Competition strong for football Jays

Gabe Marcantonio hands off the ball to Rahem Moorman during football camp Wednesday at Adkins Stadium.

Gabe Marcantonio hands off the ball to Rahem Moorman during football camp Wednesday at Adkins Stadium. Photo by Julie Smith.

It isn’t hard to find the theme of Jefferson City’s offseason activities: Competition.

After seven Jays signed to play college football on signing day (and more are likely to find a spot on college rosters), summer has been a chance to see who will step into new positions.

“It’s fun to watch the competition that’s going on,” Jefferson City head coach Ted LePage said as the Jays wrapped up a brief camp earlier this week. “We have a lot of guys vying for 22 spots. I think that’s something that’s really unique and exciting about this team.”

One battle in particular stands out above the rest .as senior Gabe Marcantonio and junior Isaac Roling are battling for the starting quarterback job. Thomas LePage threw for more than 1,400 yards last season, but he also brought familiarity to the position as he started two years and played a role his sophomore season.

Now the reins will be handed to a new quarterback.

“What we’re looking for right now is the confidence to run the team,” LePage said. “There’s a certain experience and confidence that comes from being a quarterback and you have to display that to the rest of the team.”

LePage said Marcantonio has been running more with the first-team offense during camp, but noted Roling is right there.

Also battling for time will be Dalton Green and J.T. Bohlken.

“They are coming in early and meeting with coach (Lerone) Briggs, our quarterbacks coach, going over distinctive reads, going over things that are happening,” LePage said. “After practice they are staying and looking at different scenarios.

“(Monday) they came out and they were doing different steps and coach Briggs was talking to them. That lets me know they are really engaged into learning that position.”

The Jays concluded camp this week and left Wednesday for a team camp in Bentonville, Ark. It includes Arkansas powerhouses such as Bentonville, Shiloh Christian and Springdale Har-Ber.

“Arkansas has spring football,” LePage said. “These guys have already been through the month of May and spring football drills. They are going to be more precise on their fundamentals. They are going to be more precise on their plays. They will be more precise on their defenses.

“Last year what we took coming out of Bentonville was we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

One notable change for the Jays is they will not take part in a preseason Jamboree.

The Jays had partnered with Liberty, Liberty North and Hickman in past years. But with the other three going separate ways this year, the Jays will host Jay Football Night on Aug. 23 at Adkins Stadium, which will feature scrimmages from eighth grade through varsity. The Jays will open the season Aug. 31 at McCluer North.

With Jamborees featuring a limited number of plays and no special teams, LePage hopes the new plan is successful.

“I hope it’s a good idea,” LePage said. “It sounds good right now. We’re going put a lot of emphasis on that Friday night making it game-like and making it longer than what our Jamboree is.”

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