Speed and explosiveness. It's what the Jefferson City Jays have come to expect when going up against the Battle Spartans.
This year is no different.
"We're going to have to be able to match the speed and athleticism and get off the ball and get people blocked," Jays coach Scott Bailey said ahead of tonight's game at Adkins Stadium.
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
Last week against the Helias Crusaders, the plan for Jefferson City was to keep the offense on the field to keep the ball out of the hands of the Crusaders.
That's what the Crusaders ended up doing to the Jays to win 28-0 in the first meeting between the crosstown rivals in football.
Jefferson City will attempt to execute that game plan tonight against the Spartans, who average 43.4 points per game.
"I won't say there's anybody similar to them just because of their athletic ability and their speed out on the edges," Jefferson City defensive coordinator Jeff Jacques said. "They're big up front. Their scheme is a little different than anyone else we've played and they're just very explosive."
Battle (4-1) has won two straight games — 37-36 at Moberly and 49-9 against Sedalia Smith-Cotton — following a 41-19 loss at Helias back in Week 3.
The Spartans are 2-1 in the Central Missouri Activities Conference while the Jays are 3-2.
Scoring quickly is the Spartans' DNA. Four of their six touchdowns last week went for at least 48 yards.
Gerry Marteen, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound junior running back, has run into the end zone 13 times for the Spartans. He's carried the ball 67 times for 704 yards to average 10.5 yards per rush.
"They're big bodies and they know how to cover up the defensive line," Jacques said of Battle's offensive line. "And they've got some skilled running backs that if you give them a little crease they're gonna break it."
At quarterback for the Spartans is senior Khaleel Dampier (5-10, 160), who has 224 yards on 43 rushing attempts.
The big-play ability doesn't stop with the run game. Dampier has completed 26 passes for 461 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions.
When he gets it to 6-2 senior receiver Manny Chiteri, there's always a chance of a score.
Chiteri only has six catches this season, but has 228 yards and two touchdowns.
Senior receiver Tommy Atherton (5-11, 170) has nine receptions for 144 yards and a touchdown.
"They're big playmakers," Jacques said. "Very similar to what we faced last weekend. They expect every play to bust for 60 or 70 (yards), so we've got to stop the big plays."
Draining clock can help prevent many big plays from happening. That's what the Jays did two weeks ago in a 17-14 win at Hickman.
"Hopefully keep our defense on the sideline because our defense played three quarters of football last Friday and our offense played a quarter," Bailey said. "It'd be nice if our offense this week played three quarters of football and our defense played a quarter. It's kind of a recipe for success right there; just keep your offense on the field and your defense on the sideline. Helias did that last week but we didn't."
The ingredients are a strong push up front with a healthy portion of running backs David Bethune and Kevion Pendelton, fullback Jacob Duke and quarterback Seth Brooks running with the football.
Bethune leads the Jays with 552 yards rushing on 97 carries with eight scores.
Battle hasn't been able to stop many offenses, as the Spartans allow nearly 20 points per game.
Fort Zumwalt North put up 43 points in Week 1 and Moberly scored 36 in Week 6 against Battle.
"Got to block people to get first downs and score," Bailey said. "Going into the (Helias) game I felt like if we kept it from being a shootout with them we could win the game. And our defense did that, they kept it from being a shootout. And we didn't win the game because we just didn't have any success on offense.
"Big key for us this week is getting our offensive line to block people so that we can get our run game going so that it will help our pass game get going."