Good and bad for Helias in Jamboree

WARDSVILLE — There were good things and bad things Friday night for the Helias Crusaders.

It was a normal football Jamboree.

“It’s always good to get out and see some different competition,” Crusaders coach Phil Pitts said after Helias faced Blair Oaks and Centralia at the Falcon Athletic Complex. “Jamborees are quick, but it’s important work.”

In the Jamboree format, Helias had 18 plays on offense and 18 on defense against the other two teams. The Crusaders played their first units for the first nine, then had the reserves on the field for the second nine.

“It was good for our young guys to get out there and play against another team,” Pitts said. “It’s a good experience for them, a chance to see them and evaluate them without worrying about your record.”

Helias opened against Centralia. The Crusaders opened on defense and held the Panthers to three first downs and two total yards in their 18 plays.

Offensively, the Helias first team scored twice in its nine plays. Junior quarterback Alex Faddoul completed a 24-yard pass to Hale Hentges to start the first series, then hit Todd Buschjost for 14 more. Faddoul then took it over from two yards out.

Later in the first nine plays, Faddoul found Kale Gerstner for a 23-yard touchdown. Faddoul finished 4-of-6 passing for 73 yards.

The Helias second team got a touchdown on a 4-yard run by Malik Davis. Davis is battling Clayton Winter and Jacob Storms for the starting running back spot.

“Malik has a lot of ability to take it the distance, Clayton;s a steady runner and Jacob can make some good cuts,” Pitts said. “They all are going to get their opportunities.”

Helias then took on Blair Oaks and the first team got one touchdown on a 30-yard pass from Faddoul to Weston Porter.

One downside to that series of plays was an injury to lineman Cole Johnson. The junior went down with a knee injury, the severity of which wasn’t known after the Jamboree.

Blair Oaks’ first unit scored on Helias in its series. The second units for the Crusaders and Falcons also scored a touchdown each.

Helias’ score came on a 16-yard pass from Chandler Luebbert to Porter. Luebbert and Curtis Campbell are fighting for the No. 2 spot at quarterback for the Crusaders.

“We’re trying to decide who’s going to be our JV quarterback between those two,” Pitts said. “We need a guy who can run the offense, they are both capable, but they both have some things to work on.”

The second team was slowed because of problems with the center-quarterback exchange in the shotgun formation.

“Our No. 1s didn’t have any problems with it, that’s the big thing,” Pitts said. “We’ll get that worked out.”

Defensively, the Crusaders recovered three Falcon fumbles in its 18 plays. But Blair Oaks scored its second touchdown on a 35-yard pass and a 33-yard toss set up its first score.

“We ran to the ball really well, we were physical,” Pitts said. “We have a couple of things to shore up in our pass defense, but we still have time to do that.”

After years of three-plus hours round trips to Jamborees in recent years, the short ride to Wardsville was sweet for the Crusaders.

“I am so thankful to coach (Brad) Drehle and Blair Oaks for inviting us and to Blair Oaks and Centralia agreeing to play us,” Pitts said. “It’s wonderful to not have to travel.”

Helias will open the regular season Sunday, Aug. 24, against Nixa at Adkins Stadium.

“We started counting down to the season with 80 days to go and now we’re down to single digits,” Pitts said.

Game time is 3:30 p.m. (ESPNU-TV).

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