COLUMBIA – More than 44 years later, former Hickman quarterback Dave Moore can still diagram the formation.
Some things have changed. Now the president of Shelter Insurance, Moore has traded locker rooms for boardrooms. Instead of quarterbacking a Hickman team that scored what could be the biggest win for any Kewpies football team, he leads a 2,000-employee company that operates in 14 states.
Hickman (6-3, 1-1) at Jefferson City (5-4, 1-1)
Time: 7 p.m. Friday
Location: Jefferson City
Radio: KTGR/1580 AM
The Kewpies take on the Jays in the 105th edition of the storied rivalry. The stakes are simple: Winner moves on to the playoffs, loser’s season is over.
Hickman holds a slight edge in the series at 51-50-4. The series has not been tied since 1919 when it stood at 3-3-2. The Jays had opportunities to even it in 1999 and 2001 but failed to do so.
The Kewpies defeated Troy 49-21 last week while the Jays fell 56-49 at Fort Zumwalt West.
Rock Bridge (4-5, 1-1) at Blue Springs (7-2, 2-0)
Time: 7 p.m. Friday
Location: Blue Springs
The Bruins head to Blue Springs needing to win to have a chance to advance to the playoffs. Rock Bridge is coming off a 51-27 defeat at the hands of Blue Springs South, while the Wildcats beat Liberty 51-13 last week to clinch a playoff berth.
But with the 105th edition of the Hickman-Jefferson City rivalry set for Friday, he still remembers Oct. 7, 1966 — the night he and the Kewpies broke the archrival Jays then-national record 71-game winning streak.
He darts his dry erase marker around the whiteboard in the conference room adjacent to his office. This is a pleasure for him. When he finishes his drawing, he stops and chuckles.
“We ran this formation just about every down,” he says, referencing the unbalanced line that the Kewpies used to vanquish the mighty Jays. “They couldn’t get outside and stop it.”
He is not the only one who remembers. Fullback Val Patacchi, responsible for much of the blocking on those sweeps, remembers the entire week leading up to the victory.
The preparation for Jefferson City was different. It was clear to the players that coach Bob Roark, who was 0-8 against Jefferson City’s Pete Adkins, wanted this one. Badly. The week before the matchup with the Jays, Hickman defeated Mexico 41-0 to move to 3-1. No one celebrated that victory for long. Roark didn’t let them.
“Normally we had started practice on Monday, but for Jeff City we started that Saturday, which was unheard of,” Patacchi, who is now a medical sales director based in Honolulu, said.
“Because of the game the night before, guys were tired, myself included. I executed a block halfheartedly and Coach Roark was yelling at me at the top of his lungs, which he had never done before. He grabbed my facemask and with his face about six inches from me, he said ‘Son, you play like you practice.’”
From that moment on, according to Patacchi, the intensity of the week’s practices was ratcheted up to another level. It was partly because of Roark’s raw enthusiasm, but the players were also excited about a wrinkle their coach had put into the offense to befuddle the mighty Jays defense: the unbalanced line.
With a backfield that Roark once called “the best in my 20 years of coaching,” his plan was to move an extra tight end to one side of the formation along with another running back in order to set up the outside run. Running backs Odon Logan and Bob Shamberger, Roark felt, were fast enough to turn the corner if they got the blocks they needed.
Friday came, and for Moore it was hard to pay attention in school. The challenge was daunting for the Kewpies. Jefferson City’s last loss had come Oct. 30, 1958, nearly eight years earlier. Hickman had lost eight straight to the Jays by a combined score of 186-40. But most impressively, the Jays had Adkins, who had amassed an outrageous 76-1-2 record since taking over for John Griffith after the 1957 season.
“We prepared better than anyone else in the state,” Adkins said. “We outworked other teams, and we had better personnel and did more things.”
Not to mention the rivalry factor. The teams have been playing since 1911, and it’s believed to be the second-oldest rivalry west of the Mississippi behind Webster Groves-Kirkwood. Its folklore would deepen considerably on this night.
The game itself wasn’t that close. Tied 6-6 at halftime, Hickman broke it open on two touchdown runs by Logan during the third quarter. The Hickman crowd could feel the victory getting closer.
“No. 72 is not for you,” they jeered at the Jefferson City fans.
When the final whistle blew, the Jays’ fans were shocked. They didn’t move from their seats.
“They were glad it happened at home,” Moore said. “If it had happened on the road, they wouldn’t have believed it.”
Meanwhile, the Kewpies fans that had made the 29-mile trip created a mob scene on the field.
“I remember Odon and myself were hoisted onto shoulders,” Patacchi said. “The tears were flowing from our eyes.”
A dejected Adkins had the job of consoling his players. Losing by three touchdowns, he said there are no excuses to be made for what happened that night.
“We have no alibi, it was one of those nights where they did everything right, and we couldn’t get anything going” he said. “I told the kids that it had to end at some point. Seventy-one wins in a row are better than 71 losses.”
As the bus full of players pulled back into the Hickman parking lot after the game, fans crowded around looking for a view of their newfound conquering heroes.
“Coach Roark told us we might want to put our helmets on to get back to the locker room,” Moore said. “We had to really push our way through the mob to get through.”
Once back inside the locker room, the jubilation was obvious. Even Roark, who Patacchi says was emotionally guarded, was as happy as his players had ever seen him. He was quoted in the Columbia Tribune on Oct. 9, 1966 saying that it was his “greatest thrill in 25 years of coaching.” But through the excitement and celebration, Moore remembers his coach found time to put things into perspective.
“He said ‘I just want you guys to remember you just won your fourth straight game, but those other guys just won 71,’” Moore recalled. “That made me realize what they had done and also what we had done.”
The effects of that game have stretched long beyond that week. Both Patacchi and Moore called the experience life changing and said that it has affected them in their successes in the professional world.
“It taught me to be a true believer and never lose sight of the goal that I'm after,” Patacchi said. “I think I can speak for most of us in saying, there will always be a soft spot in our hearts for each other based on what we went through and what we achieved.”