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story.lead_photo.caption Jefferson City running back David Bethune stiff arms Hickman's LJ Williams during last Friday night's game in Columbia. Photo by Jason Strickland / California Democrat.

Week 1 was about defending the pass. Advantage Kirkwood.

Week 2 was about stopping the run. Advantage Jefferson City.

Week 3 was about stopping the run and a mobile quarterback. Advantage Jefferson City.

The Jays will have to deal with a combination of all of those tonight when they host the St. Louis University High Junior Bills. Game time is 7 p.m. at Adkins Stadium.

It starts with SLUH (1-2) senior running back Kellen Porter, who's gained 280 yards on 56 carries in the first three weeks of the season.

"He's a tough kid," Jefferson City coach Terry Walker said. "He's got really good vision, he does a good job of creating plays with his feet, he does a good job of breaking tackles. Haven't seen the kid get tackled for losses on too many occasions.

"He does a good job of finding a hole in the defense and then exploiting it. And just a good quality running back that does a good job of catching the ball out of the backfield. So all those areas put pressure on the defense, so we have to do a good job of trying to keep him under control."

Porter has also caught six passes for 58 yards.

His season began with a 135-yard, five-touchdown performance in a 52-47 win at Battle.

Last week's 49-7 defeat at De Smet (3-0) was the first time Porter didn't reached 100 yards on the ground this season. The Spartans, the No. 2-ranked team in Class 6 in this week's Missouri Media Rankings, held Porter to 30 yards on nine attempts.

"Well, De Smet's a very good football team," Walker said. "And they run a 30 front defense, which is similar to kind of what we do. But there's not much similarities aside from that.

"SLUH is going to do what they're going to do. They've been doing it for the last two or three games. We're going to do the things we believe in, and we've just got to execute better than they do."

The Jays (2-1) allowed Porter to rush for 162 yards on 23 attempts, including a 48-yard touchdown, in last year's 34-13 victory for the road team.

The final margin of this matchup has been at least three scores the past three years, with two wins for the Jays.

"Coach (Mike) Jones has done a good job of getting kids in the right positions there," Walker said. "And then they played some really tough competition, so their record's fairly misleading."

For the second straight week, the Jays will be facing a mobile quarterback.

Brendan Hannah, a senior, has gained 60 yards on 19 attempts, including a 60-yard performance against Battle.

"He's not afraid to run the football," Walker said. "In fact, they run him on numerous occasions, and he's not afraid to throw the football.

"It's an offense that's very well-balanced and you can't overplay the run or they'll hurt you in the pass, you can't overplay the pass or they'll hurt you in the run. So it's going to be a really good test for us defensively to kind of see where we're at."

Hannah surpassed 200 yards through the air against Battle and Ladue before being held to 42 yards against De Smet.

He's completed 34-of-77 passes for 552 yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions this season.

"They like to run vertical routes. They like to run draws and screens," Walker said. "And they've got standard read option and counter with the quarterback and the running back. So it's stuff that we've seen, but we've got executed and we've got to do better at it than what what they're doing."

Three Junior Bills' receivers have at least 100 yards receiving this season.

Isaac Thompson, a 6-foot sophomore, leads SLUH with 216 yards and two touchdowns on just seven receptions.

Junior receiver John McClelland, also listed at 6-feet tall, has caught seven passes for 133 yards and two scores.

Luke Ratterman, a 6-5 senior, has eight receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown.

"They're long and rangy, and our defensive backs are shorter in size," Walker said. "So there's going to be some automatic mismatches with regards to height, so certainly that's something that our kids are going to have to understand.

"They're going to have to adjust and they're going to have to compete for the football when the ball's in the air."

Jefferson City might stick to the ground against a Junior Bills defense that's allowed more than 171 yards rushing per game.

The Jays are nearly averaging that against their opponents with a 163.3 rushing yards per game clip.

David Bethune is coming off his best game of the season with 141 yards and a score on 20 carries against Hickman to make his season total 195 yards on 29 attempts.

"He's got real good vision and he's patient," Walker said. "But then when it's time for him to explode and accelerate, he does a great job of accelerating. And that's just a credit to coach (Steve) Walker, coach (Bill) Duke, coach (Kirk) Obermiller and the coaches that work with the skill kids on how to read blocks and that kind of thing."

Orentheus Pitts has split time with Bethune, who also plays a lot in the defensive secondary. Pitts has carried the ball 28 times for 113 yards.

"We've got to be careful how much we're using him because we want them fresh all throughout the game," Walker said. "He's expending a lot of energy playing press coverage and that's tough to do for an entire game. So we're trying to find breaks where we can, and him and Orentheus have been a good compliment for each other."

Cole Gresham has helped keep the load off Bethune and Pitts by running it 38 times for 142 yards and four touchdowns this season from the quarterback spot.

Leading the SLUH defense is senior linebacker Anthony Bohannon, who has 43 tackles on the season.

"Coach Jones has got them in a fundamental scheme and they are getting guys in the right places," Walker said. "They make mistakes, just like we do, but we're going to have to try and put ourselves in a position to capitalize on the mistakes."


Related Media

Jefferson City Jays Football Podcast [SLUH preview, Sept. 20 2019]

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