Do-or-die district play has arrived for Hickman’s football team, and the buzz won’t confine itself to the field.
“It’s going to be crazy,” Hickman student Kale Davis said. “People are going to be running around the hallways yelling about how we’re in districts. It’s just what they do. It’s districts.”
In their second of three district games Friday night at 7 p.m. against rival Rock Bridge, the Kewpies (6-1) will put their No. 1 ranking and five-game winning streak on the line.
Some Hickman students have no doubt that Friday will just be another step to their school’s first state championship in 30 years.
“Because we have such a large number of seniors coming back this year, they’re going to make it (to the state championship),” senior Korey Skala said.
When the Kewpies climbed atop the Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association poll four weeks ago after a 34-16 win against then top-ranked Blue Springs, expectations around the high school seemed to climb.
“It was a real shock,” Alaina Marrone, a member of the cheerleading squad, said. “No one actually realized how good we were until we played (Blue Springs).”
Senior Jay Johnson said that while beating Blue Springs and moving into a No. 1 ranking might have been surprising, especially with a season-ending injury to quarterback Blake Tekotte, Hickman students knew the football team’s experience would give them a chance to be successful.
“Last year, a lot of our strengths were from juniors like Blake, Brandon Kendrick and Cedric Alvis. They were all coming up huge as juniors,” Johnson said. “This year as seniors everyone knew they were going to get bigger, stronger and faster, and now they’re putting the numbers on the field.”
Along with expectations that a No. 1 ranking brings, the possibility of falling lurks right behind.
“I think we’re very capable of beating anybody,” Hickman athletic director Doug Mirts said. “But then again, I think we’re also capable of getting beat by a lot of folks too.”
Now on the administration end of Hickman football, Mirts still feels the nostalgia of playing for the Kewpies. Standing in the main office at the front of the high school, a smile begins to form when he recalls his days as a Hickman football player.
“The locker rooms, the fields, the practices and the traveling,they’re good memories,” Mirts said. “Coach (Greg Nesbitt) and his staff have put out a lot of great memories for kids whether they win it all or not.”