It’s one thing to lead by your actions. It’s another to do it five times over.
Welcome to Cedric Alvis’ world.
Entering tonight’s game against Blue Springs (3-0) at 7, Hickman (2-1) has senior Alvis slated to start at five different positions: wide receiver, cornerback, place kicker, kick returner and punt returner. Because of the injury to Blake Tekotte, Alvis now serves as the Kewpies’ backup quarterback, as well.
“I don’t know if there’s anything that we’ve found that he can’t do,” coach Gregg Nesbitt said.
As far as Alvis is concerned, the more ways he can get into a game, the better.
“Every kid growing up wants to do everything, but I love the game itself,” the three-year varsity starter said. “Being able to play at different positions is something the Lord has blessed me with.”
His versatility on the field hadn’t emerged completely, until last week, when Alvis added punt returning to his skills. Alvis will be the first one to admit that returning punts wasn’t a job he was eager to try as a sophomore.
“I didn’t want to do it at first. I was always afraid of that first guy hitting me,” Alvis said. “It’s easier to make him miss now. I have a lot more confidence.”
The first responsibility for Hickman’s punt returner, according to Nesbitt, is to catch all fieldable punts. Last week, Alvis accomplished that with three returns for 38 yards.
“He’ll bust one (for a touchdown) before it’s over,” Nesbitt said.
Three games into the season, Alvis has had little trouble finding the end zone at wide receiver. Quarterback Andrew Perkins has connected with Alvis on four touchdown passes so far this season. Showing a knack for the big play, Alvis averages nearly 29 yards per reception.
Alvis has done it in a variety of ways, whether it’s catching a five-yard out against Lee’s Summit North and turning up field for a
55-yard score or simply jumping over a taller Rockhurst cornerback and taking it 35 more yards for the touchdown.
“Now, at this point, he’s not worried about the big play,” Nesbitt said. “He’s not thinking score, he’s thinking about fundamentally catching the football.”
Fellow senior wide receiver/defensive back Jimmy McNeil, who first began playing with Alvis on a flag football team in third grade, said it’s his intangibles that set Alvis apart.
“He’s a crowd favorite. He’s not the biggest guy on the field, but he seems to want it more,” McNeil said. “We have confidence to just throw it up for him.”
Although Nesbitt recognizes Alvis’ athleticism on the field, he said his actions off the field have had just as big of an impact on the team.
“I think he’s really taken it to another level this year in terms of his preparation, and ultimately, then, other kids acknowledge that,” Nesbitt said. “That allows him to be the type of leader that he has become in our football program.”
Alvis will have his hands full once again tonight when the Kewpies travel to Blue Springs to face the top-ranked Wildcats.
Coming off a 44-0 win against Parkway South last week, Hickman will face one of its toughest challenges of the season. Along with its No. 1 position in the state in class 6A, Blue Springs is also ranked 13th in the nation, according to USA Today’s Super 25 prep poll.
“My teammates and I couldn’t care less about their ranking,” Alvis said. “We want to be physical with them. We want to show them that we’re not afraid to match up against them.”
The Wildcats boast two Division-I prospects, Jaron Baston and James Stigall, who will lead Blue Springs defense in its attempt to stop Hickman’s rushing attack, which averages 185 yards per game.
Defensively, Nesbitt said his team’s main concern will be preventing big plays from the Wildcats’ 6-foot-5 quarterback Luke Whitworth
“Their quarterback can really strike you vertically,” Nesbitt said. “We think our secondary has played awfully well, but this is the biggest test for those guys because of Whitworth.”