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story.lead_photo.caption Capital City running back Ethan Wood tries to break free from the Warrensburg defense during last Friday night's game at Adkins Stadium. Photo by Liv Paggiarino / California Democrat.

The road ahead for Capital City doesn't get any easier in Week 2, as the Cavaliers will travel tonight to Columbia to take on Battle.

It will be the inaugural Central Missouri Activities Conference game for both teams, a week after the Cavaliers played their inaugural varsity game. Capital City begins CMAC play with the three Columbia public schools, as it is scheduled to host Hickman in Week 3 before traveling north to take on Rock Bridge.

The Cavaliers are looking to bounce back after a 48-7 home loss to Warrensburg in the season opener. Capital City defensive coordinator Cameron McDaniel noted Battle runs almost the same spread offense Warrensburg ran, along with a few other similarities.

"They're big and athletic. Both of those things jumped out in the first clip," McDaniel said. "But that's not specific to Battle. Those two things apply to everyone on our schedule."

Battle beat four CMAC opponents (Jefferson City, Hickman, Rock Bridge and Sedalia Smith-Cotton) by an average of 24 points per game last year.

The Spartans opened this season with a 60-43 non-conference home win against Fort Zumwalt North — the team that ended their season last year in the Class 5 District 4 championship game, ending the program's run of five consecutive district titles.

Capital City started the first and third quarters slow last week, whereas Battle led 20-7 after the first and gained separation by outscoring the Fort Zumwalt North 22-0 in the third.

The Cavaliers' tackling improved as last week's game wore on, and it will need to be shored up to contain the Spartans' dynamic playmakers.

"The biggest things are looking at what we need to be looking at, stepping where we need to be stepping and playing as hard as we can," McDaniel said. "I don't think we did a great job in those first two things last week. We need to make sure we're focused on fundamentals and getting those squared away."

Junior running back Gerry Marteen Jr. scored five touchdowns last week — two on the ground and three on kickoff returns. Capital City allowed a 91-yard kickoff return to start its season, but McDaniel doesn't anticipate the Cavaliers changing anything schematically.

"We just need to be better at covering kickoffs," McDaniel said. "Last week was a learning experience, so we got a feel for the level of speed at the varsity level. All we can do is try to be better this week."

Limiting Marteen Jr. and senior dual-threat quarterback Khaleel Dampier (two rushing touchdowns last week) are the focal points of the Cavaliers' defense. On the other side of the ball, Battle recovered three fumbles last week, while Capital City lost both of its fumbles.

One weakness the Spartans showed last week was in the kicking game. While the offense had no trouble putting up points, Battle made just 2-of-5 PATs.

Capital City recorded 18 yards of offense and one first down in the first quarter against Warrensburg, and had 57 yards in the first half. The Cavaliers' wing-T offense started to gel in the second half, racking up 186 rushing yards on 49 carries.

Capital City never quite got its passing game on track, as junior quarterback Kaden Dassrath completed just 1-of-6 passes and had an interception returned for a touchdown.

"It really depends on what the defense gives us," Dassrath said. "We're not necessarily looking for perfect balance. If the defense lets us do one thing more than the other, we'll stick with that."

Warrensburg sacked Dassrath three times and pressured him on nearly every dropback, something the Cavaliers are hoping to correct this week.

"Up front, we're focused on recognizing who to block," Dassrath said. "We need to communicate better as an offense, whether that be going on one or two or who's pulling."

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