Heads up Tiger fans. It’s time to make a run at a State Title.
As pumped as the Cape Girardeau faithful are likely to be for the biggest local football game since 2016, they likely also know this will not be an easy road to hoe, as the path to the Semis has to go through MICDS.
The Tigers, having a revamped season with a District Championship already under their belt, will have to pull out all the stops against an 11-1 Rams team that has outscored their opponents 526-205 and boasts two of the best Running Backs in the State.
This is an MICDS team that doesn’t rely on the pass very often, but they don’t for good reason. They have Steven Hall and Winston Moore, who have 58 rushing touchdowns between them. No, that is not a misprint. Hall has 1,562 yards on the ground and 28 scores (good for a 12.6 YPC avg), while Moore has 976 yards and leads the team with 30 TDs.
Both players have three receiving touchdowns as well, with Moore leading the team in yardage through the air with his 24 grabs for 429.
This tandem will have to be shut down if Central is going to stay in this game from the jump.
If the Rams do elect to go through the air, they will look to Brian Gould, who, despite attempting just 124 passes, still amassed over 1,000 yards and 10 TDs on the season. He did throw eight picks though, so maybe that is something that Head Coach John Gibbs‘ squad can exploit.
Sadly, for the Tigers, the defense will be no picnic either, as the Rams know how to get to opposing Quarterbacks. They have four players with five or more sacks on the season, led by Peyton Simon with seven. But the main man to focus on trying to evade will be Cortlin Dalton, who leads the team with 119 tackles.
Also, when Cape decides to air it out, they’ll need to throw it to someone not covered by Cameron Lester. The aggressively sneaky defender has a ridiculous seven INTs on the season.
Here’s the good news though, the Tigers can bring it as well. And while he may come in a smaller package, Zai’Aire Thomas is about as good as it gets when it comes to Running Backs in Missouri. He has been weaving in and out of defenders all season long and ripped off 172 yards on the ground in last week’s District Championship win. He also scored two of the team’s three touchdowns.
Taking the pressure off of him, while also feeding him the ball will be QB Morgan Diamond, who has been a staple at the position all season. He only threw for 21 yards last week, but he normally airs it out on a much more regular basis and can use his legs as well (witnessed by his game winning TD run to sink Poplar Bluff in the Finals).
Through the air he’ll likely look to get Marquel Murray, Clayton McClard and Keyshawn Boyd involved. The Tigers may have to get creative in the passing game, as the Rams are likely to stack the box against Thomas.
Regardless of strategy, it will be a win or go home situation on Saturday, November 19th at 1pm. The Tigers will look to keep their season alive and advance to the State Semifinals. We’ll get into the details of next steps when we need to cross that bridge.
Good luck Tigers!