MVP Sports Channel

Cape Can’t Kick The Mules

The Gridiron Geek’s Week 6 River Rankings

The most legendary punt-block in hand-egg history is still the “Roses Bloom in the Snow” moment at Ohio Stadium in 1950. Playing in a blizzard of epic proportions, Ohio State and Michigan found their offenses incapable of advancing the ball. Because each snap and hand-off were disasters waiting to happen, coaches chose to punt in all kinds of bizarre scenarios, such as 1st or 2nd down.

With time running out in the 1st half, paranoid head coach Wes Fesler ordered the Buckeyes to punt on an early down rather than risk a fumble. Michigan blocked the attempt, scored the game’s only touchdown and earned a Rose Bowl bid.

Blocked punts are often high drama, partly because they happen just seldom enough to make us forget about the possibility. When a punter takes the field, our minds are occupied with thoughts of field position and a change-of-possession. Then – Bamf! – the ball is swatted out of the air in front of the now-vulnerable specialist, causing all kinds of mayhem.

The Poplar Bluff Mules have been licking the fringes of MSHSAA contention for a while. But the program deals with the disadvantage of being a lonely, rural Class 5 team surrounded by smaller campuses. That puts pressure on the Mules to beat their lower-enrollment class rivals, just as the same scenario puts pressure on the Jackson Indians – one of the very few 5A-or-larger teams PBHS is able to play without a marathon bus trip.

When the Mules broke a long losing streak to Cape Central last season, it gave boosters hope that the program had turned a corner. The ’16 squad even showed signs of life against eventual Class 5 champion Vianney, bothering the Golden Griffiths in the 1st half of a District 1 semifinal. Poplar Bluff then began the 2017 campaign 4-0. But a bugaboo remained – beating Cape Girardeau Central on its home field, which the Mules had not done since 2011.

Until last Friday – when a blocked punt turned the tide.

The scrum was a little more high-scoring than OSU-UM in 1950. Tiger QB Cameron Cox, still learning to operate Arlen Pixley’s shotgun-option scheme, passed for 141 yards and ran for 77 while RB Aaron Harris scored 2 touchdowns. Cox threw a goal-line interception, however, to leave the score 28-22 in favor of CHS with 1 quarter to play.

Things looked bleak for the visitors when the Mules were held without points on a Red Zone chance of their own. But senior LB Tanner Dunivan crashed through to block a Tiger punt attempt with about 7 minutes to go, setting up PBHS on the Cape 15 yard line. QB Logan Bell, having a fine day of his own, hit Tyson Cox for the winning TD just 2 plays later.

Poplar Bluff now enjoys much-needed momentum going into a Class 5 show-down with Jackson this Friday. And as much as the loss stings the Tigers, Cape Central may eventually look at last weekend as a step forward for their program too.

This ain’t your mama’s Poplar Bluff. The Mules are asserting themselves as a contender in Class 5, and have proven they can score on any HS team in Missouri…bar none. Any Class 4 team capable of leading PBHS in the 4th quarter – win or lose – has the size and speed to challenge for a Show Me Bowl bid.

As to whether the Tigers can get there with a sophomore QB who just suffered 2 downer Fridays in a row? That remains to be seen.

The Gridiron Geek’s Week 6 River Rankings (MSHSAA District 1, All Classes)

#1 – Vianney Golden Griffiths (5-0)

Last Friday, Vianney beat Chaminade 45-0. For perspective, the Red Devils lost to Kirkwood 20-14 to begin 2017…and beat Saint Louis University High by 3 touchdowns a few weeks later. The Griffiths ran them off the field with 345 rushing yards, and now look almost unbeatable.

#2 – Eureka Wildcats (5-0)

The ‘Cats ascend to the top 2 in the River Rankings after a methodical 28-14 win over Lafayette, RB Hassan Haskins rushing for 197 yards.

#3 – Lindbergh Flyers (5-0)

The Flyers remain steady after a 49-10 thrashing of Parkway South, in which the Varsity Patriots were held to about 10 offensive plays per quarter.

#4 Kirkwood Pioneers (4-1)

KHS is having a weird September. A televised loss to Pattonville, followed by a lightning cancellation against Parkway North. The Pioneers will not play again until 9/29.

#5 Jackson Indians (4-1)

The Indians give up 300+ yards rushing to Farmington High School’s “Flexbone” offense, but score on almost every possession of a 77-42 win. Better ‘D will be a necessity against Poplar Bluff this Friday.

#6 – Poplar Bluff Mules (5-0)

The Maroon and White has asserted dominance over Class 4 rivals in ’17. Now a visit from Jackson will test the Mules’ mettle in their own weight class.

#7 – Lafayette Lancers (2-3)

A brutal schedule makes the Lancers’ losing record deceiving. But this team has not shown it can hold a lead against any of MSHSAA’s best.

#8 – Hillsboro Hawks (4-1)

The Hawks visit Bonne Terre, MO this Friday for a show-down with QB Kolten Poorman and North County High School which will decide the Mississippi Conference title.

#9 – Cape Central Tigers (3-2)

Newspapers get caught up in covering winning and losing streaks in High School football. Not The Geek, who understands that a 1-point loss to Poplar Bluff is better than a 50-0 win over Missouri Military Academy.

#10 – Hayti Indians (5-0)

5 games into a tough schedule, the Black & Gold (and sometimes White) have not been seriously threatened. That could change with a trip to visit the Malden Green Wave this weekend.

Out: Park Hills Central

Knocking on the door: North County, Valle Catholic

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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