David Taylor (center) and the Kennett Indians will be looking to get back to .500 Friday when they take on Malden at Metz Cherry Stadium. Taylor has racked up 134 yards on the ground the last two weeks and has led the team in rushing in three of the team's five games.
The Tribe is also dealing with the flu ahead of Friday's Battle of Dunklin County at Metz Cherry Stadium. While the situation is nowhere near as bad as it is at other schools -- a flu epidemic has forced cancellation of Friday's Dexter-Charleston football game -- it has made its impact felt in the Indians' locker room.
"Like Albert Pujols hit (former Houston Astros' closer Brad) Lidge ..." Kennett coach Kenneth Riedinger said of the flu bug's impact. "We have taken measures to try and ward off some of it. Only time will tell."
Kennett's Cameron Wallace (4) leads the team in rushing with 193 yards on 41 carries and has scored three touchdowns -- one rushing, one receiving and one on a punt return.
Both teams won their season openers, but have had their ups and downs since then despite playing strong defense.
Malden is 1-4 on the season, including dropping a pair of 14-12 decisions to Hayti and Portageville. In both of those games, the Green Wave held 12-0 leads at one point only to fall victim to fourth-quarter comebacks.
"Malden is a lot like us -- they have been in a lot of close ones," said Riedinger. "They are a well-coached football team that could explode at anytime and rack up some wins."
The Green Wave has played solid defense this season, holding three of its five opponents to 14 points or less, including shutting out Hayti until the middle of the fourth quarter.
"They do a great job of game planning and stopping what you like to do," Riedinger said. "They counter pressure well with a double screen and control the ball on offense. Their kids will be ready Friday night, that I can guarantee."
Meanwhile, Kennett has shown improvement over the last two weeks, turning in its two best defensive performances of the year and coming together on offense, scoring 26 points in the first 15 minutes last week against Portageville.
"We are coming together at the right time," said Riedinger. "I like what I see, the kids haven't had as much practice time as I would like but seem to be crisp. The offensive line and defense as a whole is doing a much better job. Our backs are hitting the holes better and we are just better by experience. Should be a fun next few weeks."
One of those backs is senior David Taylor, who has led the team in rushing the last three weeks and has ran for 134 yards the last two weeks, helping fuel the team's offensive resurgence.
"Dave Taylor is the guy that makes us go," Riedinger said. "He has gotten better every week. He keeps his legs moving, he's low to the ground and fights for every yard. He is a wonderful young man and a pleasure to coach. Dave will be successful in anything he chooses to do. My only regret is I only get to coach him one year."
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Metz Cherry Stadium.
Defensive stats: Travon "Loco" Weeden is leading the team (unofficially) in sacks with 10 1/2, while Andy Lack and Emmett Dunn have recorded 4 and 3 1/2, respectively. Weeden also leads the team in tackles with 36, not counting the Charleston and East Prairie games. The Tribe has limited teams to 151 yards per game this season and has allowed more than 16 points just once, a 30-14 loss at Hayti.
Offensive stats: Adam Grantham has thrown for 357 yards and four touchdowns and two interceptions on 24-for-58 passing. He has also ran for a team-high four TDs.
Jimmy Gooden has caught 15 passes for 300 yards and a pair of scores, while Cameron Wallace leads the team in rushing with 193 yards on 41 carries. Dave Taylor is right behind Wallace with 188 yards on 65 carries.
Opponents: The Tribe's opponents were 4-6 last week and are 25-25 this season. Here's how they did:
Charleston lost to Hayti, 22-0
Caruthersville lost to NMCC, 36-7
Hayti def. Charleston, 22-0
East Prairie lost to Fredericktown, 40-3
Portageville lost to Kennett, 26-14
Malden lost to Dexter, 26-14
Sikeston def. Cape Central, 33-6
Perryville lost to Potosi, 35-7
NMCC def. Caruthersville, 36-7
Dexter def. Malden, 26-14
Weather: The National Weather Service is calling for mostly clear skies and a kickoff temperature in the upper 60s, dropping into the lower 60s by the end of the game. Winds will be nine miles per hour out of the southwest.