COLUMBIA – He finally sits down after Crandon Cook's 51-yard interception return makes it 35-0.
Until then, Ryland Rodes stood in the aisle at the top of the stands at LeMone Field with his ears plugged and arms crossed. His expression was stoic and when he speaks, it's quietly, as if the players on the field can hear him say "he's open" or "ball's out." He's been standing like that for five years.
The Kewpies were in control from the outset of their second district game of the season on their way to a win over Troy-Buchanan. The Trojans (0-9) fumbled just 16 seconds into the game, leading to a Will Owens touchdown run that put Hickman (6-3) ahead 1:45 in. They would hold that lead for the duration of the contest, extending it to 28-0 by the end of the first quarter.
Quarterback Logan Fitch was removed from the game before halftime, completing all seven of his pass attempts for 99 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for 84 yards on four carries, including a 16-yard touchdown scamper with 6:24 remaining in the half that put the Kewpies ahead 42-0.
With mostly JV players in the lineup for Hickman, the Trojans were able to rally the final score back to a respectable 49-21, but it was too little, too late.
The Kewpies finish their regular season Friday at 7 p.m. at Jefferson City.
Since 2006, Rodes and his wife Sharon have attended every Hickman football home game, watching their oldest son Tyler, who graduated in 2007, and now their youngest, Dylan has played his final regular season game at LeMone Field, part of a 49-21 victory Friday on senior night for Hickman.
Sharon Rodes's in-game demeanor differs from her spouse, though she sits just a few feet away. Whenever a silence hangs over the bleachers, she breaks it with a shrill "Let's Go Kewpies." Even with Hickman ahead 42-0 with less than 20 seconds remaining in the first half, she gets a "De-Fense" chant started in the upper section of the stands.
"I want to make sure we keep a 13 point lead in case of a tiebreaker with Jeff City," she explained. "We want that district championship."
Before the game, Sharon and Ryland Rodes escorted Dylan through the traditional senior night ceremony. With her right arm tucked inside her son's left, they walk together on the track, receiving a yellow chrysanthemum along with a purple liatris to represent Hickman's purple and gold color scheme, just as they did in 2007 with their first son.
"It was exactly the same," Tyler Rodes said. "It was kind of surreal to watch."
Tyler Rodes, now a junior at MU, has returned to Hickman for each of his brother's home games this season, but won't sit next to his parents.
"Sometimes the things that come out of my mom's mouth, I don't think she realizes it," he said. "She just gets on the coaches or refs."
That side of Sharon Rodes wasn't on display Friday, with the Kewpies rolling to an easy victory, the Kewpie parents were able to enjoy a low-stress ending to their son's home career. Rodes and most of the Kewpie starters were out of the game by halftime.
"It's always nice to get a win like this," Sharon Rodes said. "I know he won't get hurt."
The Rodes are among a group of parents that have sat just below the press box at LeMone Field for the three years that their sons have played varsity football. Included in that group is Val Leftwich, mother of wide receiver and MU recruit Wesley Leftwich.
"It's a tight-knit group of the senior parents," Val Leftwich said. "Football kind of becomes a way of life."
Wesley Leftwich was unable to play Friday, out for the remainder of the regular season with a torn meniscus. For his mother, it was saddening to see her son unable to play on senior night.
"It's disappointing more for him though," she said. "He works so hard at it."
For Leftwich, Rodes and the rest of Hickman's seniors, the win was nice, but they are focused on the ultimate goal: making the playoffs.
"It hit me a little bit when we watched a video in the locker room," Dylan Rodes said of his final game at LeMone Field. "But we really just want to focus on Jefferson City and finishing strong."
The Kewpies take on the Jays next Friday in the regular season finale at Adkins Stadium.