Last week: Poplar Bluff 51, Central 12; Seckman 55, Windsor 45
Last year: Central 26, Seckman 18
Outlook: Central will be looking for a repeat of last year's game when the Tigers also were 0-6 and found the win column against the Jaguars. The momentum did not help the Tigers in district play as they finished their season 1-9. The Tigers suffered more than a conference loss against Poplar Bluff last week. They took a major hit to their offensive line with injuries to junior right tackle Jeremy Lamb (broken wrist), junior right guard Zach Horrell (knee) and junior left tackle Chris Bird (knee). All three, who also played defense, will miss tonight's game and quite possibly future games. Central will turn to two sophomores and a junior to fill the holes. Sophomores Jordan Lamb and Aaron Wendel will fill the tackle spots, while junior David Huffman will start at right guard. "I think they have the ability, they're just not game-tested," Central coach Rich Payne said. Running back Brandon Pickens has been a bright spot since making his debut in the fourth game of the season. Pickens ran for 216 yards on 23 carries against Poplar Bluff and has 395 yards in his three games. He's averaging 8.6 yards per carry. Seckman has outscored the opposition by 94 points this season, but enters with a 3-3 record. The Jaguars have been consistent on offense, averaging 42 points and never scoring less than 22 in a game. "They're big and strong up front, which could give us some problems," Payne said. "We'll try to combat that some with our speed." Junior running back Tyler Fisher is second in the St. Louis area with 20 touchdowns and 124 points. Fisher, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound junior, also is tied for second in the St. Louis area with 1,443 yards rushing and averages 10.1 yards a carry. Junior fullback Brett Dawson (6-1, 220) often provides a path for Fisher. "He's almost like having another lineman in the backfield," Payne said. While Fisher is the primary weapon, he's not the lone weapon. Junior quarterback Sam Tramel has thrown for 947 yards and eight touchdowns. Senior Travis Cardona and junior Alek Ferbet both have 18 receptions, three touchdown receptions and more than 300 yards receiving.
Chaffee (1-4) at Malden (1-5)
(PAUL DAVIS ~ Daily American Republic)
Last year: Chaffee 24, Malden 14
Outlook: After a season-opening win against Grandview, the Red Devils have struggled. Chaffee has been shut out twice in its last three games, a stretch where it's been outscored 116-6. And with districts beginning next week, the Red Devils, like all teams in Missouri, will be looking for momentum for the three-game district that concludes the regular season. "We haven't been playing anywhere close to as good as we're capable," Chaffee coach Charlie Vickery. "We'd like to use this game to right the ship a little bit." Chaffee fumbled early on back-to-back kickoff returns deep in its territory against East Prairie that got the rout going. In all, three Chaffee turnovers led to three short scoring drives for East Prairie. "Momentum is just not going our way at all, but like I've said before, you have to make your own breaks," Vickery said. Malden opened its season with a 50-14 win against Scott City -- a team that beat Chaffee 27-6 -- but has not won since. However, the Green Wave have played all their opponents close, including a pair of 14-12 losses to Hayti and Portageville. Their most recent loss was by seven points to Kennett. "They've played good defense the whole year," Vickery said. "They basically could have reversed their record. They've had some leads late in a couple of games. Their record is not indicative of the way they've played so far." After struggling to move the ball on the ground, the Green Wave has been turning to the air in recent weeks.
Poplar Bluff (4-2) at Jackson (0-6)
Last week: Poplar Bluff 51, Central 12; Farmington 30, Jackson 20
Last year: Jackson 16, Poplar Bluff 6
Outlook: The 0-6 start is historically bad for Jackson. While the Indians last were 0-5 in 1992, they have not been 0-6 since the 1916 team went winless with that record. In the Indians' defense, they have played tough competition. Jackson's six opponents thus far have combined for a 29-7 record. Jackson had its closest brush with victory last week when it trailed Farmington by three points late in the fourth quarter. "Things we have got to do is eliminate small mistakes that cost us ballgames," Jackson coach Van Hitt said. "They're little, but you add them up and they are a major factor in determining the game." The Indians had their best offensive production of the season with 261 yards of offense, including a 141-yard rushing performance by junior Ethan Ruch. While the ground attack was the Indians' best of the season, the passing in the spread offense was far from sharp. Bobby Clark completed 12 of 31 passes, with numerous short-route passes dropped by receivers. Jackson scored a season-high 20 points last week, but the Mules have not scored less than 34 points in a game. The Mules' offense has averaged 43.3 points this season and more than 51 points over the last three games. The total yardage figures are just as impressive, with the Mules averaging more than 500 yards a game over the last four weeks. Senior running backs Zach Ferguson and Eljie Johnson both have more than 700 yards rushing on the season. "They have two dandy backs," Hitt said. "One is finesse [Ferguson] and the other a power back [Johnson], and both have great speed." Due to its ability to run the ball, Poplar Bluff hasn't had to throw much in recent games. Quarterback Zach McAnulty completed 7 of 10 passes for 167 yards against Central. "When they get in situation where they have to throw, they're very capable," Hitt said. Jackson senior linebacker Cole Rodgers, the team's leading tackler through the first three games, will miss his fourth straight game with a knee injury, while senior safety Cody Kester has been ill this week and will sit out.
Perryville (0-6) at Herculaneum (3-3)
Last week: Fredericktown 21, Perryville 0; Park Hills 20, Herculaneum 0
Last year: Herculaneum 30, Perryville 13
Outlook: The Pirates also enter Week 7 looking for their first win. The history book is not quite as harsh on Perryville, but only because the Pirates had an 0-10 season as recently as 2005. Offense has been a major problem for the Pirates. They are coming off their second shutout of the season and have 27 points through six games. The Pirates have not scored more than seven points in a game. Despite the offensive struggles, the defense has allowed the Pirates to hang around at times. Against Fredericktown was one of those games, as the Pirates trailed just 6-0 at halftime, and that TD came in the final minute after a turnover. Herculaneum also is coming off a shutout loss, but the Blackcats have scored at least 26 points in each of their five other games. Herculaneum's three losses have come against unbeatens Valle Catholic and Potosi, and Park Hills, who combine for a 17-1 record. Quarterback Dennis McHawes and running back Bryan Bone lead a Herculaneum rushing attack that some opponents have not been able to stop. Herculaneum rolled up 387 yards rushing in a 13-point win against Ste. Genevieve. However, Herculaneum mounted just 90 yards of total offense in a loss last week to Park Hills.
Scott City (2-4) at Hayti (3-3)
Last week: Scott City 21, Confluence Prep Academy 14; Lake County (Tenn.) 23, Hayti 6
Last year: Hayti 42, Scott City 12
Outlook: Scott City has won its last two games after an 0-4 start. Last week's win came against Confluence Prep, a first-year program that fielded a team made of freshmen and sophomores. Junior running back Garett Schaefer had his fifth-consecutive 100-yard game against Confluence, but senior Brandon Deprow surprisingly led the way for the Rams with 160 yards rushing on 13 carries. Scott City had more than 300 yards rushing in the game. "If we can get her going one more week, it would be real nice heading into district," Scott City coach Jim May said. "But Hayti is real big and real fast. That's always a dangerous combination." Hayti has had an up-and-down season and finds itself at .500. The Indians are averaging less than 3 yards per rush attempt. Keenan Williams is the team's top rusher with 185 yards. The passing game also is spotty as Darden Balazi has completed less than 50 percent of his passes and thrown more interceptions (nine) than touchdowns (six). Byron Norris is Hayti's top receiver with 11 catches for 208 yards. "Everyone has the ability to take it to the house on any given play," May said. "You can't focus on any one person." Junior defensive lineman Darnell Clay, who was all-region as a sophomore, is the top tackler on a defense that has been respectable. He has a team-high 10 tackles behind the line and four sacks. May said senior safety Wyatt Martin, who suffered a hip injury in last week's game, will be a game-time decision. Martin also was taking care of the kicking duties this year, but May said junior Alex Eichhorn, who kicked for the Rams last season, will fill that role tonight.
Grandview (1-5) at St. Vincent (1-5)
Last week: Cuba 38, Grandview 14; Crystal City 39, St. Vincent 32
Last year: St. Vincent 42, Grandview 6
Outlook: Both teams enter with identical records, but St. Vincent has been trending upward as it plays its homecoming game, while Grandview has gotten thumped in its last three games -- Valle, Maplewood and Cuba -- by a combined 144-22 score. The Eagles broke a 37-game losing streak in the third week of the season with a 48-22 victory at Missouri Military. "If we can get a little something going early on, I think we'll be in good shape," St. Vincent coach Paul Sauer said. "I'd like to see us come out of the gates a little quicker." St. Vincent senior running back C.J. Pavlovsky rushed for 246 yards in the Indians' first win in Week 5, then ran for 184 yards in a seven-point loss to Crystal City last week. Pavlovsky's surge has coincided with a more effective passing game. Sophomore quarterback Tim Schumer has thrown a pair of touchdown passes in both games to 6-foot-4 senior Kyle Rollet. Against Crystal City, five of Schumer's six completions were to Rollet for 142 yards. "[Pavlovsky] is running the ball really well and Timmy has thrown a lot better," Sauer said. "I think the offense is coming around and hopefully the defense follows suit. And once district comes around, we'll have it going in the right direction." Sauer said defensive end Clayton Copeland will be out with a shoulder injury.
-- Jeff Breer