82
      Friday
      93 / 70
      Saturday
      92 / 69
      Sunday
      92 / 71

      Tough times for Stars

      For the Jefferson City Jays, it was another season-opening win against McCluer North.

      For the Stars, it was another tough night.

      But it had nothing to do with their 17-0 loss, or that they're now 0-9 all-time against the Jays, or that they've lost those games by an average margin of 30 points.

      On this night, it had nothing to do with football.

      When the Stars left Adkins Stadium after Friday night's game, they returned home to Florissant, which is a neighboring city of Ferguson.

      If you haven't heard what's been going on in Ferguson, well, that's on you. Missouri has been in the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

      Very sad.

      "We're trying to keep our kids focused; we're just trying to get by day-to-day," said first-year Stars coach Courtland Griffin, who took over after the 36-reign of Jim Schottmueller ended last fall. "The kids don't get to go to school, which is the toughest part."

      McCluer North, like other schools in the Ferguson area, was scheduled to start school on Aug. 13. Then it was moved up to this past Monday. They still haven't started --- they'll try again this Monday.

      "Routine is so important," Griffin said. "They're used to getting up, going to school, going to practice, then going home.

      "But we'll make it; we're striving through adversity in the whole community."

      Robert Regans Jr. is a senior defensive back for McCluer North football. He's dealt with a bad situation quite well said his Father, Robert Sr.

      "He's a mature young man, going into his senior year of high school. He's dealt with the tragedy of the situation very well."

      Said his mother, Jamese: "He's a pretty focused kid and he just put his trust in God. I think his main concern was whether this day would come, or not, and they'd get to play football."

      Due to the unrest, there were days when the Stars were unable to work out at their own facility. But, thanks to Rams coach Jeff Fisher, they were able to practice at the NFL team's practice facility.

      "They were blessed enough that he reached out to them," Jamese said.

      Peter Love has lived his entire life in the area, and has been a bus driver in the school district the past 11 years.

      "It's been quite distressful and stressful for all of us ... people want things to get back to normal," Love said. "Like these students who play football, they want to get back into their academics."

      Peter is 63, but his appearance and wisdom says he's a lot older.

      "For the most part, the residents who are doing the peaceful demonstrations and expressing their concerns, they're more or less going home," Love said. "But in the evening, it's a rowdy bunch that gets together and taunts the police.

      "But now, things have subsided substantially. The last few nights, they've made a lot of arrests and weeded a lot of those guys out of there, and it's coming back to calm."

      Amen.

      III

      AS FAR AS THE GAME GOES, it was hardly a dazzling offensive affair. But if you like defense, well, both defenses were as suffocating at the weather.

      But it was the Jefferson City defense --- which had five interceptions, two by Zach Bond --- that pitched the shutout.

      "We thought coming into the season that our defense would be very strong and tonight, they were as good as we've seen around here in a quite a while," Jays coach Ted LePage said. "(McCluer North) couldn't run the football and went strictly to the passing game, and I thought we did a great job there, too.

      With five interceptions, you could say that --- especially when you consider the Jays had six all of last year.

      "I'm just very, very pleased with our defensive effort," said LePage, in his ninth year with the Jays.

      The game was scheduled to kick at 7 p.m. But the temperature was 102, it was moved back to 7:30, and eventually started at 7:45 p.m.

      Fittingly, the defense set up the game's first score, when Dominic Truss was sacked for an 18-yard loss, he fumbled, and the Jays recovered at the McCluer North 1 in the second quarter.

      "That was awesome, a big-time play to get the sack and make him put the ball on the ground,"LePage said. "After that, our kids kind of relaxed and played."

      On the next play, Elijah Pittman bulled into the end zone to give the Jays a 7-0 lead at half.

      It moved to 10-0 midway through the third quarter on a booming 46-yard field goal --- two yards off the school record set by Joey Lopez in 1993 --- by J.T. Bohlken. And he's only a junior, sports fans.

      "He's special," LePage said. "That made it a two-score game and the way our defense was playing, that was huge."

      Isaac Roling, a senior making his first varsity start at quarterback, finished the scoring on a 9-yard run later in the third. But overall, the offense had its struggles.

      "We tried to limit our mistakes," LePage said. "At times, we moved the football, but they created some confusion with their athlete. I think their speed really effected us."

      With all they've been going through, the Stars battled to the end.

      "They never gave up and they played hard the entire game," LePage said. "They gave a first-class effort and considering the situation they've been going through, they was very impressive."

      Indeed.

      "I'm glad they got to play a football game to help them get back to reality," Robert Regans Sr. said. "It's a very nice distraction for these young men."

      Sometimes, it's more than just a game.

      III

      LET THE TAILGATES BEGIN: The first of four Central Bank/KRCG Tailgates will be held Saturday evening at Adkins Stadium, as Helias gets set to host Nixa in an 8 p.m. kickoff.

      While supplies last, fans will receive a free t-shirt, quarter pound hot dog, Hy-Vee chips and a coke product. The tailgate will run from 6-7:30 p.m.

      The game was originally scheduled for a 3:30 p.m. start on Sunday and would have been televised nationally by ESPNU, but was moved to Saturday night due to the forecast for extreme heat. ESPNU will not televise Saturday night's game.

      Other tailgates are set for Sept. 12 at Blair Oaks, Sept. 26 at Adkins Stadium (Jays game) and Oct. 10 at California.