As he threw passes to his teammates during summer seven-on-seven drills, Hickman’s Andrew Perkins, a junior quarterback, did not expect to see that practice come into play so early in the season.
When senior Blake Tekotte, who was Hickman’s returning starter at quarterback, went down with an injury early in the first quarter during the season opener Sept. 3, Perkins showed few signs of inexperience.
“(This summer) was huge,” Perkins said. “I was the only one there, so I got all the reps. I benefited from it big time.”
Perkins threw for 226 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score in the Kewpies 37-7 win against Lee’s Summit North.
The Kewpies play host to third-ranked Rockhurst at 7 tonight, Perkins will make his first start for Hickman at quarterback, a position he has played since childhood.
“I’ve been a quarterback since fifth grade,” Perkins said. “So I was introduced to it at a pretty young age.”
Although Perkins expected the bulk of his playing time to be on defense and at receiver, playing him at quarterback didn’t create much uncertainty.
“(Coach Gregg Nesbitt) said in the beginning of the season that we could win with both (Tekotte and I),” Perkins said. “He just wants everyone to be comfortable and realize the situation.”
Nesbitt said, though he is confident with Perkins’ ability, the loss of Tekotte will affect the Kewpies in a serious way.
“It’s a huge hit to our football team. Blake’s one of the top two or three quarterbacks in Missouri and is also, we think, the best punter in the state of Missouri,” Nesbitt said. “It’s no different than Missouri losing a Brad Smith. It certainly cuts into the depth of our football team.”
As far as Rockhurst coach Tony Severino is concerned, Perkins might have well been Hickman’s starting quarterback.
“Had my guys not told me (about Tekotte’s injury), I would have thought he was the No. 1 guy,” Severino said. “There’s not much drop off.”
Tonight’s matchup will be the first since a 1998 state playoff game, which the Hawklets won 43-16. Because of the unfamiliarity, both coaches said they will head into the game focusing more on their own teams’ game plan than their opponents.
“(Hickman’s offense) is a far cry from ‘98,” Severino said, “but they have a lot of weapons on offense with big play capabilities.”
Last week, Rockhurst, who returns four starters on each side of the ball, lost its season opener to top-ranked Blue Springs 29-9. Turnovers ultimately decided the game, which Rockhurst dominated statistically. The Hawklets fumbling on a kickoff return and lost the ball again on a fourth-and-goal situation.
“We’re playing one of the premier teams in the Midwest. For them to lose two in a row in the regular season is almost unheard of,” Nesbitt said. “If we play at a decent level, those same (turnovers) will be the difference for either one of us.”
Nesbitt said the play of his new starting quarterback will have strong bearing on the outcome tonight.
“The first thing you ask any of your quarterbacks is not to beat you with turnovers, poor decisions and managing the game,” Nesbitt said. “With a high-caliber opponent like Rockhurst, there’s just no margin for error.”