Throughout the season, the hype and excitement surrounding Rock Bridge quarterback Chase Patton might have overshadowed the Hickman Kewpies, specifically quarterback Blake Tekotte.
By the end of the season, though, Tekotte and the Kewpies dominated their district opponents and earned their first trip to the playoffs since 2000.
Tekotte, a 5-foot-11, 165-pound junior, will look to build on the success of his first season as quarterback at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in O’Fallon, where Hickman (7-3) takes on Fort Zumwalt West (4-6) in the quarterfinals of the Class 6 state playoffs.
Although Tekotte’s passing statistics are well below Patton’s, Tekotte said he doesn’t play for individual statistics. Tekotte has completed 56 percent of his passes for 1,308 yards and 11 touchdowns. He is also the Kewpies’ second-leading rusher with 572 yards and seven touchdowns.
“Chase Patton is an awesome, awesome quarterback, and you can’t take that away from him,” Tekotte said. “I think the reason why we stick out as district champs is that we have a camaraderie with each other. We have such a good chemistry with the team, and that is more important than individualism.”
While leading the Kewpies to a district championship, Tekotte has developed his method of leadership. Although he is not the most vocal player on the field, Tekotte said he finds a way to motivate his teammates.
“I am quiet and I don’t really talk that much on the field,” Tekotte said. “But whenever we need a big play, I’ll say a couple words to try to fire the guys up. Usually when I do, it works because I don’t talk much, so they’ve got to take advantage of my words.”
One of Tekotte’s favorite targets is tight end Scottie Guthrie, who has caught six touchdowns. Guthrie said Tekotte’s method of leadership has had a positive effect on his teammates.
“He’s an incredible leader; he doesn’t talk a whole lot, but he gets the job done,” Guthrie said. “He’s not a talker; a lot of guys like to talk about what they do, and especially with quarterbacks, it can be easy to be the star of the school and have everybody love him.
“He just goes out there and does his business and doesn’t have to say anything. You look up to someone like that.”
Coach Gregg Nesbitt said Tekotte was learning the position, along with his leadership role, as the season progressed.
“Blake is an outstanding athlete and he is very intelligent,” Nesbitt said. “He’s a 4.0 (grade-point average) type guy.
“I think he has continued to develop and his future is really bright. I think he’s just reached the tip of the iceberg on how good of a quarterback he’s going to be.”
Tekotte’s athleticism is not only evident on the football field, but also on the baseball field. This summer, Tekotte, who plays center field for Hickman during the spring, played for the Midwest Prospects as the only 16-year-old on the 18-and-under team. He led the team in home runs and was second in RBIs. Tekotte said playing baseball this summer helped him with his focus on the football field.
“It taught me a lot about self-discipline,” Tekotte said. “Baseball is a mentally tough game, more so than football. I think playing baseball in the summer has helped a lot this season.”
In the past few years, leading Hickman’s option style offense has been a dangerous task. Since 1999, four of Hickman’s starting quarterbacks have missed time with injuries. Tekotte missed most of last year after he broke his collarbone in the preseason. This year, Nesbitt said he adjusted the offense to protect Tekotte as well as to take pressure off a small offensive line.
“We didn’t have any experience in our offensive interior,” Nesbitt said. “Knocking people off the football was going to be a stretch to say the least. I think Blake is an outstanding option quarterback because he can run and make some big plays with his legs. But that offense demands (the quarterback the ball) 15 to 20 times a game; you’re going to get banged on 25 to 30 (option plays.)”
Using the spread offense, Tekotte and the Kewpies have increased their offensive production, going from 18.2 points per game last year to 27 this year.
“Last year we had a team low, only averaging about 18 points a game,” Tekotte said. “Coach looked around for another style of offense and from where we are right now it seems like he picked a pretty good one.”
Tekotte learned the offense quickly. In the first game against Pattonville on Sept. 5, he threw for 178 yards and three touchdowns. Guthrie caught all of the touchdown passes in the Kewpies’ 35-7 win.
“As a receiver, there is nothing better than having a ball put on your numbers,” Guthrie said. “It is always great to get that glory, but everyone on the team understands that the glory changes from person to person from week to week. Blake does a great job of spreading the ball around.”