Before the high school football regular season gets under way on August 30, three St. Joseph city teams will clash in the 2019 City Football Jamboree tonight at Missouri Western.
The jamboree will be held at Spratt Memorial Stadium and will pit Lafayette, Benton and Central against one another. Regi Trotter is one of three head coaches heading into just their second season with the team, and he is looking at Friday’s jamboree as an opportunity to clean things up before the regular season starts.
“The biggest thing for us is to go out and compete and get ready for our season,” Trotter said. “We’ve got a very good schedule, and we want to make sure we’re as sharp as we can possibly be to win game one. Game 1 is against Smithville, a very talented Smithville team coming to town. (The jamboree) is our first dress rehearsal against another team.”
Central will keep their schemes relatively the same, a 3-4 base defense and a split backfield. Trotter isn’t changing anything up too much, but there will be a few tweaks to the offense.
“We did make a few changes on offense,” Trotter said. “We’re doing a more pro style. We’ll still get into shotgun, get under center, which is something we didn’t do a lot of last year. We’ll basically scratch what itches and move the football down the football field.”
Another second-year city coach is Benton’s Kevin Keeton. The Cardinals may have gone 2-8 last season, but Keeton has over 20 years of coaching experience. With that long history, Keeton’s priority heading into the jamboree is his team’s well being.
“Well, No. 1, we didn’t come out of the jamboree (last season) healthy,” Keeton said. “So our No. 1 goal is to stay healthy. We’re looking forward to it. We feel like we had a great offseason. We feel like we had a good summer. We’re ready to see if we’ve gotten closer.”
Keeton says his team needs to transition the success they found during the summer into the jamboree and the regular season.
“We need to be more consistent,” Keeton said. “There were times last year on both sides of the ball, man we looked like gangbusters, and there were times we didn’t play consistently.”
Benton will return with a 3-4 defense and the wing-t offense. At quarterback will be senior Caden Stone.
The Lafayette Fighting Irish come into Friday’s jamboree with a 3-4 defense and a core group of players returning, with the likes of junior wide receiver Miles Henderson and senior quarterback Daeton McGaughy. Last season, McGaughy scored accounted for 40 touchdowns and 3,276 total yards.
Coach Eric McDowell — another second-year coach — believes many teams will have a difficult time dealing with McGaughy and company.
“He’s gonna be one of the toughest players in the area to defend,” McDowell said. “At the same time, he has enough weapons and what we hope is a good enough O-line to do the things we want to do.”
The jamboree starts tonight at 6:30. The format will consist of three different quarters where both offenses get 18 total plays. The first quarter will be Benton versus Lafayette, followed by Central versus Benton and then capped off with Lafayette against Central.