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story.lead_photo.caption Jefferson City quarterback Seth Brooks looks for space to run during a game earlier this season against Hannibal at Adkins Stadium. Photo by Jason Strickland / California Democrat.

It's a day most thought would never come. The Jefferson City Jays and Helias Crusaders will play each other in football.

"I know we respect them," Jefferson City defensive coordinator Jeff Jacques said. "I think they respect us a lot. I think both teams are just gonna line up and play in between the whistles and just see who the better team is."

The Crusaders will take a bus ride down Stadium Boulevard to take on the Jays at 7 p.m. tonight at Adkins Stadium.

What Jefferson City will be letting through the gates is an offense capable of scoring at a rate the Jays have not seen yet this season.

The Crusaders are led by quarterback Jacob Weaver, who's completed 62-of-100 passes for 1,169 yards, 15 touchdowns and two interceptions.

"He's legit. This team's well-coached," Jacques said. "We're gonna have to be prepared, we're gonna have to be fundamentally sound. This is a very fundamentally sound offense and defense, and we can't make mistakes against Weaver because if we do he's going to take advantage of it."

The receiving duo of Cole Stumpe and Damon Johanns is a difficult one to stop. Stumpe has caught 19 passes for 321 yards and four scores, while Johanns has 17 receptions for 354 yards and five touchdowns for Helias (6-0, 4-0 Central Missouri Activities Conference).

"It's gonna be exciting," Jacques said of the matchup between the Jays' secondary and the Helias receivers. "They've got skilled guys, they've got some athletes, we've got some athletes. We'll see who's got the better athletes and who wants to play on Friday."

Weaver is a dual-threat, as he's gained 506 yards on just 68 rushing attempts and has run it into the end zone 10 times.

And Helias has a running back duo of Alex Clement and Ryan Klahr. Clement averages 6.2 yards per carry (73 attempts for 452 yards), while Klahr gains an average of 6.0 yards per attempt (44 rushes for 265 yards) behind a strong offensive front.

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"Whoever controls the trenches is what it is," Jacques said. "We've just got to control the line of scrimmage and make them run plays that they're not used to running."

The Crusaders scored more than 40 points for the fifth straight game last week in a 51-6 defeat of the Capital City Cavaliers at Adkins Stadium.

Helias is averaging 53 points per game since Week 2.

"Really the offenses today are so good that you're really not going to stop them," Jefferson City coach Scott Bailey said. "If anybody thinks they're just gonna shut them down is probably not realistic. But if you can limit what they want to do best and force them to do what they want to do second, I think that's a win for your defense."

What would also be a win for the Jefferson City defense are time-consuming drives for its offense against the top-ranked team in Class 4 in the Missouri Media Rankings.

Jefferson City (3-3, 3-1 CMAC) had a pair of drives drain more than 6 minutes off the clock in last week's win against Hickman in Columbia, including a 13-play drive that lasted the final 6:29 of the game.

"Their offense can't score if they're standing on the sidelines, so it's very important to have long drives," Bailey said. "It gives our defense a chance to rest and be fresh when they go out for their series."

A fifth straight 200-yard performance from the Jays will help that cause.

David Bethune is coming off a 102-yard game to push his season total to 505 yards on 80 rushing attempts. He scored his eighth rushing touchdown of the season in last week's win as well.

Jays quarterback Seth Brooks is coming off his best rushing performance of the season, running for 53 yards on 17 attempts to make his season total 153 yards on 58 rushes.

"Just get your run game going, normally good things can happen," Bailey said. "The weeks that you have to struggle to get your running game going you might run into a problem. The recipe really doesn't change. If you can the run the football it sets up a lot of other stuff."

Tonight's game had potential to be a good matchup in the kicking game with Jefferson City's Bassil Ahmed and Helias' Vinnie Calvaruso.

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However, Ahmed, who handles field goals and extra points, and Joe Kuster, who kicks off for the Jays, won't be available because they'll be playing in a soccer tournament in Columbia.

Two weeks ago in a 36-0 win against Capital City, lineman Josh Copeland filled in for the opening kickoff and the Jays converted a 2-point play before Ahmed and Kuster got back from a soccer game that was played earlier that evening.

"Normally big games come down to some type of special teams play," Bailey said. "Either somebody makes a big special teams player or somebody screws up a big special teams play. We want to be the team that makes a big special teams play."

Ahmed has made 15 of his 16 extra-point attempts, with his only miss being a blocked kick against Sedalia Smith-Cotton.

Kevion Pendelton ran in for the 2-point conversion against Capital City for the team's lone attempt at two points.

"My 2-point conversion plays are pretty much my first down plays," Bailey said.

Notes: Jefferson City receiver Devin White is expected to return after missing two games with a shoulder injury. White has been a boost for the Jays' rushing attack this year with 157 yards and two touchdowns on 15 attempts. He's caught seven passes for 151 yards and three touchdowns. Helias enters tonight's game in first place in the CMAC with a 4-0 record. Rock Bridge and Jefferson City are 3-1 in the conference, while Hickman is 2-2, Battle is 1-1, Smith-Cotton is 0-3 and Capital City is 0-5.

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