The Hannibal football team will play two levels up at Class 6 Jefferson City on Friday in the first matchup between the schools since 1989.
Mark St. Clair was in his first season as an assistant coach when the Hannibal football team last played Jefferson City 29 years ago.
The Pirates have never faced the program during his tenure as head coach, which began in 1997.
That will change Friday night at Adkins Stadium.
Hannibal and Jefferson City are set to square off for the 45th installment of an old rivalry.
Hannibal, a perennial Class 4 contender, will hit the road to play two levels up against the Class 6 Jays, who are coming off a 37-0 loss to Kirkwood in coach Terry Walker's debut.
“We really can't sit around thinking about how they're going to respond to their first game against a very good Kirkwood team,” St. Clair said. “We don't know how we're going to match up against them until we get down there, and quite honestly we can only control how we get ready.”
The Pirates fell just short in a 35-34 loss to Helias in their opener.
Hannibal rallied to score 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter at Porter Stadium but was stuffed at the goal line on a 2-point conversion attempt with 2:36 remaining.
“I think it's been a little bit of a wakeup call,” St. Clair said. “We played pretty well, and it was a great high school football game. But there are little things we need to correct to get better.”
Hannibal's offense was balanced a week ago with 233 yards on the ground and 213 more through the air.
Gabe Worthington threw for 133 yards and ran for 102 more as a dual threat at the quarterback position.
“Gabe did a great job running our offense last week,” St. Clair said.
Dezi Jones was the featured target against Helias with three catches for 142 yards, while Danny Colborn, Lawson Rickey and Will Whitaker all had receptions as well.
Out of the backfield, sophomore Damien French rushed for 75 yards and two scores on just 11 carries in his first varsity action.
“Damien has got all kinds of ability,” St. Clair said.
Hannibal, which out-gained Helias by more than 100 yards of total offense, was hurt by Crusaders backup quarterback Jacob Weaver, who threw for 159 yards and four touchdowns.
The Pirates allowed 212 passing yards while limiting Helias to 133 yards on the ground.
“I don't think we're seeing the field as well as we need too, and we've worked on that this week,” St. Clair said of his secondary. “We've got to understand what the offense is presenting and have an awareness of the down and distance and where we're at on the field.”
Braden Schlueter led Hannibal with 11 tackles in the opener, while Adriec Brumbaugh and Dante Reading each had 2 ½ tackles for loss.
The defense will be in for another tall task this Friday as the Pirates will be physically out-sized by Jefferson City.
“Jeff City presents us with some challenges,” St. Clair said. “We're playing one of the biggest schools in Missouri. They have a lot of great athletes, and they're going to be bigger than we are. But you don't win games on paper, you win on execution.”