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Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

'Jays, Rams to battle for Distict

Wednesday, November 3, 2004

(Photo)
Quarterback Josh Marshall has thrown for over 1,000 yards this season.
CHARLESTON -- Uncanny similarities exist between the two teams, Charleston and Scott City, competing for the Class 2, District 2 football championship on Thursday.

"From a defensive standpoint, I know how hard it is to prepare for us," said Scott City coach Terry Flannigan, in his first year back at the school he led to the '98 championship, "and we've got to turn around and prepare for a team that is very similar."

Balance and versatility are key attributes of both. Each squad features elusive 1,000-yard ball carriers, leader-type quarterbacks who run the offense well and a quality stable of receivers.

Scott City senior Matt Schaefer leads all area rushers with 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns. Doubling as the Rams' placekicker, he also tops area scorers with 140 points. "Schaefer has run for more than 100 yards in every ballgame," said Anderson. "We have to slow him down, not let him break the big run."

Joseph Watts, Charleston's sophomore tailback has carried for 1,051 yards with 14 touchdowns. Watts also rushed for more than 1,000 yards as a freshman.

"We've got to control their running game and not let them get out and run wild," said Flannigan.

Triggering the offenses are Scott City senior Mark Johnston and Charleston junior Josh Marshall.

Lefty-throwing Marshall has completed 86 of 163 attempts for 1218 yards and 12 scores, while Johnston, who Anderson hails as "the heart and soul of that team" has completed 58 of 101 for 908 yards with 10 scoring tosses.

Marshall has a cadre of receivers led by 6-6 senior Ashton Farmer. Farmer has 37 catches for 515 yards and three touchdowns.

Sophomores Bobby Clark (11-240-2 TDs), Justin Clark (16-238-4 TDs) and Jamarcus Williams (18-233-2 TDs) are other dangerous targets in the Blue Jay air attack.

"They're a two-headed monster," said Flannigan. "We're going to have to control the line of scrimmage, then do the best we can on the passing game and not let them big-play us to death."

Senior Luke McClellan leads the Rams' receiving corps with 17 catches for 330 yards and four touchdowns, while Jason Schenimann (14-163-3 TDs) and Matt Backfisch (8-128-1 TD) and Schaefer (16-94-2 TDs) have all made contributions to the passing game.

The two teams further mirror each other on the defensive side of the ball as both have held district opponents well in check.

Overall, Charleston has allowed 15.4 points per game -- factoring in a 44-0 defeat at the hands of powerful Caruthersville -- while Scott City has allowed 11.6.

The Blue Jays have given up just six points in its two district wins, while the Rams have limited the opposition to only 12 in its two victories.

Neither program, Charleston (7-2) nor Scott City (8-1), is new to this situation.

This will be their fifth meeting in seven years to determine the district title. In head-to-head matchups, Scott City won in '98 and '99, while Charleston won in '00 and '02.

"I know they want that district championship just as bad as we do," said Flannigan. "It should be a big game on both sides."

Playing at Charleston's Marshall Field may give the Blue Jays a slight edge.

Said Anderson, "We're undefeated at home and we always feel we have an advantage on our home field."

The Rams have incentive, as well, with a persevering group of seniors not ready to end their high school careers.

"That group deserves everything they get," said Flannigan, of his seniors who have experienced difficult times. "I'm their fourth head coach in four years. they were looking for a little stability, a chance to believe and a chance to go out and prove that they could win some ballgames.

"This is where we wanted to be and we were just hoping that we would have a shot. We've set ourselves up for the shot and now we've got to try to make the best of it."