COLUMBIA — As each player came to the sideline, they were told the news by their teammates. The word was passed from player to player, and with each passing moment the excitement grew.
"We were getting updates from the coaches' iPhones," Hickman quarterback Logan Fitch said. "The more we got up by, the more they seemed to be losing by."
Before Hickman's 33-0 victory at Troy Buchanan last Friday was officially over, the players and the fans in attendance already knew: Jefferson City had been beaten by Fort Zumwalt West. At that moment, this Friday's game between Hickman and Jefferson City took on new importance. The winner's will continue on into the playoffs. The loser goes home.
"You know what they say, it's for all the marbles," Kewpies defensive coach Roderick Williams said. "This game will be special."
In the current MSHSAA playoff structure, each team in Missouri must win two of its last three games, which are district games, in order to advance into the playoffs. Each district contains four teams and two of them advance. The fact that the Jefferson City Jays are 8-1 and Hickman is 4-5 doesn't matter. Each team is fighting for its second district win and a playoff berth.
If Jefferson City had won, and Hickman were to beat them this Friday, and Fort Zumwalt West beat TroyBuchanan this Friday, it would have created a three-way tie. Then it would have come down to points scored.
No one has to worry about any crazy scenarios now.
"We talked about the scenarios and knew it was a possibility," Hickman coach Arnel Monroe said. "It's better this way. We were trying to get here. They (the players) are ready for it."
The Jays had been ranked No. 1 in Class 6 in the state rankings before last week's loss. Even though Hickman is at home, Monroe said this game will not be easy for the team.
"They are one of the best teams in the Midwest," Monroe said. "They present a multitude of problems for everybody, they've proven that through nine other games."
Last season, Hickman was presented with the same situation. Each team was 1-1 in their district going in to the final game. Hickman lost 35-28 and missed the playoffs. Fitch remembers how that felt.
"This could possibly be our last week of football for us seniors," Fitch said. "So we're definitely going 110 percent each rep, and each time we step out on to the field. This game means a lot to all of us."