backs and quarterback. When you can do that three or four times it starts taking the steam out of them and that's what happened. We just kept playing from there."
Sikeston's defense held the Rough Riders to 74 rushing yards and 13 passing yards.
They were able to contain the elusive Thomas Lott and James Dean for 34 total yards. Both Lott and Dean played the quarterback position.
"Their guys were elusive," Clark said. "They're fast and elusive. But, we had a total team effort, swarmed to the ball and got them down when we needed to. We just had that relentless pursuit and didn't want them to score on us. If nobody can score on us, they can't win."
Their offense scored on their first six possessions including a 75-yard touchdown run by Howard on the Bulldogs' second play from scrimmage.
"We've emphasized all week that our speed wasn't going to be too much different from theirs, so the game was going to be won up front," said Porter. "We really worked this week to execute in our offensive line."
Sikeston's rushing attack excelled early. Including Howard's long first score, the Bulldogs amassed 389 rushing yards in the first half alone. Howard led with 182 yards while Lewis had six carries for 108 yards and two touchdowns. Clark added 4 touches for 90 yards including a 42-yard touchdown run to give Sikeston a 13-0 lead just four minutes into the first quarter.
All of the above mentioned rushers had all of their carries in the first half. For the game Sikeston rushed for 483 yards.
"Obviously, getting those scores early really gave us a lot of momentum," said Gibbs.
The Bulldogs went into halftime with a 41-0 lead initiating the running clock in the second half and sealing their second semifinal appearance in as many years with a game against Warrenton, who defeated Ladue 37-7, scheduled for Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Sikeston Public Schools Stadium.
"We just talked to the kids about not being satisfied being there again. You have to win it this time," Gibbs said. "I think they're going to give everything they can in practice and they'll be ready to go."
"Like we said in preseason," said Clark, "this team may be just as good or may be even better. We want to take that to the next step and get to the Dome."