Tigers eager to reverse a pattern vs. NMCC

Friday, September 13, 2002

After opening its season for the third straight year with a victory over St. Charles West, the Central Tigers have the opportunity to avert their annual swoon.

Week 2 has represented the beginning of a five-week freefall for the Tigers, who have recovered to win district titles each time.

New Madrid County Central (0-1) has had the distinction of starting the 1-4 spiral for Central each time, including a 28-20 victory last season on the Tigers' home field.

Central will get a chance to return the favor this year by breaking a three-year losing streak to NMCC on the Eagles' home field.

"We have historically gotten off to kind of a slow start and for some reason around the sixth game we come around a little bit and all of a sudden we're looking at the playoffs," Central coach Lawrence Brookins said. "I guess you'd rather have it that way than the reverse, but we'd love to come out and be strong and build on that week by week. That's what the really, really good teams do. And that's what we want to try to mimic."

The Eagle teams of the past few years aren't shabby imitation material. NMCC capped a recent strong run by reaching the Class 3 championship game last year, finishing 12-2.

The year was a peak one for NMCC, which graduated all-staters Dereke Tipler and Desmond Sims.

The opening week was a return to reality for the Eagles, who were flattened 37-0 by Jonesboro (Ark.).

Running back Remond Willis was one of the lone bright spots in the loss as he rushed for 103 yards on 15 carries. The Eagles are switching Willis to quarterback this week, a move which Brookins says correlates to the running success by St. Charles West quarterback Zachary Garrison.

While the Tiger defense yielded nearly 400 yards -- 264 on the ground -- a balanced offense topped 400 yards.

Junior quarterback Mitch Craft and senior running back/receiver Monroe Hicks embodied the balance. Craft rushed for 74 yards and passed for 168. Hicks combined for nearly 200 yards of offense with 108 yards receiving and 90 yards rushing.


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