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story.lead_photo.caption Frank Gillmore of Jefferson City and Quinton Baker of Helias shake hands following Friday night's game at Adkins Stadium. Photo by Jason Strickland / News Tribune.

It's standard issue coach-speak.

"We're taking it one game at a time."

Uh-huh. When you hear it as a reporter, you try not to roll your eyes because you know some games are bigger than others.

Like the one Friday night at Adkins Stadium. Jefferson City hosting Helias in football for the first time.

One game at time, my

"We always talk it's one week at a time, but we knew this game was Week 7," Helias coach Chris Hentges said after the Crusaders defeated the Jays 28-0. "It was hard not to be looking ahead to this game."

Hard not to look ahead? Try impossible when you have two programs that have played a combined 1,700-plus games, used the same home field for most of the last 60 years, are a little more than a mile apart in a town that treasures its high school sports — especially football — and have never played before.

It was kind of a big deal.

The only disappointing thing Friday night was thinking about what the atmosphere would have been like with a packed house. With health protocols, the crowd was limited to those who had the required participant cards.

Jefferson City allowed eight per participant, visiting Helias got five, which is one more than it has allowed at its home games at Ray Hentges Stadium this season.

That added up to a crowd Friday night of approximately 3,000. But in a normal year, you probably could have at least tripled that total in attendance.

"With the limitations on seating and all of that, it probably wasn't what it should have been," Jefferson City coach Scott Bailey told Jason Strickland of the News Tribune on Friday night. "If there weren't any limitations on seating, you probably couldn't squeeze another butt in this place anywhere."

It wasn't the best game ever played at Adkins Stadium. But it was competitive, with the Jays defense holding the Crusaders to 14 points heading into the fourth quarter before Helias put the game away with two more touchdowns.

Edition No. 1 of the rivalry is now in the books and Helias has possession of the Mayor's Cup, a traveling trophy awarded by the Kiwanis Club to the team that has the best record in the matchups between the Crusaders, Jays and Capital City Cavaliers.

Now the Crusaders and Jays can get their focus back on the last two weeks of the regular season and hopefully deep playoff runs.

"As much as we tried to stay loose this week, we all felt the magnitude of this game," Chris Hentges said. "I knew there would be some nerves and jitters.

"I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm glad it's in the rearview mirror."

When I hear all of the reasons this game was never played before, the one I put most credence in was the belief the city couldn't handle it.

There would be too many hard feelings on one side or the other because of what happened in those four quarters.

But Friday night went as well as anyone could have expected. Both schools, teams and fan bases should be proud of the way they conducted themselves.

That was the biggest win of the night.

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