(4) Central (4-6) at
(1) Sikeston (9-1)
First round: Central 31, Festus 6; Sikeston 71, Perryville 7
Other semifinal: (3) North County (7-3) at (2) Hillsboro (8-2)
Outlook: This district semifinal is a rematch of a Week 7 meeting won by Sikeston, which rallied from a fourth-quarter deficit to win 25-21.
The loss was part of a five-game losing streak the Tigers ended with back-to-back wins against Festus in Weeks 9 and 10.
"I'm glad we were finally able to turn the corner a little bit and get a little bit of momentum and confidence," said Central coach Nathan Norman, whose squad looks to reach Monday's district championship round. "We're excited."
The Tigers were without running back Chris Martin in the first encounter with Sikeston, one of two full games the senior missed with a sprained ankle.
Martin played the last two games against Festus and proved himself healthy as the Tigers rode him hard. He combined for 350 yards on 61 carries, accumulating at least 170 yards in each game.
"Early in the year we kind of rotated some people, but right now we're trying to utilize what we feel is working the best for us," Norman said.
Martin has a team-leading 977 yards rushing.
Senior Jacob Campbell is second on the team with 830 yards, but he carried just two times for 4 yards last week while being rested a bit to heal from lingering injuries entering tonight's game.
Norman said both running backs are as healthy as they've been in some time.
The Tigers have relied heavily on the run all season, and trended further that way last week with 53 of their 61 plays on the ground. Central junior quarterback Dennis Vinson did complete five passes for 123 yards.
Sikeston crushed eighth-seeded Perryville in last week's district opener. The Bulldogs scored six touchdowns in the first quarter and led 71-0 at halftime.
Running back Chris Word continued a strong junior season with five touchdowns -- all in the first quarter. Word carried seven times for 88 yards and has 800 yards (5.1 ypc) this season. Senior quarterback Kyland Gross carried four times for 62 yards and has 1,378 yards (8.9 ypc).
Sikeston averages 295 yards rushing a game and 62 yards passing.
"It will be a great defensive battle," Norman said. "We've got our work cut out for us. They're very tough at quarterback and they have a very strong running back."
That duo combined for more than 300 yards rushing in the first encounter with Central. Word led the way with 190 yards and three touchdowns, including a 3-yard run midway through the fourth quarter that finally put Sikeston in the lead.
Norman said field position, acquired through special teams play, and turnovers will be a key to the outcome.
"It's going to boil down to which team makes the plays at the opportune time, and whoever can get focused and play for four quarters," Norman said.
Class 5 District 1
(4) Vianney (5-5) at
(1) Jackson (6-2)
First round: Vianney 41, Poplar Bluff 15; Jackson bye
Other semifinal: (3) Fox (5-5) at (2) Rockwood Summit (6-3)
Outlook: This game is a rematch of a Week 2 meeting won by Jackson, and Indians' first-year coach Brent Eckley is looking for the Golden Griffins and star running back Markel Smith to arrive at Jackson High School with a bit of an attitude.
"I think they believe they didn't put their best foot forward, and I'm sure they're going to be excited to play against us the second time," Eckley said.
The visiting Indians held Smith to 7 yards on 14 carries in the 43-14 victory.
Those numbers look like a typo when put into context of Smith's junior season, which ranks among the best in the state this season.
The Division I recruit leads the St. Louis area with 2,342 yards rushing, according to stltoday.com, and has scored 29 touchdowns. He's averaging 9.1 yards per carry.
The Indians had a 12th defender when they faced Smith and the Griffins as the remnants of Hurricane Isaac made for miserable playing conditions.
Jackson held Vianney to 87 yards passing and 32 rushing.
"I think [the rain and wind] was a little bit of a factor because it made them pretty one dimensional," Eckley said. "They weren't able to throw the ball very well, and we didn't throw the ball very well in that game either. We had some short passes that turned into long passing plays."
Smith had rushed for 297 yards the week before facing Jackson, and he has posted some monster games since. His lowest rushing total outside the Jackson game was 153 yards against powerful CBC. He shredded Washington for 437 yards and Farmington for 403.
He warmed up for this week's game with a first-half workout against Poplar Bluff in the district opener last week. He ran for 188 yards on 20 carries and scored five touchdowns.
Vianney quarterback Garrett Staskewicz also completed 7 of 11 passes for 122 yards. Staskewicz has completed 48 percent of his 113 attempts for 763 yards.
"We're hopeful that we can play good defense against them again, but to hold [Smith] to [7 yards] on the night, we're certainly not counting on that," Eckley.
CLASS 1, DISTRICT 1
Hayti at Portageville
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Records: Hayti (4-5), Portageville (8-1)
Series History: Portageville leads 43-26-3
Last Meeting: 2012, Portageville won 35-22
Last Week: Portageville 50, Cabool 7; Hayti 20, St. Vincent 14
Outlook: Two second half touchdowns gave the Hayti Indians a minor upset over No. 4 seeded St. Vincent last week, 20-14. Hayti, the district's No. 5 seed, was led by Karnard Humes on both offense and defense. Humes ran for 132 rushing yards and two touchdowns while also picking off a pass that he returned for the decisive touchdown. Humes, who was recently moved to the wide receiver position, also bolsters an impressive passing resume with 1,190 passing yards and eight touchdowns to go along with 639 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns. Hayti held a 22-21 lead over Portageville earlier this season, but the Bulldogs rattled off two unanswered scores in the fourth quarter to remain undefeated.
CLASS 2, DISTRICT 1
Scott City at Caruthersville
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Records: Scott City (5-4), Caruthersville (7-2)
Series History: Scott City leads 11-6
Last Meeting: 1999, Scott City won 42-7
Last Week: Scott City 46, Jefferson 22; Caruthersville 48, East Prairie 14
Outlook: Top-seeded Caruthersville easily ran past East Prairie, 48-14, during last week's first round game in the Class 2, District 1 tournament. The Tigers will try to erase some demons against the Rams, who they haven't beaten since 1991 and fall behind in their series history 11-6. Led by running back Darrell Monroe (6-2, 220), who only ran the ball once for 11 yards against East Prairie last week, leads the Tigers with 798 yards and six touchdowns despite limited playing time because of an injured leg. i
Charleston at Malden
When: 7 p.m. Thursday
Records: Charleston (8-2), Malden (8-2)
Series History: Charleston leads 18-14-1
Last Meeting: 2011, Charleston won 43-7
Last Week: Charleston 63, Grandview 0; Malden 37, St. Pius X 6
Outlook: There are a lot of similarities between both Charleston and Malden going into the Class 2, District 1 semifinals. Both teams are looking for their eighth-straight win and both contribute one of their two losses to Caruthersville. They each rely on a run-heavy attack and want to advance to the next district championship game. The Green Wave are led by potential all-state running back Romello McCoy. McCoy leads the SEMO Conference in rushing yards and touchdowns with over 1,600 yards and over 25 touchdowns. Charleston is more of a balanced running attack utilizing their numerous speedy tailbacks. Junior Robert Bogan (5-8, 185) continues to pile up yardage rushing for 1,231 yards with 19 touchdowns while sophomore Rontavious Clark (5-6, 166) has gained 896 yards with nine touchdowns.
Both Bogan and Clark ran for 271 rushing yards combined in their 63-0 drubbing over Grandview. Senior quarterback Mike Hull (5-8, 156) isn't asked to throw much, but when he's called to he's one of the more accurate passers in the area. Completing 25 of 40 passes for 408 yards, Hull manages a run game that has amassed 861 rushing yards in their last two games.
CLASS 3, DISTRICT 1
NMCC at Ste. Genevieve
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday
Records: NMCC (4-6), Ste. Genevieve (9-1)
Series History: Ste. Genevieve leads 8-3
Last Meeting: 2008, NMCC won 72-52
Last Week: NMCC 28, Potosi 27; Ste. Genevieve 55, Kennett 15
Outlook: Needing two late game touchdowns to claw back from an early disadvantage, New Madrid County