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Columbia Missourian

Murray, Cowan make connection in Hickman football's passing game

By Matthew Fairburn
September 7, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT
Quarterback Mason Murray throws a pass at football practice Thursday at Hickman High School. Hickman plays Smith-Cotton at home Friday.

COLUMBIA — Every chance they get, Mason Murray and Jake Cowan spend time on the sidelines at Hickman football practice playing catch and talking with one another.

Murray, a junior, is Hickman’s first-year starting quarterback. Cowan, a senior, is Murray’s backup, but also one of his favorite receivers.

Friday night's game

Smith-Cotton (0-2) at Hickman (2-0)

WHEN: 7 p.m.

WHERE: Lemone Field at Hickman High School

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Murray and Cowan have developed chemistry on the field, which is an extension of a friendship that goes back to Murray’s freshman year. That friendship, along with the hard work the two put in over the summer, has provided positive results for the 2-0 Kewpies.

“We have great chemistry,” Murray said. “We’ve been working together all summer and all last year. We’ve always connected.”

Cowan spends most of practice getting repetitions at receiver, his primary position, but he also benefits from the reps he takes at quarterback.

“It helps me learn what I want the receivers to do, so that I can do that for (Mason) when I’m out there,” Cowan said.

Hickman coach Arnel Monroe said that while Cowan spends some of his practice time under center, he is still a key part of a deep, talented group of wide receivers.

“Jake reluctantly plays backup quarterback, but he’s faster than you think,” Monroe said. “We’ve got a great set of receivers, and Jake’s one of the leaders in that group.”

Cowan proved his prowess as a receiver in the Kewpies' home opener last Friday night.

Hickman was leading Wentzville-Holt 6-0 in the second quarter in sloppy conditions. The rain had briefly subsided, though, and Monroe was ready to open up the playbook.

“We were in a dog fight,” Monroe said. “When it stopped raining, we knew we had to take our shots and make something happen.”

After spending much of the first half handing the ball off, Murray was eager to take shots down field. Murray’s first two deep passes fell incomplete, but with one minute, 55 second left in the second quarter, Murray’s favorite target found an opening in the secondary.

Cowan ran a corner route towards the goal line, and Murray didn’t hesitate to let it rip, connecting with the 6-foot-tall wide receiver for a 30-yard touchdown.

“It was a great catch by him,” Murray said. “It felt great to finally get it to work.”

The touchdown was yet another example of the chemistry the two are developing on and off the field.

“We know that we’ve got each other’s back,” Cowan said. “We help each other out. If I screw up, he’s going to come over and help me. If I see he’s doing something wrong, I’ll go help him. We’re not really worried about outside things. We’re just trying to get better on the field.”

Having a trustworthy target like Cowan has certainly helped Murray, who has been efficient in his first two starts for Hickman. Still, Monroe thinks his young quarterback is just getting started.

“We really haven’t opened up to everything he can do,” Monroe said. “We hope to do that, because he’s a special, special kid.”