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story.lead_photo.caption Jefferson City coach Scott Bailey stands on the sideline during a game against Helias at Adkins Stadium. Photo by Jason Strickland / News Tribune.

In the Oct. 7 edition of the News Tribune, there was an ad that was hard to miss.

It was a two-page spread in the A section paid for by the Jay Football Foundation with the text "Coach Bailey, We know good coaches change games. Great coaches change lives. We're so blessed & thankful you're here. We support you!"

Someone is satisfied with what Jefferson City football coach Scott Bailey has done in his first few months on the job, and wanted everyone else to know it too.

They also wanted Bailey to know it, especially, because sometimes there just isn't a whole lot of positive feedback directed at whoever is the Jays football coach.

It's a difficult challenge to take on. While it is one of the most renowned coaching jobs in the state because the history of the program, the old days of Jays football when losses were seldom and winning a state championship was the expectation only puts a burden on those currently in charge.

Bailey joined the Jays after 14 years at Lamar, only losing 41 times for about an average of three losses per season. What's important to note is most of those defeats came in the first seven years and were few and far between in the next seven.

The Jays began the season 0-3 with losses to Wentzville: Holt, Hannibal and Rock Bridge.

But Bailey has taken over a team that is on its third head coach in four years and went 2-8 last season.

Even though Bailey came from a Lamar program that dominated Class 2 football from 2011-17 — winning the state championship in all seven of those years — winning right out of the gate shouldn't be the expectation.

There's a building process that needs to take place before the win and loss columns became a priority.

First, Bailey made sure to make a connection to the senior class that has endured numerous coaching changes.

"It was a smooth transition," Jays senior Jacob Duke said after the Week 4 win against Sedalia Smith-Cotton, the team's first of the season. "He pulled all the seniors aside and told us, 'What can I do to make your senior better for you?' You could really tell he cared a lot. That kind of started a bond between everyone, a pretty strong bond just knowing he had our back and he cared about us."

Next is the task of making a first impression on the underclassmen that he'll need to stick around and trust him in the years to come if progress is going to be made.

Bailey is a coach who wants things done a certain way, whether it be the details of practice and the pregame routine, or making sure the locker room and field aren't littered with athletic tape, equipment or anything else.

He wants to be tough on his players, but that's just the passion he has for football and being a teacher and role model for the kids.

"He even asked us one day, 'How am I being? Am I being too hard? Do you want to be coached harder?'" Duke said. "And we all told him to expect more out of us and that's what he's been doing these past weeks in practice, in games with film, grades, in school, he's expected more and has been on us more and made us more accountable."

The bond grows from there. Bailey sets a certain standard, the players follow his lead and eventually the wins will come.

What's important to remember is it doesn't happen in a day, a week or even in a year or two.

Lamar became a small-school powerhouse in football under Bailey and now he's bringing that knowledge to a football program that has history of being dominant among the big schools in the state.

When just the coaches and players came together for a postgame meeting following the Week 1 game, Bailey saw that as odd.

It wasn't what he was used to coming from Lamar, where the entire community was welcome to huddle around the team after each game, win or lose.

So since Week 2, the families have surrounded the team and have at times participated in the postgame discussions on the field.

"I've been a part of football programs that made themselves exclusive," Bailey said. "They're exclusive to the student body, pretty much exclusive to the community. It just didn't feel right to me. I always felt like if you could do something and do something well, and make it inclusive, it'd be more worthwhile."

Bailey is investing his time and energy into the kids and the Jays football program.

The short-term results have been a 3-5 start to the season. The long-term returns could be worth waiting for if enough is invested back into Bailey and the rest of the coaching staff.

"Anytime you're involved with a school you're going to have to get enjoyment out of the kids," Bailey said ahead of Friday's game against Battle, "because that's who you serve. The enjoyable part of this are the kids."

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