COLUMBIA—For their team, it was something different. But for quarterback Mason Murray and wide receiver Roderick Beasley, it was all too familiar.
The Hickman football team hasn't typically mounted its success on the passing game. Coach Arnel Monroe, a 1985 graduate of the school, says the ground game has been a staple since his playing days in the program.
Hickman (1-1) at Fort Zumwalt East (2-0)
WHEN: 7 p.m.
WHERE: Fort Zumwalt East
"If you get too far away from what you're practicing, you're out there on a limb," Monroe said. "We're gonna continue to do what it is we do. At Hickman, we're gonna run the football."
But last Friday night on the road against Wentzville Holt, the Kewpies (1-1) were without their two star rushers, Justise Keith and Bohannon Davidson, the seniors both sidelined with leg injuries sustained in the week prior.
In their absence, Murray spearheaded the scoring attack of the Kewpies in the 30-15 win against Holt, as the quarterback played pass-and-catch with a longtime friend. His first throw of the game went to Beasley for a 50-yard score, and Murray and Beasley would connect twice more in the endzone in the first half.
"Those guys pull for each other," Monroe said. "They're friends, and they're in it together."
The two have been playing together since the seventh grade. They can remember those days on the field like they can remember even younger days on the basketball court, playing against each other in youth leagues.
"He's someone you can always rely on to throw the ball to," Murray said of his receiver who also stands out as a defensive back.
Monroe referred to Keith and Davidson as game-time decisions for Friday's game against Lee's Summit East. Murray said he'd like for the aerial game to assist in production where it could.
"Now, since Bo and Justise are out, the passing game needs to help out just because they're gone and we’re more limited on running backs," Murray said.
Against Holt, Monroe still clung to his run-first philosophy and dug into his depth. Junior Cameron Wright carried the ball 23 times and took advantage with 134 yards.
"We’ve worked really hard at letting these kids know they're gonna have to play football this year," Monroe said in a year of seeing his roster size drastically chopped down due to former players enrolling at Battle. "We're not that deep. We're gonna have to use what we've got."
On the other side of the playbook, the Kewpies have a pass game built upon play-action, the side of their game they used Friday to bounce back from a week 1 upset loss to Lee's Summit North.
"The style of offense we play, when we throw, we're going down field," Monroe said. "Our style of offense, we're not as spread and wide open, but when we throw, we go down the field."
Dashing away with the speed that helped him earn a spot on last season's all-state team will be Beasley.
"I just try and find a way to get open so I can get the ball," Beasley said.
"I really hate losing," he added. "Like, I'm not losing again this season."