District previews: Week 8 high school football capsules

Friday, October 15, 2010
Farmington senior Jonathon Bird tries to break free from Jackson defender Kyle Greenwalt during last week's game in Jackson. (Laura Simon)

Central (7-0) at Farmington (6-1)

Last week: Central 52, Poplar Bluff 6; Farmington 61, Jackson 19

Last year: Farmington 44, Central 28

Class 4 District 1: Central, Farmington, Perryville (0-7), Sikeston (7-0)

Outlook: As district play begins in Missouri, Class 4 District 1 is one of the most intriguing in the state with three teams -- Central, Farmington and Sikeston -- that combine for a 20-1 record. Only two will move on to the playoffs, while one will be left with a stellar record and nowhere to go.

Tonight's clash between Central and Farmington is one where something must give. The Tigers are 7-0 for the first time since 1972 and are doing it in convincing fashion. Central, ranked No. 9 in Class 4, has outscored its opponents 306-61. Farmington has been on a five-game tear where it has demolished the competition 305-56.

"I think it's as good a 4A district as there is on this side of the state of Missouri," Central coach Rich Payne. "I think it's going to be exceptionally competitive between all the ballclubs, especially Farmington, Sikeston and us.

"I told the kids, 'This is what you play for. You play to be in these kind of ballgames, with good people and talent that challenges you as an athlete and as a unit.' That's what athletics is about, to see how you fare against that challenge."

This game doubles as a SEMO Conference North contest and triples as another opportunity to avenge a loss from last year's 0-10 season. Central has avenged losses to New Madrid County Central, Obion County (Tenn.) and Poplar Bluff thus far.

"This group of kids is still hungry," Payne said. "They may have seven wins under their belt, but they're still a hungry group of kids that are ready to take on the challenge."

The Knights' lone loss was a 40-13 setback to Hannibal, ranked No. 7 in Class 4, in Week 2. The no-huddle, spread offense has picked up steam as the season has progressed. The Knights scored a school-record 70 points against Poplar Bluff in Week 6, then followed that with a 61-point outburst last week against Jackson -- the second-most in the 116-year history of Indians football. Farmington enjoyed a running clock in the second half against both of the bigger Class 5 schools.

Farmington has numerous weapons in an offense that is guided efficiently by senior quarterback Zach Hibbits, who led the Knights to 401 yards in the first half in the win over Jackson. Farmington both runs and passes effectively. The Knights had 226 yards rushing against Jackson, with Hibbits and running backs Connor Davault, Brett Bader and Roper Garrett each rushing for around 50 yards.

"They've got a very effective offense, exceptionally efficient," Payne said. "Hibbits is a dandy quarterback and does a nice job and they have good receivers and good running backs. It will be a challenge for us."

Hibbits is an accurate passer and has a potent weapon in 6-foot-3 senior Jonathon Bird, an athletic receiver with good hands and ability to run after the catch. Bird had a team-high five receptions for 95 yards against Jackson. Chase Busenbark and Doug Warren also are sure-handed receivers, as are Davault and Bader.

"I think we need to run the ball, and run it efficiently, in order to keep the ball in our hands," Payne said. "Sometimes the best defense is a good offense, and keeping the ball out of their hands is a good thing.

"And we got to make sure our defense is flying around to the ball, keep the ball in front of us and make them earn their way down the field."

Central's offense also has a variety of weapons and has been impressive. The Tigers have triggered the running clock (commenced by a 35-point lead in the second half) the last five weeks and in six of their seven games.

Senior running back Keilon Moore leads the Tigers with 681 yards rushing on the season and averages 11.5 yards a carry. Moore, who has a team-high 12 touchdowns, carried just five times against Poplar Bluff last week but ran for 99 yards. Senior James Poindexter is second on the team with 569 yards and averages 10.7 yards a carry.

While the Tigers' Wing-T attack has rushed the ball 302 times and passed just 47 times this season, they are efficient with the passing game. Junior quarterback Christian Cavaness has completed 30 passes, with 10 going for touchdowns. Senior Andrew Williams leads the receivers with 12 catches and three touchdowns. Senior tight end Zach Boerboom and junior running back Deonte Jenkins are second and third, respectively, in receptions. The Tigers are deep at receiver with seven different players hauling in touchdowns.

Central's defense is yielding just 8.7 points a game. The Tigers held Poplar Bluff to zero yards from the line of scrimmage and allowed one first down in the game.

Payne wasn't making any predictions on whether he thought it would be a shootout or a low-scoring tussle.

"I think it will be a competitive contest for four quarters," Payne said. "I think it is going to be one of those things where even if one team gets up or one team gets down, I think the other team has the ability to make big strikes and get the ball down the field and into the end zone."

Chaffee (2-5) at St. Vincent (2-5)

Last week: Malden 35, Chaffee 0; Grandview 33, St. Vincent 7

Last year: St. Vincent 40, Chaffee 12

Class 1 District 2: Chaffee, Cleveland NJROTC (1-6), St. Vincent, Valle Catholic (6-1)

Outlook: St. Vincent has dominated the annual meetings, going 15-1 since 1994. Chaffee's lone win during that span came in 2007 when the Red Devils prevailed 13-10.

Both teams have slumped in their two games leading into district. Chaffee has suffered back-to-back shutouts against East Prairie and Malden after a two-game winning streak. St. Vincent has been outscored 74-13 in losses to Crystal City and Grandview.

Both teams own a victory over St. Pius. Chaffee beat the Warriors 20-6 in Week 4, while St. Vincent claimed a 21-12 win in Week 5.

"We're both 2-5 and we're both pretty young," Chaffee coach Charlie Vickery said. "I think we're very similar teams right now."

Chaffee's other victory came against Scott City, which defeated the Indians 42-21 in Week 2.

"They had the big win against Scott City, and I'm sure that bodes well for their confidence," St. Vincent coach Paul Sauer said. "Scott City beat us."

St. Vincent has been searching for offense in the absence of junior quarterback Tim Schumer, who was injured in the Indians' only other victory, a 47-0 win over Missouri Military Academy in Week 3. Schumer was lost for six to eight weeks and, according to Sauer, probably won't return until the final week of district play, if that. Sophomore Trent Elder and senior Taylor Sauer have been splitting time at quarterback in Schumer's absence.

St. Vincent has had trouble running the ball most of the season. The Indians had just 23 yards on 34 attempts in their last game against Grandview.

Chaffee also has struggled on the ground this season. The Red Devils increasingly have turned to junior running back Tyson Estes, who averaged more than six yards on his 12 carries in last week's loss to Malden.

Junior Jordan Yahn and sophomore Cody Payne have been splitting the quarterback duties for much of the season. Yahn has been starting in recent weeks, but Payne has been making regular appearances.

Vickery said he plans to continue using both quarterbacks, utilizing the strengths of both.

Yahn, who also plays linebacker and safety on defense, was the team's leading rusher last season but has been hampered by injuries since Week 1.

"He's finally coming back where we're using him full time defensively, too," Vickery said. "He's stronger right now than he's been since the first game. No question."

Vickery said his team is relatively healthy for this time of the season, a claim that Sauer cannot make.

Indians starting guard Josh Welker will miss tonight's game with a knee injury. And Sauer said running back Mitch Presnell will see limited action due to injury.

"I think this is a pivotal game for the second-place team in the district," Sauer said. "We're going to have to get after it, and hopefully one or the other can salvage a little bit out of their season down the stretch."

Valle Catholic (6-1), which has outscored the opposition 326-41, is the overwhelming favorite to win the district title.

"They have a lot of weapons, and if they're healthy, I definitely think they are the team to beat," Sauer said.

Scott City (1-6) at Herculaneum (5-2)

Last week: Hayti 52, Scott City 14; Herculaneum 12, Charleston 7

Last year: Did not play

Class 2 District 2: Crystal City (4-3), Herculaneum, Scott City, St. Pius X (1-6)

Outlook: Scott City and Herculaneum never have met on a football field. Herculaneum has replaced Grandview in the district after dropping down from Class 3.

Herculaneum lost senior running back Bryan Bone with a serious knee injury earlier this season, but it has done little to slow the Black Cats.

Herculaneum still has two running backs that average more than 100 yards a game in Frank Abate and Tim Shores.

Shores has 773 yards rushing (7.9 ypa), with 253 of those yards coming on 11 carries against St. Vincent. Abate has 712 yards rushing (9.0 ypa), with 200 yards on 13 carries against St. Vincent.

"They don't throw it a ton," Scott City coach Jim May said. "They're kind of like us. They're a running team, and when your team is built on it, that's what you got to do."

Scott City has lost its last five games. The Rams have struggled for points after scoring 83 points in the first two weeks of the season. They've scored 70 points in the five games since.

"I told the kids it's an opportunity to wash away what's happened in the first seven and try to save a good season out of it," May said. "Herculaneum is a good team, and we'll have to play better defensively to give ourselves an opportunity to win the game."

The Rams did see a glimmer of their old offense last week, when senior running back Garret Schaefer broke loose for 238 yards on 33 carries. Schaefer, who had 178 yards by halftime, went over the 1,000-yard mark with his first 200-yard game since accomplishing the feat the first two games of the season. Schaefer has 1,038 yards this year.

In addition to mistakes and turnovers, Scott City has been battling injuries in recent weeks. Senior linebacker Wade Keesee has missed the last two games with a concussion and still is out. Senior linebacker Hunter Griffith and defensive end Heath Pobst also missed last week but will play tonight. Defensive back/running back Travis Phillips was injured last week but also should play.

"We're getting closer to full strength, but last week we were really depleted," May said.

Poplar Bluff (1-6) at Jackson (2-5)

Last week: Central 52, Poplar Bluff 6; Farmington 61, Jackson 19

Last year: Poplar Bluff 25, Jackson 6

Class 5 District 1: Jackson, Poplar Bluff, Rockwood Summit (3-4), Seckman (1-5)

Outlook: This SEMO Conference North game is of district consequence for the first time since the 2001 season.

"The district is about as competitive as it has been in past years, and we stand as good a shot as anybody of coming out as district champions this year," Jackson coach Van Hitt said. "As long as we can get focused and play like we're coached, we've got a good chance."

The Mules have scored seven or fewer points four times this season. Poplar Bluff, which has been hit hard by injuries, has been outscored 323-85, including 122-13 over the last two weeks -- losses to Farmington and Central. The Mules' offense gained zero yards in last week's loss to Central and obtained their only first down by penalty.

Poplar Bluff has lost five straight since its lone victory in Week 2, a 34-12 win against New Madrid County Central.

The Mules lost their top two running backs from last season to graduation, and have been hit hard by injuries. Starting quarterback Michael Griggs has been lost to a broken collarbone, while the defense has been hit hard by injuries at linebacker and in the secondary. Running back Pete Bryant (555 yards) returned from a shoulder injury last week against Central but lost 7 yards on 10 carries.

Josh Freeman and Jeff Rowland split time at quarterback last week, combining to go 2 of 8 and losing 9 yards. Kendrick McCain and Bryant also saw snaps at quarterback in the Wildcat formation.

Jackson has lost four straight since a 17-0 win against North County in Week 3. The Indians suffered a one-point loss to Vashon but have lost the other three to Class 4 District 1 teams Central, Sikeston and Farmington by a combined 151-43 during the stretch.

The Indians surrendered touchdowns on nine of Farmington's 10 possessions and yielded 482 yards of offense last week.

"We looked at a little bit of film on last week and talked about some of the problems we had with that game, but then we put that right behind us to get ready for this game," Hitt said. "This game is much more important."

Jackson senior running back Ethan Ruch figured into 165 of Jackson's 255 yards of offense last week. Ruch ran his team-high rushing total to 651 yards (4.9 ypa) with all 65 of Jackson's rushing yards and had a season-high 100 yards receiving on five catches. He now leads the Indians with 15 catches for 249 yards, with sophomore Lowgn Wren second with 14 receptions for 220 yards.

Ruch also had a game-opening 83-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Farmington.

"He was our bright light last week in what you might call a very dismal evening," Hitt said.

Hitt said some of his players are banged up but expects to have everyone available for what he thinks will be a physical game.

"We're both almost in identical situations," Hitt said. "We've suffered some hard losses, and our kids are hungry for a victory. And I know theirs are too."

Perryville (0-7) at Sikeston (7-0)

Last week: Ste. Genevieve 27, Perryville 7; Sikeston 56, Kennett 9

Last year: Did not play

Class 4 District 1: Central (7-0), Farmington (6-1), Perryville, Sikeston

Outlook: Sikeston enters this game as the No. 5 ranked team in the state and is part of a brutal closing stretch for the winless Pirates.

Perryville, which was bumped up to Class 4 this year and has not been a district foe of Sikeston's since 2003, also must face District 1 opponents Central and Farmington. Perryville's three state-appointed opponents combine for a 20-1 record entering district play.

Sikeston has not scored less than 36 points in a game. The Bulldogs have topped 50 points the last two weeks -- three times this season -- and average 45.6 points a game.

Perryville has scored 51 points this season, averaging 7.3 points a game.

Darryl Howard leads Sikeston with 834 yards rushing (9.1 ypa). Quarterback Trey Lewis is second with 660 yards and averages 13.2 yards per attempt.

Janeil Hatchett is Lewis' No. 1 receiver with 20 catches for 546 yards.

-- Jeff Breer

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