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story.lead_photo.caption Jefferson City receiver Nick Williams is able to hold onto the football as De Smet's Anthony Grant tries to strip it away during Friday night's game in St. Louis. Photo by Jason Strickland / California Democrat.

Watching the previous game and evaluating what went right and what went wrong is a typical practice for football teams.

Last week's 63-0 loss at De Smet, the top-ranked team in Class 6, wasn't typical for the Jefferson City Jays.

"In a game like that, I just assess the effort of the players," Jefferson City coach Terry Walker said. "You can learn a lot about the character of your football team when you watch them play the last 10, 12, 14, 15 minutes of the game, because the game is out of hand, it's out of question.

"The outcome's already been determined, but you can still learn about how hard your players are willing to play by watching them on film and we had some kids play harder than others."

A 2-1 start transitioned to a four-game losing steak for the Jays, who begin a two-week homestand tonight against the Battle Spartans (4-3).

Game time is 7 p.m. at Adkins Stadium.

"We've had really good solid practices and I'm looking forward to watching the kids play on Friday night," Walker said.

The Spartans have had a roller-coaster season, winning three straight games after falling in a 52-47 shootout against St. Louis University High in Week 1.

Battle has gone 1-2 since, including last week's 29-0 loss to Rockhurst in Columbia. It was the first time the Spartans were shut out since a 28-0 defeat last season at Rockhurst.

The following week, Jefferson City went to Columbia and edged Battle 17-14 on a Ben Folz field goal as time expired.

The Jays were in a similar spot prior to that game, having lost three consecutive games, including a 42-7 defeat against De Smet at home.

Jefferson City responded by limiting a Battle team that was averaging nearly 40 points per game to 14.

"I thought our defense played far and away the best game of the year," Walker said after the game. "We know we keep getting better, but sometimes the kids have to experience it on a Friday what it means to do what you're supposed to do fundamentally and then see the result that can happen when you do that."

The Jays will be pursuing a similar result this season going up against a Battle group that scores 34 points per game.

"They do a little bit everything," Walker said. "And I think they kind of poke and prod until they find an area where they think you have a weakness in and then they try and attack that."

The Spartans feature a pair of play-making running backs in Darren Jordan and Daleshaun Coleman, who have combined for more than 700 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground.

Jordan, who's missed three games, has carried the ball 56 times for 374 yards and five scores.

Coleman stepped in as the feature back in wins against Rock Bridge and Harrisonville by averaging 8.4 yards per carry for 311 yards. He has 385 yards on 58 rushing attempts on the season with two scores against Harrisonville.

"They've got some athletic running backs just like they always do," Walker said.

Taking the majority of the snaps is Harrison Keller, who's completed 57-of-98 passes for 705 yards, eight touchdowns and three interceptions.

But the Jays will have to watch out for Keller taking off running as he's accounted for 373 yards and five scores on the ground.

Battle also uses Khaleel Dampier as a passer and runner. He's scored six times on the ground with 240 yards on 22 rushes.

Through the air, Dampier has completed 16-of-20 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns.

"I'm not sure what their process is for that, but we're expecting to see both quarterbacks and we need to be prepared for both of them," Walker said.

Tavian Miller and Dawson Meierotto have been the favorite targets for Keller and Dampier.

Meierotto leads the Spartans in receiving yards (441) and receiving touchdowns (6) with 20 catches.

Miller has caught 22 passes for 224 yards and a score.

"They've shown variety of different formations, and I think in the last game they showed a couple formations against Rockhurst that we have not seen before," Walker said. "And I don't know if that was because of how the game kind of played itself out, but we know we'll see something we haven't seen. That being said, we've seen quite a bit so we're trying to be ready for all of it."

Battle has been susceptible to giving up a lot of points this season, allowing 32 points per game.

"They don't really come out of their 4-2 box for many sets, so we're going to have to figure out a way to run against the six-man front, and that's what we've been working on," Walker said.

The Jays hope to have running back David Bethune back after he missed last week's game with an ankle injury.

Orentheus Pitts will shoulder the load in the backfield for the second straight game if Bethune can't go.

"We'll try and rotate both of them," Walker said. "Hopefully David's able to play some, but Orentheus may be back there the entire time carrying the football. It's not ideal to only have one guy back there, but that's kind of where we're at."

Notes: Linebacker Bryant Gipe is expected to play after missing two weeks with a concussion. Linebacker Michael Heislen will be out the second straight game with a wrist injury. Jefferson City enters tonight's game eighth in the Class 6 District 3 standings, about 5 points behind Kickapoo (3-4). Marquette (7-0), the eighth-ranked team in the latest Missouri Media Rankings, is first, a little more than a point ahead of Joplin (7-0), the third-ranked team. Next week's game against Rockhurst at Adkins Stadium will be the last regular season game for Hawklets coach Tony Severino, who's retiring after 37 years at Rockhurst. The Jays have lost three straight games against the Hawklets.

Related Media: Jefferson City Jays Football Podcast [Battle preview, Oct. 18, 2019]

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