COLUMBIA — Hickman High School football players say they plan to get ready like they would for any other game Friday night.
They will joke with one another as they prepare for the 60 minutes of football that await them. When game time comes, they will snap their chin straps and their collective adrenaline will skyrocket.
Jefferson City (8-1),
at Hickman (4-5)
WHEN: 7 p.m.
WHERE: Hickman High School, Robert M. LeMone Field
"Every Friday night, I get to hang out with my best friends," senior defensive end Alex Keith said. "Then we go out and play a game that we all love."
However, this Friday's game will be different for the seniors. It might be the last time many of them ever play competitive football.
The winner of the Kewpies' game Friday night against Jefferson City will advance to the state playoffs. For the Hickman seniors, advancing would be a wonderful opportunity and memory. But if they lose, it means the end of the season. They will miss playing; but more than anything, they will miss one another.
Senior safety Jeff Treadway said he would miss the amount of time he spent with his teammates the most when the season ends.
"The preseason starts pretty soon after the regular season ends, and then we're in this locker room more than we are at home," Treadway said. "We're around each other more than we're around our families. We're always used to being around each other and that's something that we all will probably miss."
The longer they have been part of the team, the harder it will be for players to move on.
"Some of us have been together for three years, some even four," senior right guard Tre Knoche said. "Being able to play with my friends every night is the best."
A few seniors have a chance to play college football next season. Kewpies quarterback Logan Fitch, a highly regarded recruit, thinks things might not be as warm at the next level.
"You don't get the pressure here that you get in college or in the NFL," Fitch said. "You're able to walk the halls and people know you as a football player and a student athlete. The main difference is that you're able to have those relationships, those closer relationships with your coaches and teammates that you've been playing with for so long."
Whatever happens Friday night, the Kewpies seniors would like to leave behind a positive legacy. Knoche already knows what he wants his senior class to be remembered for.
"If we beat Jeff City, well — when we beat Jeff City," he said. "We'll be remembered for that."