ore than 90 high schools across the 24-county region compete in more than a dozen sports on a varsity level each year. Most compete under the guidelines of the Missouri State High School Activities Association, and others under the sanction of the Missouri Christian School Athletic Association.
Southeast Missouri schools and athletes have won hundreds of state championships in a variety of athletic competitions, including baseball, basketball, cheerleading, football, soccer, softball, track and field, volleyball and wrestling since high school sports first began locally more than 120 years ago.
Much of the historical high school information on this site was gathered by Al Jackson, a longtime Southeast Missouri high school sports advocate and historian whose hard work allows us to share the great teams, athletes and stories of past years. Al died in 2018, and we dedicate these pages to him.
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Offense was key for Dexter's 1987 state quarterfinal team, and teammates Earl Wheeler and Robert McMullen both set SEMO records as a result.Click here to see more photos and share yours in our forum.
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Southeast Missouri football milestones
This is a listing of events that helped make history in Southeast Missouri varsity football, compiled with help from sports historian Al Jackson, MSHSAA record books and media archives.
Jefferson averaged 19 yards per carry against Chaffee, setting the SEMO record for rushing yards per carry in a game. Jefferson ran 24 times for 460 yards.
Doniphan returned to varsity football for the first time since dropping the program in 1979.
Valle Catholic ended a 51-game winning streak in Week 7 with a 50-13 loss to Lamar, which would go on to an unbeaten season.
Grandview forfeited its final two games of the season, citing insufficient players to field a team. The low numbers continued into 2017, when Grandview became the first team in the modern era to call off an entire season because of low player participation.
Jefferson successfully made eight two-point conversions in its game against Chaffee, setting a SEMO record and tying the state record for most two-point conversions in one game.
Malden defeated Dexter 80-51; its combined 131 points set a modern-era SEMO record for most points in a game.
Valle Catholic gained 30 first downs in its playoff game against Westran, tying the SEMO record set in 1985 for most first downs in a game.
A new playoff system was put in place by the MSHSAA. Starting this season, the four-team, round-robin format was dropped. In its place, eight-team districts will be created for a bracketed-style district tournament that will be played after a nine-week regular season (brackets are determined by a point system used during the regular season). As a result of the additional games, a team can play 12 games and still not be a district champion (the district championship game would be the 12th game of the season). The start of the season was moved one week earlier to accommodate the extra week of games.
Elbie Fonda of Caruthersville ran a 99-yard play from scrimmage against Portageville, setting the SEMO record and tying the state record for longest run from scrimmage.
Jefferson played its first varsity schedule as a new program and won its opening game. The Bluejays played just six games and were not eligible for the playoffs.
Salem scored 10 touchdowns in its game against Cabool, setting the SEMO record and tying for second in the state for most touchdowns by a team in one game.
Brendan Weiler of Sainte Genevieve ran 80 plays in his team's game against Potosi, setting the SEMO record for most plays by an individual in one game. In the same game, he threw for seven touchdowns, also a SEMO record for most touchdown passes by an individual in one game.
Valle Catholic scored 49 points in the first quarter against Hayti, setting the SEMO record and tying a state record for most points in a quarter.
Grandview ended a 36-game losing streak that stretched back to 2005; the streak ended with a 48-22 over Missouri Military Academy on Sept. 11.
Cole Mankunas of Windsor attempted 71 passes in the Owls' game against Seckman, setting both a regional and state record for most pass attempts in a game.
In the same game as Mankunas' record, Kyle Cotter of Windsor finished with 327 receiving yards, setting a SEMO record for most receiving yards in a game, and had 23 catches, setting both the state and SEMO records for most receptions by an individual in one game. The latter broke a state record set the previous year when Dustin Noll of Sainte Genevieve had two games in which he caught a record 20 passes.
Kory Faulkner of Sainte Genevieve finished with 554 yards of offense in the Dragons' game against Park Hills Central; that set the SEMO record for most rushing and passing yards gained by an individual in a game.
In another record performance, Kory Faulkner of Sainte Genevieve completed 45 of his passes in a game against Fredericktown, setting the SEMO records for most pass completions by an individual in a game and most pass completions by a team in one game. His pass completion percentage of 0.882 in that game also set the SEMO record.
Sainte Genevieve and New Madrid County Central combined for 1,286 yards of offense in their playoff game, setting the SEMO record for total yards by two teams in one game.
Playoffs took on a different look this year; the same four-team, round-robin district playoff brackets were still used, but now the top two teams from each district will advance into the next round. Primary complaints about the new format include that it would allow several one-win or two-win teams to advance.
Kevin Baisch of DeSoto scored 34 points in the first half against Pacific, setting the area record for most points scored by an individual in one half.
Steve Scanlon of Hillsboro returned an interception 100 yards for a touchdown in his team's game against DeSoto, tying the state and local record for longest interception return; the record is shared with Monroe Hicks of Cape Girardeau Central (see 2000).
Saint Vincent forced six interceptions against East Buchanan in a playoff game, setting the SEMO record for most interceptions in a game.
Blane Boss of Windsor ran for 508 yards, the first and only time a player in the region has gained more than 500 yards rushing in a single game. That number also stands as the SEMO record for most all-purpose yards (rushing, receiving, returns) in a single game.
Jesse Helms of Hillsboro scored 13 points for the Hawks against Pacific, setting a SEMO record for most points in a game by a kicker.
Several changes were adopted by the MSHSAA for football. One: Teams no longer used the "A" in classifications, meaning Class 1A teams now competed in Class A, 2A teams in Class 2, etc. Two: Class 6 was added to feature the state's largest schools. Three: Ties are no longer allowed in state championship games; any tied game will continue into overtime. Four: A new private school multiplier rule meant that for classification purposes, private school enrollment will be multiplied by 1.35; as a result, many private schools moved up in classification.
Mario Whitney of Jackson ran for 463 yards in a game against Parkway North, at the time setting a state record for most yards rushing in a single game. It remains the SEMO Conference record.
Monroe Hicks of Cape Girardeau Central had a 100-yard interception return against Farmington, tying the state and local record for longest interception return; that record is shared with Steve Scanlon of Hillsboro (see 2004).
Brian Emmendorfer of Cape Girardeau Central kicked a 58-yard field goal against St. Charles West, giving him the SEMO record for longest field goal and second-longest in state history. A year later in 2000, he kicked a 57-yard-field goal against Perryville, which stands as third-longest in state history.
Dan Dodson of North County was credited with a 99-yard pass reception in the Raiders' agame against Potosi, establishing a SEMO record and tying the state record for longest pass reception.
Hillsboro allowed negative-9 yards passing against Windsor, establishing the SEMO record for fewest passing yards allowed in a game.
Jason Ramsey of Herculaneum returned a punt 98 yards in his team's game against Saint Pius X, setting the SEMO record for longest punt return.
Scott Wynn of Hillsboro scored 42 points in the team's game against rival DeSoto, setting a SEMO record for most points by an individual in one game.
Herculaneum became the first SEMO team to allow one first down in a game against Maplewood-Richmond Heights, setting the SEMO record for fewest first downs allowed; the record later was matched by Hillsboro (vs. Festus) in 1997, and by Cape Girardeau Central (vs. Poplar Bluff) in 2010.
Wholesale changes were made to the state football playoff system. The biggest was that the complex point system that had been used to determine district standings was abandoned. Instead, each class was divided into 16 four-team districts, with a round-robin district tournament played in Weeks 8-9-10 (ties were broken based on point differential). The team with the best record advanced out of the district.
An eight-man division was added and featured schools primarily from the northern part of the state.
Earl Wheeler of Dexter threw for 520 yards in a playoff game at Hillsboro, establishing the SEMO record for most passing yards by an individual in a single game.
Robert McMullen of Dexter set a SEMO record when he averaged 42.4 yards on five receptions in his team's playoff game at Hillsboro. That set the record for most yards per reception in a game; it also was a state record until 2005.
Hillsboro became the first SEMO team to gain 30 first downs in a game, setting the local record that was later tied in 2015.
Sikeston and Charleston met for the 100th time, establishing the first 100-game high school football series in Southeast Missouri (in terms of games played, not number of years). Sikeston won 20-19 on a Saturday afternoon in Charleston.
The MSHSAA classification system grew to add Class 5A for the state's largest schools.
Changes were made to the playoff system so that now four teams from each district advance to the playoffs, thus creating a sectional round in each class. The point system remained in place to determine district standings.
Starting this year, overtime will be played to break ties in all regular-season games. Previously, games were allowed to end in a tie.
The MSHSAA adjusted the playoffs to allow a second team to advance from each district, which created a quarterfinal round in each class of the state playoffs. The point system remained in place to determine district standings, although changes were made to now add or deduct points for strength of schedule.
The first state championships were held by the MSHSAA. Champions were Princeton in Class 1A, Cabool in 2A, Perryville in 3A, and McCluer in 4A. Previously, local associations and conferences held their own championships, but no state champions had been recognized until this year. Under the playoff format, each class was divided into four equal districts, and a champion (determined by a point system) advanced from each district to the state semifinals.
Valle Catholic, coached by Ralph Thomure, outscored its opponents 535-0. Its average point total of 53.5 points set the SEMO record for most average points in a game.
Sikeston's 14-3 loss to Poplar Bluff ended a 48-game streak without a defeat. Among those 48 games were three ties.
Cape Girardeau Central outscored its opponents 316-0.
Jackson outscored its opponents 307-0.
Sikeston, coached by James Smyth, defeated Caruthersville 148-0. It stands as the most lopsided defeated in SEMO football history. Just four years earlier in 1915, Sikeston defeated Kennett 147-0.
The first game between rivals Cape Girardeau Central and Jackson was played. Central won 20-14.
The region's oldest high school football rivalry began when Charleston and Sikeston played for the first time. Sikeston won 10-5. The teams played in heavy sweaters, without pads, and some with soft leather helmets. The field was behind the old South Grade School, located near the intersection of Malone and School streets.
The first officially recognized high school game was played in Southeast Missouri. Jackson defeated Oak Ridge 16-5.
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