Three area teams will play for district titles when the final week of district play begins tonight.
Unlike recent years, when large schools Central and Jackson were looking to make postseason runs, Scott City and Perryville join St. Vincent in the hunt for state playoff berths.
Scott City and Perryville won three games apiece last season, but a new coach in Scott City and a new class in Perryville have sparked the teams.
Scott City (8-1), coached by Terry Flannigan, will travel to Charleston (6-2) tonight in a matchup of Class 2 District 2 unbeatens, while Perryville (4-5) hosts Dexter (6-3) on Friday for the Class 3 District 1 title.
The Rams are led by Matt Schaefer, who has rushed for 100 yards in each of Scott City's games and has 1,455 yards this season.
Flannigan, in his second stint with the team, has the Rams one game from their first district title since 1999.
"It feels amazing," Schaefer said.
Despite a losing record in 2002, the Rams had a shot at the title before losing to Charleston on the road. Last season, the Rams were routed in district games against Crystal City and Charleston. After dispatching of Crystal City on Friday, the Rams now have their sights set on a Charleston team they haven't beat since their district title year of 1999.
"This group of seniors deserve everything they're getting," Flannigan said. "Now we have our opportunity. That's all we can ask for."
Pirates drop down in class
Perryville moved down from Class 4 to Class 3 this season and has found the new classification to its liking. The Pirates have rolled against a pair of struggling clubs, New Madrid County Central and Kennett, and will now take on the cream of the district in Dexter. Matt Unterreiner has carried Perryville's return to the ground game with 1,352 yards rushing.
The Pirates' two district wins this season matched the total for the team over the past five seasons. Perryvile had not won a district game since 1999, and has not won a district title since 1998.
"We're really excited about being here," Perryville coach Rick Chastain said. "It's been a while since we've been in this situation."
Perryville comes into Friday's game riding a three-game winning streak. The Pirates had lost five straight before the current winning streak, but a strong showing in a narrow loss to Potosi was a turning point.
"I'm just very pleased and astounded how the kids have come together," Chastain said.
Indians contend again
While the Rams and Pirates have not had many meaningful games over the past few years, St. Vincent is becoming an old hand at district titles. St. Vincent has won four district titles over the past six years, including long state playoff runs in 1998, 1999 and 2000. Last season the Indians were eliminated in the sectional round.
St. Vincent coach Keith Winkler said he is happy his team's hard work has put them in the positin to capture another district title.
"At least we have a chance," he said. "That's what we were hoping for."
St. Vincent (8-1) will meet Hayti (5-3) tonight with both teams unbeaten in district play. Hayti has victories in the last three weeks that knocked Scott City and Valle out of the state rankings before beating up Chaffee last week. Hayti won the district title in 2001 and 2002, topping St. Vincent each season.
This season St. Vincent has once again put together one of the stingiest defenses in the area. St. Vincent has allowed 60 points this season, an average of 6.7 points per game. Over its past two meetings St. Vincent has held Hayti to seven points, including a 27-0 win last season.
"We feel fortunate to have the defense we have," Winkler said. "I think you can attribute that to the offense, too."