DISTRICT FIRST-ROUND FOOTBALL PREVIEWS: Scott City draws rival Chaffee in district opener
It seemed almost inevitable when the new district football alignment came out before the 2016 season that longtime rivals Chaffee and Scott City would find each other in the postseason.
Scott City dropped from its Class 2 standing, which it had held for years, into the Class 1 ranks to join Chaffee and five others schools in District 1.
And sure as the fire in which the Red Devils operate, the schools will, for the first time in a rivalry that spans more than 50 years, play each other more than once in a season when Chaffee makes the eight-mile trek to Scott City for the second time this season at 7 p.m. today.
"I know one thing, it's sure better driving eight miles than 308," Chaffee coach Charlie Vickery said. "I don't know if it's quite that far, but when we went to Mark Twain last year, gosh, it took forever to get there. And being a rivalry game, both teams will have a lot of people there, so I think it should be for a good night."
The SEMO Conference West schools will be playing with more than annual bragging rights, with their seasons on the line for the first time.
The third-seeded and host Rams will enter with a 6-3 record, which includes a 42-13 win over the Red Devils in Week 5. Sixth-seeded Chaffee will enter at 4-5.
"There weren't going to be many teams we weren't going to be able to face a second time -- we play most the people in our district, so that was probably going to happen," Scott City coach Jim May said. "We'll see. The last time they felt like the officials really hurt them and that maybe it was kind of a fluke that we beat them, so we're going to find out."
The Red Devils were assessed 16 of the game's 19 penalties in the first encounter, having 107 yards walked off against them by the referees.
"Last game I don't know how many penalties we had, but we had way too many," Vickery said. "We can't have that."
However, doing more damage than the penalties was Scott City senior running back Braden Cox, who amassed 308 yards on 33 carries in helping the Rams improve to 5-0 at the time.
It was one of five games this year the senior has rushed for four TDs -- he had five in the season opener against Grandview -- in a contest. The Rams have gone 1-3 in the games since, but Cox has accomplished the feat in each of the last three games against Hayti, Kelly and Perryville.
He rushed for 285 yards last Saturday in a 46-33 loss to Class 4 Perryville as he became the first Ram to eclipse the 2,000-yard mark since Britt Mirgaux in 1993.
Cox has 2,021 of the Rams' 2,728 yards rushing on the season and has accounted for 30 of the team's 36 rushing TDs.
"It's been their game all year, and he's responded well to it," Vickery said about the 6-foot-3, 218-pound senior. "He's definitely a load. You're not going to stop him, but hopefully we slow him down a little bit and keep the big runs to a minimum."
Cox's touchdown runs in the first encounter with Chaffee ranged from 20 yards to 64 yards.
"You just can't have that, because he's such a powerful runner anyway," Vickery said.
Cox averages 7.1 yards per carry, has not been held to less than 140 yards in any game this season and has eclipsed 300 yards three times. He's been a workhorse, topping 40 carries in a game three times this season, including 42 rush attempts last week against Perryville, which was just one off his season-high 43. That total came in Week 7 against Hayti.
"It says a lot about our team, about our line and about him," May said about the huge season being posted by Cox. "He's done a really good job of running the football, but we've done a really good job up front.
"We see a loaded box every week, and everybody knows we're going to run the football. And we've still have been able to do it every single week. That's an attribute to all 11 of them, but he's done a really good job of dealing with the punishment of all the carries and all the yards. He always bounces back and never misses practice, and he's ready to go. That's big."
He's stayed healthy through his workload of 283 carries on the season, but it's lower than the 354 carries posted by Mirgaux in compiling his single-season mark of 2,357 yards.
"That's just a testament of how strong he is because if you carry the ball between 35-45 times a game, your chances are going to go up because you're going to get dinged around a little, and I don't think he's missed anything," Vickery said.
While Cox is the centerpiece of the Scott City attack, directed by senior QB Ty Wilthong, Chaffee has a weapon of its own in sophomore QB Landon Tenkhoff, who rushed for 195 yards on 30 carries in the earlier encounter, part of his second straight 1,000-yard season. He has 1,174 yards rushing on the season -- 6.8 ypc -- and has passed for another 817 yards, which represents 63 percent of the Red Devils' offensive production this season.
Senior running back Uzziah Beggs is second with 645 yards rushing (6.1 ypc).
"The Tenkhoff kid is a really good player. He rushed for almost 200 yards against us, and the Beggs kid is a really good back," May said. "He didn't do a lot against us the first time, but I know he's capable. We've got to have a better defensive effort than we had the last time, and up front, I'm sure they're going to load the box and try to stop the run. That's what I'm positive will happen; how they do that, I'm not sure, but I'm sure they'll try to get creative."
Both teams have lost in the first round of district play the last two years after winning first-round games in 2013. Scott City last advanced with a 20-14 win over Charleston but lost to East Prairie and Hayti the least two seasons in Class 2 District 1.
Chaffee's last win over Scott City came in 2013, a 51-16 win that was part of an 8-0 start by the Red Devils, who eventually finished 9-2. The season included the Red Devils' last district victory, which came in the first round over Hayti. The Devils have since lost to Mark Twain and three-time defending Class 1 champion Valle Catholic in the first round.
Portageville (4-5) at St. Vincent (6-3)
Last week: Hayti 42, Portageville 7; St. Vincent 35, Jefferson 26
Last meeting: Portageville 28, St. Vincent 0 (2013, first round of districts)
Outlook: The winner of this game gets a date with Valle in the district semifinals.
"Half the teams in the state are done playing after Friday night, and we're just hoping to not be one of those teams," St. Vincent coach Nathan Rowland said. "Every time that you get a chance to go kick off a game, there's an opportunity and a chance. That's all our kids want is the opportunity and a chance."
The fourth-seeded Indians enter with a head of steam, having won six of their last seven games, including a nine-point victory over a strong Jefferson team last week.
"The Jefferson game we played our best entire game of the season -- a full game," Rowland said. "The offense was clicking, and the defense was clicking. It was a big game for us. It was a big boost."
Senior QB Tyler Monier passed for 250 yards and four TDs against Jefferson, while senior RB Riley Riehn rushed for 100 yards and accumulated 250 all-purpose yards. Riehn has 1,190 yards rushing on the season with 13 TDs, but also has been a key target for Monier with 440 yards receiving and five TDs.
Senior LB Tyler Unterreiner finished off a dominant regular season with a team-high 18 tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss and a fumble recovery against Jefferson. He's averaging two sacks a game and leads the team in tackles. Riehn also has been a force on a defense that has allowed 15 points per game since a 77-0 loss to Valle in its season opener.
The Indians will need another strong defensive effort against fifth-seeded Portageville, which has scored at least 45 points in six of its nine games and averages 36.7 ppg. Its losses have been to state-ranked Malden and Hayti, as well as Caruthersville, Piggott (Arkansas) and East Prairie.
Rowland termed the Bulldogs' offense, directed by dual-threat junior QB Ian Torrey, as "explosive." Torrey has rushed for more than 500 yards and has about 1,000 yards passing. The attack includes running back Lamar Alexander and receiver Hunter Gates.
"Portageville is going to be super athletic," Rowland said. "They have a lot of play-makers. I tell you what, they are talented at every single spot on offense. We've seen the quarterback make plays where other quarterbacks we've played this year can't make."
Rowland said his team wants to set a physical tone early.
"We figure if we can go out there and get some pads popping that we might be able to slow them down a bit," Rowland said.
CLASS 2 DISTRICT 1
Kelly (0-9) at Caruthersville (6-3)
Last week: Chaffee 54, Kelly 0; Caruthersville 76, New Madrid County Central 13
Last meeting: Caruthersville 66, Kelly 20 (2015, first round of districts)
Outlook: Kelly is in its third year of varsity football, and the previous two ended in first-round district losses to the Tigers, who are 4-0 against the Hawks.
Caruthersville has won the four meetings by a combined score of 247-52, with the closest margin of victory at 42 points.
The two schools didn't meet during the regular season this year.
Caruthersville is assured its eighth straight winning season. The Tigers had six straight district titles before seeing their last two seasons ended by Malden.
The Tigers' three losses have all come to state-ranked opponents in Malden (triple overtime), Valle Catholic and Hayti. Valle was the only team to defeat Caruthersville by double figures, winning 48-36 in Week 3 and dropping the Tigers to 1-2.
The Tigers began starting Charles Golliday at quarterback in Week 4 and have gone 5-1 since. He has passed for more than 1,000 yards, with George Qualls his top target with more than 800 yards receiving. Deandre Davis leads the rushing attack.
The winner will advance and face the winner between East Prairie and St. Pius X.
CLASS 4 DISTRICT 1
Cape Central (4-5) at North County (6-3)
Last week: Cape Central 54, Soldan 20; North County 60, Fredericktown 30
Last meeting: Cape Central 48, North County 7 (2015, first round of districts)
Outlook: Cape Central begins its quest for a fourth straight district title with a different role -- visiting team and "underdog" -- in the first round of one of the more balanced districts in the area.
Although the fifth-seeded Tigers own an overtime road victory over top-seeded Farmington in Week 3, they find themselves on the road primarily due to a five-point loss to conference and district rival Sikeston in Week 6.
"We squeaked out a win against Farmington in overtime, and we played very poorly," Central coach Arlen Pixley said. "We were searching for consistency on the offensive line, and we've rotated probably about three different lineups through there in two weeks. And we just couldn't settle on any one of them because we couldn't get anyone playing together, so those two are sitting above us.
"So the words and the phrase I use with our kids is, 'Hey, our team is sitting back in the weeds, like Tigers do,' and they're ready to pounce on their prey when they come by. Let everyone walk around with their big chest and their higher district rankings -- that's OK, because we've got to settle it on the gridiron."
The fourth-seeded Raiders lost to Farmington by 17 points in Week 2 and No. 2 seed Hillsboro by 22 points in Week 6, but the Knights won their final three games of the regular season against Windsor, Potosi and Fredericktown -- all teams with losing records -- to finish ahead of the Tigers, who went 1-2 down the stretch, with losses to state-ranked Class 5 schools Jackson (No. 10) and Chaminade (No. 1).
"We've played some really quality teams. And I'm not taking anything away from their scheduling, but I think our eyes are kind of dialed in to a lot more high-level play than what their kids have seen as of late ... I just don't think they've seen the schedule that we've played," Pixley said.
North County, led by sophomore quarterback Kolten Poorman, racked up 631 yards total offense against Fredericktown last week. Sophomore RB/WR Cole Ziegler ran for TDs on three of his six rush attempts against the Black Cats and finished with 158 yards rushing. Fullback Riley Smith added three more rushing TDs and finished with 211 yards on 22 carries. Brian Chandler, a 6-foot-5 receiver, added two TD catches in the rout.
Pixley said the Raiders, who also feature senior Matt Black at receiver, blend spread and power formations, and he noted that a young Raiders cast has matured over the season.
"Those sophomore kids that have been running the football for them, playing wide receiver and playing quarterback, they're juniors right now," Pixley said. "They graduated the regular season."
Central senior quarterback Kway'Chon Chisom has completed 50 percent of his passes for 810 yards with 10 TD passes to just two interceptions.
Junior running back Aaron Harris is on the brink of his second straight 1,000-yard season. Harris has 974 yards (6.5 ypc) through the nine games of the regular season after rumbling for 221 yards and three TDs on 18 carries against Soldan last week. He has a team-high 14 TDs on the season and a team-leading 76 tackles from his linebacker spot on defense.
Junior Austin Parker leads the receivers with 20 catches for 371 yards and five TDs.
The Tigers posted 520 yards of offense against Soldan and are averaging 380 yards on the season -- 300 on the ground and 80 by air.
Pixley said a solid start will be critical against North County.
"In the playoffs, you have to play very, very clean, and a good start to any ball game is no turnovers early and no big momentum plays given up," Pixley said.
Pixley said senior OL/DL Colt Sweet, junior OL/DL Lathan Daniels and senior FB/DL Christian Mitchell are all probable for tonight's game.
"Hopefully tomorrow night in some cooler weather, we can forget about some of those dings because we know it's one or done," Pixley said.
Perryville (2-7) at Farmington (6-3)
Last week: Perryville 46, Scott City 33; Farmington 21, Parkway West 14
Last meeting: Farmington 64, Perryville 14 (2015, first round of district)
Outlook: The seventh-seeded Pirates are 0-4 in district play since the new format was introduced for the 2012 season.
With a win over Parkway West, Farmington leapfrogged Hillsboro, which lost to MICDS, into the No. 1 seed in the district.
Farmington overtook Parkway West on a 50-yard interception return by junior Cody Wright in the fourth quarter after Gavin Duncan had scored on a 1-yard run and Teddy Bankhead broke loose for a 75-yard TD run in the first half.
Farmington started Nathaniel Link at quarterback in the second half after Cody Friedmeyer left with leg discomfort, according to The Daily Journal. With Link under center, the Knights struggled on offense with just one first down in the third quarter and no points in the half. Friedmeyer's availability for today's game is not known.
Perryville snapped a six-game losing streak with a 13-point win over Class 1 Scott City last week. Senior quarterback Brandon Renaud had his best outing since making his season debut in Week 5 -- he broke his ankle over the summer -- with three TD runs (157 yards rushing) and two TD passes (147 yards). Renaud came into the game with 207 yards rushing and two TDs scored.
Senior Kyle Creason is the team's leading rusher on the season with 544 yards (5.7 ypc). Senior Garrett Dix leads the receivers with 41 catches for 606 yards and seven TDs.
CLASS 5 DISTRICT 1
Jackson (7-2) idle
Last week: SLUH 53, Jackson 28
Outlook: The top-seeded Indians have an open week before facing the winner of tonight's game between fifth-seeded Oakville and fourth-seeded Rockwood Summit.
Jackson had a four-game winning streak ended last week by Class 6 SLUH, which scored 39 unanswered points to hand the Indians just their second loss of the season.
All games are scheduled for 7 p.m. today.