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story.lead_photo.caption Jays quarterback Cole Gresham runs between Rock Bridge teammates Peyton Carr and David Gysbers (9) during last Friday night's game in Columbia. Photo by Jason Strickland / California Democrat.

De Smet is 6-0 with two wins against ranked teams and hasn't scored fewer than 32 points this season.

Jefferson City coach Terry Walker realizes how grueling tonight's task is against the top-ranked Spartans.

"We know we have our hands full," Walker said as the Jays (2-4) prepare to take on De Smet at 7 p.m. in St. Louis.

To start, a Jays defense that's surrendered 208.33 yards rushing per game will attempt to contain three Spartan running backs averaging better than 7 yards per carry.

Rico Barfield, who has offers from Iowa State and Purdue, has 465 yards and six touchdowns on 61 attempts.

Darez Snider, a shifty 5-foot, 6-inch, 175-pound back, averages nearly a first down per attempt with 433 yards and six scores on 48 carries.

Leading the Spartans with seven rushing touchdowns is Taj Butts, who has received offers from Illinois, Iowa State, Louisville and Purdue, has carried the ball 47 times for 396 yards.

"They've got a lot of talent at the running back position," Walker said.

Chaminade gashed the Jays for 357 yards rushing two weeks ago and Rock Bridge ran it for 315 yards against the Jays last week.

Five of Rock Bridge's runs went for at least 20 yards.

"Big plays that are scoring big plays are the result of maybe a lapse in focus, a mis-alignment or poor pursuit angles, and we had all three," Walker said. "When you have all three on one play, that's whats going to happen against a good football team."

Injuries are adding up for the Jays' defense as well.

Linebacker Bryant Gipe will miss his second straight game with a concussion. Michael Heislen, who had a blocked punt and a sack last week, won't be available at linebacker.

In the secondary, David Bethune has been nursing an ankle injury this week.

"We practice all the guys," Walker said. "Some matchups are better than others, obviously, but we've got five or six guys who can play in the secondary."

Orentheus Pitts could see more time in the secondary as well at running back if Bethune can't go.

"We were planning on rotating him at safety anyway," Walker said. "He had started the year at safety and spent some time at corner. Just based upon the personnel of our guys, we think he's probably the best candidate to be in one of those safety spots."

Nick Williams might also play safety tonight.

Moving back to a cornerback spot will be Devin White.

"He's more comfortable out there," Walker said. " He's played at a really high level there."

Other than that, Walker said there isn't a plan to change much on defense.

"I think there's an aspect of where people want instant gratification," Walker said. "They want you to do a change and they want the change to immediately work. In life that's not the way it works. We're not really changing anything.

"We're going to try to be better in what we do. Now, you have to have the ability to adjust and you have to have the ability to show teams different looks, but that's not really changing. Fundamentally, we have to be better at the point of attack."

De Smet hasn't been forced to attack defenses through the air this season, but the Spartans do make the most of each pass play they run.

AJ Fraser and Michael Wheeler have split time at quarterback, each totaling more than 450 yards on just 30 and 35 completions, respectively. They each have eight touchdowns and one interception.

Ra'Shod Harvey-Smith has hauled in a team-high 20 passes for 258 yards and three scores.

Notre Dame commit Jordan Johnson only has 12 receptions in six games, but averages nearly 24 yards per catch and has scored five times.

Six players have scored a receiving touchdown this season for De Smet.

"They've got a lot of guys that want the football," Walker said. " They do a good job rotating their backs in and out, they do a good job of isolating different receivers in different sets and creating opportunities for them to make a play."

Lanell Carr has two receiving touchdowns, but his ability to open up space for the running backs has made it difficult for opponents.

"It's nice when you can move a guy left or right via an H-back, which is why we use it," Walker said, "because you can create an extra gap and force the defense to defend the extra gap.

"He gives them flexibility to run at the point of attack or he can pull and trap backside and give them an opportunity to run counter to either side depending on how they want to block it."

Carr, a West Virginia commit at linebacker, is one of several defensive playmakers for a Spartans unit that allows about 12 points per game.

Carr leads the team with four sacks, while Carter Edwards, Mekhi Wingo and Dakota Doyle-Robinson have three each.

Wingo has several Division-I offers, including Iowa State and Louisville.

Defensive lineman Armon Wallace has committed to Missouri State.

"Their two interior defensive linemen are a handful," Walker said. "They create a lot of double teams and they eat up a lot of blockers at the point of attack, which allows linebackers to run pretty much free.

" We have identified guys we think we might be able to attack during certain situations of the game, and we'll try and put ourselves in a formation with the ability to do that."

The Jays' rushing attack has been inconsistent this season, leading to more quick passes for Cole Gresham.

It was a success last week when Gresham completed 23-of-43 passes for 345 yards and three touchdowns while mixing in deep throws to White.

"Cole really does have a pretty quick release," Walker said. "He demonstrated that Friday night against Rock Bridge and I thought our passing game was as close to kind of what I want it to become moving forward.

" We had incorporated some of the RPO action off of inside fakes, which would pull a defender and created a lane for the quarterback to throw in. We did some quick throws to the perimeter and created some one-on-one situations and then we attacked vertically. I think that's the direction we're going to have to go in the future."

Notes: This will be the Jays' final road game until district play. Jefferson City will host Battle on Oct. 18 and Rockhurst on Oct. 25 at Adkins Stadium. Jefferson City sits in eighth in the Class 6 District 3 standings with 23.67 points, 2.5 points behind Kickapoo (2-4). Marquette (6-0) and Joplin (6-0) are separated by two points at the top.

Related Media: Jefferson City Jays Football Podcast [De Smet preview, Oct. 11, 2019]

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