COLUMBIA — With the game clock expired and the fans shuffling out of the stadium, the Hickman football team (3-5) huddled around coach Arnel Monroe on the 20-yard line. The players took a knee, bowed their heads, and took a brief moment to pray after a 21-6 loss to Rockhurst (5-4).
Rewind the clock a few hours, and it seemed like the night was full of hope. Monroe had just returned to the team the day before. Hickman was coming off an overtime win over Jackson. It was Homecoming and Senior Night. And their opponent, typically a state powerhouse, was in a rare season slump.
It seemed like the perfect time for Hickman to take the win. But that hope was crushed, quickly.
Rockhurst dominated on both sides of the ball. The defense held Hickman running back Justise Keith to 15 yards and sacked quarterback Mason Murray five times in the first half.
The Kewpies could only muster up 138 yards of total offense, and were kept off the scoreboard until late in the fourth quarter.
The Hawklets' offense was destructive with 58 rushing carries divided up by nine different players. Kiah Kintchen was their standout with 72 yards over 15 carries with two touchdowns.
When the team finished it's moment of silence, Monroe gave a speech. He told his players that the new season had started, everyone was 0-0, and that they still had a shot to make a run in the playoffs. He said that they couldn't afford to give up yet.
"We've been in every football game we've played this year, win or lose," Monroe said. It's wide open, anyone can win. It's a new season, and that's we're going to look forward to."
Murray seemed to have shrugged off the loss by the time he stepped off the field.
"They (Rockhurst) are a great team," Murray said. "We played our butts off to the very end. We just need to focus on the playoffs now."
Supervising editor is Nina Pantic.