Saturday was supposed to pit the Hickman soccer team against its most decorated opponent. Instead, the Kewpies will have to settle for barbecue.
The three-time defending Kansas state champions, St. Thomas Aquinas, told the Hickman coaches last week the Kewpies were not on their schedule. St. Thomas Aquinas was not able to add another game, and it was too late for Hickman to find a new opponent.
The day won’t be completely lost for Hickman. Coach Jon Strodtman will still be hosting his scheduled barbecue at the high school.
“Every year, one other team comes up, usually it’s Cape Girardeau, and we just have a big barbecue and feed everybody,” Strodtman said. “It’s just kind of a neat thing to do.”
For the past five years, Strodtman has brought his homemade barbecue smoker on an 8-foot trailer to feed Cape Girardeau before the team’s long trip back. Cape Girardeau returned the favor when Hickman traveled there, but the teams no longer play. Even without an opponent Saturday, Strodtman wanted to continue the tradition.
“I’ve always liked to barbecue,” Strodtman said.
But a 3-1 loss to Rock Bridge on Wednesday left some team members wishing Hickman, 8-2-3, still had the game. It would have given the Kewpies a chance for redemption against a program with nine Kansas state championships.
“I’d like to have that game,” senior forward Blaise Parker said. “They are a tough squad, and we wanted to play them.”
In last year’s meeting, St. Thomas Aquinas beat Hickman 2-0, but the junior varsity teams tied 1-1.
“St. Thomas is an exceptional team,” Strodtman said. “It is really unfortunate they are not coming, because I think we could still give them a pretty good game.”
Strodtman said St. Thomas Aquinas had to drop the game because it picked up another tournament, and under league rules, a team can either play 18 games and two tournaments or 16 games and three tournaments. But that’s not the case, St. Thomas Aquinas athletic director Sarah Burgess said.
Burgess said the teams only agreed to play last year in Overland Park, Kan., and only the girls teams agreed to play again this season. She said St. Thomas Aquinas never had Hickman on its 2006 schedule, so she was surprised when Hickman athletic director Doug Mirts called last week asking about the game.
“It was just an honest mistake,” Burgess said.
Hickman defender Ben Dierkes thinks there might have been another reason.
“I think they might have been scared that they might have been beaten up here,” he said.