Hickman football drops season opener to Liberty

Friday, August 29, 2008 | 11:06 p.m. CDT; updated 3:54 p.m. CDT, Thursday, September 4, 2008
Josh Williams, left, and Drew Gieseke, center, get in position before a play on Friday night at Hickman High School in a game against the Liberty Blue Jays. Hickman lost 34-10.

Hickman fell to Liberty 34-10 on Friday at Hickman Field in a seaon opener that was marked by two vastly distinct halves of football.
Cries of amazement are usually reserved for the ball-carriers of an offense, but Friday’s game was an exception.
Hickman left tackle Evan Conrad was an absolute force up front for the Kewpies in the first half as Liberty defenders repeatedly wound up on their backs.
While most of the Kewpie roster is lined with inexperience, Conrad, who is a senior and a two-year starter, said he felt comfortable under the lights on Friday.
“Personally, I don’t get really nervous,” Conrad said. “My first time out I was a little nervous but once you get out there and play your first three or four plays you don’t have time to be nervous.”
Conrad was involved in several big plays for Hickman in the first half, including an incredible display of athleticism as he led senior running back Gary Smith through the hole on a 40-yard run. The play would set up a Wesley Leftwich field goal with 10:10 remaining in the second quarter to put the Kewpies up 10-7.
Those, however, would be the last points for the Kewpies.
Conrad put forth a sustained effort as he played the majority of Hickman’s snaps on both sides of the ball on a very warm and humid night, but as the game wore on the Kewpies wore down.
Hickman let their youth show early on with several penalties and turnovers in Liberty’s half of the field — a trend that continued for most of the contest.
Special teams errors also left the Liberty offense with a short field the entire second half, and the Blue Jays took advantage. A blocked punt gave Liberty prime field position at the Hickman 25-yard line, setting up  an 11-yard touchdown run by Liberty quarterback Jimmy Smelcer. Later on, the Kewpies would misplay a kickoff, once again giving Liberty the ball at the Kewpies 25-yard line.
“Our special teams just went sour on us,” Hickman coach Jason Wright said. “A blocked punt, a snap went over the punters head. You can’t do that against football teams.”
Liberty wide receiver Marcus Lucas scored two plays after Liberty recovered the kickoff on a 40 yard pass from Smelcer. Lucas pulled in five catches for 125 yards in the game.
Meanwhile, the Kewpies offense could never find the consistent running game they showed in the first half after sophomore running back Spenser Washington did not play in the second half following an ankle injury.
“I think when Spenser went out we lost a lot of our rhythm offensively,” Wright said.
The Kewpie offense found itself in numerous of third-and-long situations, and, after averaging nearly 14 yards per carry in the first half, Hickman had negative total yardage for most of the third quarter.
“I wouldn’t say it was something that the coaches, and not something that one individual did wrong,” Conrad said. “We had a few avoidable bad breaks. Everything we did was avoidable, and we just gave it away there in the second half.”
Despite the second half letdown, Conrad  said he thinks the best way to handle the loss is to look forward.
“We might be better off to forget about it and think about next week as number one,” Conrad said. “We’re going to fix what we can. Everything that we did is something that we can fix.”


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