The Sarcoxie Bears are the only undefeated football team in Class 2, District 4 through six weeks of the season, and even though no other team has fewer than two losses, Sarcoxie finds itself seeded second in the district behind 4-2 Lamar.
The Tigers are helped by playing in the Big 8 Conference, as Lamar receives bonus points in the district seeding formula for playing schools in larger classes, and Sarcoxie looks to be settling in to the No. 2 spot, just two points behind Lamar and seven points ahead of third-seed Butler, who also owns a 4-2 record.
Ash Grove (4-2) is seeded fourth this week, Warsaw (2-4) is fifth, El Dorado Springs (1-5) is sixth, Diamond (3-3) is seventh and winless Stockton is currently seeded last in the eight-team district.
Of the top four teams in the district this week, only Lamar plays a team with a winning record in 4-2 Monett. Butler plays winless Stockton and Ash Grove plays 1-5 Pleasant Hope. In the bottom half of the seedings, every team plays a school with a .500 record or better this week.
"I really like the new district format," Sarcoxie head coach Luke Rader said. "I feel like it makes the whole season more exciting. Before, week's eight, nine and 10 were all that mattered to get into the playoffs. Now the whole season is meaningful as far as earning your district seeds. I like that and it's starting to fall into place."
If the regular season ended today, Sarcoxie would host Diamond in the first round of district play, and then get a home game with the winner of Butler and El Dorado Springs.
"It'll be nice to get that first game at home and then if we're able to advance we would get to play at home again for that second one," Rader said.
The Bears kept their record perfect with a 46-8 win at Greenfield last week, and those eight points are the only ones Sarcoxie's defense has allowed in two weeks.
"Coach Gordon and the other coaches have done a pretty good job getting those kids ready to play the last couple weeks," Rader said. "Our varsity allowed 39 yards last week before we starting substituting kids in. Obviously we're pretty happy with that. We're starting to get a little more confidence and we're starting to play more physical."
The Bears passed the ball four times for 64 yards against Greenfield, and rushed it 49 times for 284 yards.
"Again, our defense this past week helped us out a lot," Rader said. "We had an interception on their first possession, then we had a big punt return down to the 15-yard-line. We ended up with three turnovers on the night so we had a short field quite a few times Friday night."
Page 2 of 2 - Up next for Sarcoxie is another road game, this time to winless Liberal. The Bulldogs were defeated 49-19 at Lockwood last week, and that was Liberal's best offensive game of the season. The Bulldogs have been shut out three times so far, and scored just six points in two other games.
"Our conference is pretty competitive this year, and they've played a pretty tough schedule," Rader said of the Bulldogs. "They do a pretty good job spreading the ball around to different people, so we'll have to play well again defensively this week."
A win this week would give Sarcoxie that much more momentum with home games against El Dorado Springs and undefeated Miller looming to close out the regular season.
"People are excited about it," Rader said. "We've just been trying to focus on doing the same things we've done all season. Taking care of the small things and hoping the wins keep taking care of themselves."