The last time Jefferson City and De Smet met on the football field, the Jays won by 38 points and went on to finish with nine victories.
The Spartans also ended that season with a nine in their record, except it was in the loss column.
"I watched De Smet three or four years ago and it looked like they were in a down cycle," Jefferson City coach Terry Walker said, "and they are certainly not in a down cycle anymore. They have done a great job of getting kids in there. And when you see their defensive line and their offensive line, they are big kids, they are fast, they are athletic. Their skill kids are much improved, both at the running back and receiver positions. It's going to be a great challenge for us."
Jefferson City (3-3) and De Smet (4-2) will kick off at 7 p.m. today at Adkins Stadium for Homecoming and Senior Night.
A win for the Spartans would match the number of victories they had in the past four seasons combined.
Two of De Smet's wins this season have come against opponents the Jays have lost to: Rock Bridge and Chaminade.
De Smet defeated Rock Bridge 35-17 in Week 2 in Columbia and is coming off a 34-16 victory at Chaminade.
The Jays are coming off a 42-21 loss to the Bruins, a game in which the Jays led 14-0. Jefferson City rallied from a 21-point deficit against Chaminade before falling 49-42 in overtime two weeks ago.
"We're trying to focus on finishing in every situation," Walker said. "Finishing plays, finishing drives, finishing quarters."Two weeks ago, it was Vianney finishing off De Smet with a field goal for the Spartans' second straight defeat, but De Smet scored 20 points in the fourth quarter to beat Chaminade 34-16 last week.
After a 13-point opening quarter for Chaminade, De Smet only surrendered a field goal the rest of he way. The Spartans allow 18 points per game and have held their opponent to 17 or fewer points in five of their six games this season.
"They've physically been overpowering teams at the line of scrimmage, so they haven't been forced to do much other than their 40 fronts," Walker said. "That's what I would expect them to hang their hat on and hopefully we can get them in some situations where we can take advantage of some of the things we're trying to do offensively."
De Smet's Lanell Carr has made plays from the linebacker spot and on the defensive line this season. He's second on the team with 32 tackles and has racked up a team-high eight tackles for loss. Carr, a junior, has offers to play at Kentucky, Kansas, Louisiana Tech, Rutgers and Syracuse.
Carter Edwards and Mekhi Wingo both have three sacks on the season and are tied for second on the team with seven tackles for loss each.
The Jays will also need to watch for junior defensive tackle Armon Wallace, who has four tackles for loss this season. Wallace has offers from Kentucky, Memphis and Syracuse.
"I think they one of the better defenses in that they are physical and they are attacking," Walker said. "They've got speed on defense."
De Smet also has plenty of physicality and speed on offense.
The Spartans have three running backs with at last 50 carries, 295 yards and two touchdowns.
Darez Snider is the speed back who also returns kicks. Taj Butts, who got the start last week for an injured Rico Barfield, brings a combination of size and speed.
"You could tell that they were searching for about a game or so, but the last game I thought they had their best combination of running back mix," Walker said. "They've got a smaller kid that's quick and a fast and then they bring in another kid that's a bigger kid and more physical, but also moves really well. They're not hurting for running backs, they're not hurting for players. It's just going to be a good challenge for us."
Slinging the ball for the Spartans is senior left-handed quarterback Nate Martens, who has several D-I offers.
"He's a big kid and he sees the field well, he throws a good football and he's got guys that can catch it," Walker said. "He looks like a quarterback and he looks like a polished quarterback, and he does a good job of running their offense."
Martens, who's 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, has surpassed 1,000 yards on 62 completions and has 11 touchdowns and six interceptions. He also has 119 yards and four touchdowns on 61 rushing attempts.
"He's definitely not afraid to run the football," Walker said. "He does not have the great breakaway speed but he definitely is a physical type of player even though he's playing quarterback."
Walker said he hopes the Jays can get pressure on Martens.
"Our pass rush has been below average to this point in the season," he said. "We're not getting a ton of pressure on the quarterback, we're not doing a great job of making the quarterback move off his spot. We've been blitzing some and stunting some, but we still haven't been able to generate the the type of pressure that we want."
The Jays' secondary will be tested against 6-2, 190-pound receiver Jordan Johnson, who has offers from Notre Dame, Alabama, Auburn, Arkansas and others.
"If I had to compare him to a kid I'd compare him to (Kirkwood's Maurice Massey) because he's a taller kid and has similar explosiveness with the ball in his hands and does a great job of running routes and does a great job of playing the ball when it's in flight," Walker said.
Johnson only has 16 receptions, but he has accounted for nearly 500 yards and six scores.
"He's got great speed. He's got a burst off the line of scrimmage," Walker said. "He's a taller, rangier kid. It look like he catches the ball really, really, really well and they do a good job of trying to isolate him in some situations to give him an opportunity to catch the football."
Ra'Shod Smith-Harvey, a 5-8, 155-pound receiver, leads De Smet with 25 receptions for 273 yards and three scores.
Jefferson City will be without starting tackle Sam Jakob, who broke his leg in last week's game against Rock Bridge. "Consequently the backups at offensive tackle, we're working those guys in there," Walker said. "And we're also looking at a couple other guys."