Hickman senior Kyle Nuelle said before the season that his team’s only goals were to beat Rock Bridge and win the District 6 title. The Kewpies were successful achieving both, and two of their key players reaped the benefits Wednesday.
Nuelle and Hickman teammate Luke Harper along with Rock Bridge seniors Chase Patton and Van Alexander earned places on the Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Class 6A All-State football team.
Titles are well-deserved
In 2002, Patton made All-State, and Alexander received second-team honors. This past season, Patton and Alexander led the Bruins to an 8-2 record and the North Central Missouri Conference championship.
Gatorade named Patton, a quarterback, Missouri High School Boys’ Football Player of the Year. He ended the season 179-for-279 passing for 2,622 yards and 30 touchdowns. He hasn’t decided where he will attend college, but he has narrowed his choices down to Missouri, UCLA, Tennessee, Iowa and Kansas State.
Alexander’s team-leading 138 tackles helped him make All-State as a linebacker, but he also played tailback. He rushed for 667 yards and 11 touchdowns on 86 carries. He verbally committed to Missouri this past January.
Once in a lifetime
Bruins coach A.J. Ofodile said his two seniors are irreplaceable.
“Those guys are once in a lifetime kind of players,” he said. “They were a coach’s dream. I’m very excited for those guys. The honor is well-deserved.”
Despite a brutal schedule, Harper and Nuelle helped the Kewpies reach the state semifinals, where the Kewpies lost 17-7 to eventual champion Blue Springs. They finished the season 8-4.
Harper played center on an offensive line that was vital to the Kewpies’ success. The line had to adjust to a more pass-heavy offense this season. In previous years, Hickman’s offense was built around its option running game.
Harper, a junior, was All-State as an offensive lineman, but he made All-District as an offensive and defensive lineman.
Nuelle had 123 tackles and a team-best seven sacks. He stood out in a stellar group of linebackers that included All-District selection Adam Perkins.
“Hearing (Nuelle made All-State) made me feel great,” Harper said. “He deserved to get some credit for knocking people around all year.”
Harper is competing as a heavyweight for the wrestling team. He qualified for the state tournament his first two years, and he finished with a 32-8 record last season after advancing to the quarterfinals.