JEFFERSON CITY — The Hickman football team got a chance to to see how it matched up against a real opponent Friday with a preseason jamboree, but there were no real winners or losers.
After a disappointing 4-6 season last year, the Kewpies played against three area teams. Coach Jason Wright said his team went 2-1 with victories over Lebanon and Jefferson City and a loss to Rock Bridge, but more importantly, he had an opportunity to evaluate his team for the first time.
Things didn’t start quite as planned.
The Kewpies' secondary was burned on the first play when Lebanon connected on a 40-yard touchdown pass. Months of training, lifting, sweating and suffering had generated anticipation and excitement. Suddenly it was gone, and the buzz from Hickman's sideline vanished.
However, senior quarterback Matt Herman knew his team wasn’t going to fold after the initial blow.
“Everybody makes a mistake, and everybody gets back up and goes,” Herman said. “We’re not down on anybody, we’re not pointing a finger at anybody, we’re pulling everybody together.”
Hickman’s defense held Lebanon in check for the rest of the scrimmage, creating some momentum for offense’s first snap.
Herman looked to make a quick strike of his own, hitting junior receiver Wesley Leftwich in stride down the right sideline on Hickman’s first offensive play, but Leftwich dropped what would have been an easy touchdown.
The Kewpies quickly rebounded, though, and on the next play, Wesley took an option pitch from Herman 40 yards down the field for a touchdown.
“It was good experience to get there and play someone other than the same guys we play in practice,” Herman said. “We work and work and work, so it feels good to come out here and go against somebody else.”
Senior linebacker Josh Williams admitted his team might have been looking forward to starting the season a little too much.
“On the ride down everybody’s got butterflies and everybody’s all quiet on the bus and that’s not our team,” Williams said. “Our team’s really hilarious and fun. I think we’ll be more calm and more poised in the first game. We may have come in a little too jacked up.”
The anticipation led to multiple mental breakdowns throughout the night. Hickman allowed back-to-back 40-yard touchdowns to start the scrimmage against Rock Bridge, but Williams said this was the best preseason he has been a part of, and he said he thought his team was prepared.
“We have a lot of fun and we just worked really hard this offseason,” Williams said. “Some of those losses last year were truly unacceptable, so we had to put in the work. We showed a little bit of what’s to come, but we’ve got some more work to do. We’re going to get better.”