Jefferson City predicts Electrical vs. Kearney in Class 4 semifinals

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The Jefferson City Jays will be playing their first home game in 22 years.

The unranked Jays will host the No. 4 Kearney Bulldogs in the Class 4 semifinals at 1 p.m. today at Adkins Stadium, marking the first time that Jefferson City will host a state semifinal game since 2001 against Blue Springs. .

“It’s Thanksgiving weekend, Saturday afternoon, so it’s going to be a great environment no matter what the situation is,” Jefferson City coach Damon Wells said. “I’m sure it’s going to be a great day.”

The Jays (9-4) are in the state semifinals for the first time since 2008 and enter today’s game on a five-game winning streak, including a 31-28 win over McDonald County in the quarterfinal round last week.

The Bulldogs (11-2), who are advancing to the state semifinals for the first time since 2016, are among the winners of their past 10 games and are coming off a 35-0 shutout win at home against No. 8 Nevada.

Kearney has won each of its past 10 games by at least 16 points, with its closest victory coming in a 29-13 decision over No. 1 Smithville. The Bulldogs lost the final on September 8, 41-21. District 8 championship.

“They’re tough, incredibly tough,” Wells said. “They’re talented, well-coached, talented players. We definitely have our hands full.”

During the winning streak, Carney averaged 41.0 points per game on offense, but allowed just 9.0 points on defense.

The Bulldogs use a spread-style power run attack system with lots of moving parts and different players touching the football, which tests your eye discipline.

“They’re very healthy, but they’re willing to try anything,” Wells said. “You’ve got to be ready, you’ve got to be gap-sound. You’ve got to play solid, fundamental football.”

Kearney’s offense is centered around senior QB Casey Looney (6-foot, 174 pounds).

Looney had a three-touchdown performance last week against Nevada, two passing and one rushing touchdown, and will be a threat on the ground and in the air. Looney entered last week’s game completing 70 of 117 passes (60 percent) for 1,414 yards and 19 touchdowns.

“He has talent,” Wells said. “He puts the ball where it needs to go. You can tell there’s an aggressive feeling running through him. He’s not afraid to take off and run.”

Looney’s favorite target in the passing game is senior wide receiver Manny Lintakum (6-0, 165).

Lintakum entered the game with 28 catches for 693 yards and nine touchdowns, including a 40-yard touchdown last week at Nevada.

“He can run, he’s fast,” Wells said. “They have players at all levels.”

The Bulldogs are expected to use a number of ball carriers throughout today’s game, but senior running back Cameron Emmons (5-9, 195) will lead the ground attack.

Emmons scored Carney’s other two touchdowns last week, scoring first from 59 yards remaining and adding a second touchdown midway through the second quarter.

“He’s incredibly talented,” Wells said. “He’s fast and runs hard. He’s a load.”

The Bulldogs’ defense has been dominant lately. Carney hasn’t allowed more than 13 points in a game since their last loss.

Defensively, the Bulldogs throw a little bit of everything at teams.

“It’s a weird front defense, but they’re never afraid to be multiple guys behind that weird front,” Wells said. “They’re going to stem, they’re going to move, they’re going to play man coverage, they’re going to play zone coverage. A little bit of everything. It’s pretty multiple, but you can hear it the whole time.”

Kearney’s defense is led by four Suburban Blue first-team all-conference players: senior outside linebacker Danny Stansberry (6-2, 195), junior linebacker Theo Grace (6-2) Senior defensive lineman Aiden Smith (6-0, 210) and senior cornerback Kaden Harris (6-2, 180).

“Their defensive line plays incredibly hard, they have talented linebackers, and their secondary does a lot to minimize big plays,” he said.

The Jays will look to limit big plays on defense while controlling the clock on offense in today’s game.

“We need to minimize explosives and accumulate first downs,” Wells said. “We can’t just go 3-and-out. We’re going to have to keep playing the football and keep the momentum going.”

Jefferson City was able to overcome a 14-0 deficit after the first quarter last week and came back to win on Zach Barnes’ late touchdown run.

The Jays don’t think they can afford to get off to the same start they had today.

“I think it’s beneficial,” Wells said of the importance of a fast start. “They’re too good to get off to a slow start. They’re too good defensively to expect us to score a ton of points late in the game.”

Note: This will be Jefferson City’s 24th appearance in the state semifinal round. The Jays are 12-11 in those games, but have lost their last four. With the win, Jefferson City advances to the state championship for the first time since 1998. …Today marks the first-ever matchup between the Jays and Carney. …The winner of today’s game will face the winner of No. 2 Lutheran North (11-1) and No. 3 Hillsboro (11-1), scheduled for 1 p.m. today in Hillsboro. …Jefferson City was led by Colton Ketchum, Ryan Tassen, Anthony Seneker and Kane Furing, who each had nine tackles in last week’s win and recorded their 15th sack of the season in the contest. Fehring currently leads the Jays in tackles on the season with 83, followed by Alex Holloway with 79, and Seneker and Ketchum are tied for third with 77. Fuhring’s 15 sacks are the most in the class according to MaxPreps stats…The intrepid Lewis led the Jays in ground attack last week with 114 rushing yards and a touchdown on 12 attempts. He finished with 1,065 yards, exceeding his season total of 1,000 yards. Cantrell Jordan gained 36 for 964 yards and could reach 1,000 rushing yards this year. …Jacob Wilson had a career-high 230 passing yards last week, but most of that went to Kendrick Johnson, who is ending his career. He had five catches and 142 receiving yards.

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