Today's Edition About us Local Opinion Obits Sports Things to do Classifieds Newsletters Podcasts Contact us

Jefferson City, Helias and Blair Oaks selected to host MSHSAA football title games

by Tom Rackers, Jason Strickland | September 30, 2020 at 5:25 a.m. | Updated September 30, 2020 at 5:26 a.m.
Adkins Stadium, home of the Jefferson City Jays and Capital City Cavaliers, will be one of three hosts for the Missouri State High School Activities Association football championships this fall.

The Missouri State High School Activities Association was looking for a place to move this season's football championship games.

It found three.

MSHSAA announced Tuesday that Adkins Stadium at Jefferson City High School, Ray Hentges Stadium at Helias High School and the Falcon Athletic Complex at Blair Oaks High School will serve as host sites for Class 1-6 championship games.

"This one was a case of us reaching out, rather than seeking proposals from other places," MSHSAA communications director Jason West said. "We wanted to try to keep them centrally located, if we could, and take into consideration where fans would have the best opportunities as well. So sticking close to Mid-Missouri, our first phone calls were to Jeff City, Helias and Blair Oaks."

And the three were quick to respond in the affirmative when they were contacted about two weeks ago.

"We heard at the meeting Tuesday that within 45 minutes of getting the email from MSHSAA, all three schools responded yes," Helias activities director Tom Guinn said.

Jefferson City High School has hosted a state championship game before. In 1977, the Jays defeated Hazelwood Central 20-11 to win the Class 4A state crown at then Public School Stadium, when schools still hosted championship games.

Adkins Stadium is ready for a another opportunity.

"It's perfect for it, really," Jefferson City district activities director Ehren Earleywine said. "And (MSHSAA) knows that because we do state track and they know the facility really well. I think they have a pretty high comfort level with it because they are so heavily involved with state track. They pretty much take the place over.

"Adkins Stadium is probably as nice a football stadium as there is in the state. I haven't been to all of them but it's a nice one for sure."

For Blair Oaks, it's a chance to shine a spotlight on the Falcon Athletic Complex.

"It's a neat opportunity," Blair Oaks athletic director Corey Felten said. "Obviously, we have a facility that we're very proud of and get to showcase it to others, giving our hospitality to two other teams in the state."

Faurot Field at the University of Missouri was scheduled to host the championship games, scheduled for Nov. 28 and Dec. 4-5. Missouri will host Arkansas on Saturday, Nov. 29, in a game originally scheduled to be played at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City. So the Class 6 game scheduled for Friday, Nov. 28, needed to find a new home.

And with the possibility of continued football activities for the Tigers throughout the next week, the other title games needed to be moved as well.

"I don't want to make it sound like MU kicked us out because they don't want anybody on their campus," West said. "That really wasn't it, they were kind of hogtied themselves because of the new SEC football schedule."

The decision on which site will get which game or games is still to be decided. The only restriction is none of the four schools - Jefferson City, Capital City, Helias or Blair Oaks - would get to play on its home field if it advances to the title game in its respective class.

"It could honestly be decided after the semifinals are played," Felten said. "It really could come down to that, depending on who's in it. Now obviously, if something were to happen, and none of us make it to the semifinals, they could lock it in after the quarterfinals at that point."

The dates for the games are still to be decided as well. A site could host a single game Friday and Saturday, or it could have two Saturday games.

"If you have two on Saturday, you would need to put a pretty good gap between start times to give fans the opportunity to leave and clean things," Guinn said. "MSHSAA doesn't want fans from two games getting together."

MSHSAA officials plan to visit each of the facilities late next month to see what the organization needs to host a title game.

"(MSHSAA assistant executive director Greg Stahl) just wants to see logistically what each of us could do if we held a championship," Earleywine said. "How many video rooms do you have? Do you have a place for the media? Do you have a place for both teams to have full locker room capabilities? He went down that list of logistics."

Another topic to be addressed is attendance.

Jefferson City and Helias are members of the Central Missouri Activities Conference. The conference has implemented restrictions on attendance this season due to the pandemic, issuing cards to members of the football team, band, cheerleaders and dance squads.

For example, Helias has issued cards numbered 1-8 to those students. But the most amount of cards it has allowed to purchase tickets to go to football game so far this season has been numbers 1-4.

"(MSHSAA) doesn't have to abide by our guidelines because it's their event," Earleywine said. "So our 20 percent capacity at JC and at Capital City that we've been using this year, those are all self-imposed. That was nothing that the county made us do. Since the county doesn't have a mandate, then MSHSAA, if they are hosting an event, they can have as few or as many people attend as they want.

"However, I think they are going to pretty much mirror what all three of our schools are currently doing. So for us that's 20 percent, which is around 1,500 at Adkins Stadium. I think that's the tentative plan. That hasn't been confirmed yet."

Blair Oaks has no attendance restrictions at its football games this season.

"When you talk about Jefferson City and Helias right now, they're on a 20-30 percent capacity of their stadium, which runs about 1,500," Felten said. "Currently, we're unlimited, but just to make it even across the board, no matter who went where, the seating capacity I think we set would be the same."

Three Columbia high schools - Battle, Hickman and Rock Bridge - are also CMAC members. They have allowed just the No. 1 card to buy a ticket at their home games to limit attendance. That could be one reason that trio were not approached to host the title games.

Helias was scheduled to host a youth wrestling tournament the weekend of Dec. 4-5, but that will be changed to a new date, Guinn said. Blair Oaks is hosting the Tri-County Conference basketball tournament that weekend. In the past, fifth- and seventh-place games were played Friday, with championship and third-place games Saturday.

Jefferson City has no home wrestling or basketball activities scheduled for those two days.

MSHSAA will have financial agreements with the schools for hosting the championship games. Those have yet to be finalized.

"It's good revenue for us," Earleywine said. "They're going to allow our people to work concessions and our booster clubs will really benefit from that. We're going to probably hire most of the gate workers and just the event type people and MSHSAA is going to pay those folks. It'll be nice and it'll generate some revenue for our city.

"It is going to require some work on our administration's part but it's well worth the trade-off for what our community gets in return for it."


Sponsor Content