The whiteboard in the Hickman locker room read, “You will be held accountable today.”
After playing sloppy football in recent weeks, the Kewpies hit a low point in their season by fumbling eight times against Rockhurst on Friday night. To remedy the mistakes, the coaching staff added a new aspect to practices this week: “Accountabilities.”
The idea is that when players make mistakes, they will run sprints, do push-ups or do up-downs after practice to be held accountable for their errors. Coach Jason Wright implemented the discipline after watching film of Hickman’s last game.
“We got to hold guys accountable for not hustling, not blocking, not hitting,” Wright said. “Those are things that they (the players) have been coached to do.”
Senior lineman Lucas Little said that holding players accountable has become a major part of practice this week.
“In practice, if you’re not going to be accountable for you, then (the coaches) are going to make you accountable,” Little said. “Every time you bust, you mess up, then you’re going to run a sprint. (The coaches) keep tallies during the practice and then at the very end, that is when we run them together.”
Running the sprints together is the most important part of the postpractice discipline for senior wide receiver Derrick Smith.
“I think it is good because it is letting people know that the team is responsible for everybody,” Smith said. “If one person messes up, it affects the whole team. Say somebody has one lap, everybody is going to run that one lap together because we are a team. We are going to win as a team and lose as a team.”
Wright does not view the running as punishment, but instead sees it as the team being forced to take responsibility for its actions.
“We’re not brow-beating anybody,” Wright said. “We’re just trying to hold guys accountable. In the past we’ve had seniors, juniors that would hold guys accountable. With this squad, we (the coaches) got to do the holding accountable. It’s not a mean spirited thing. Running is the best teacher.”
Smith and Little said the team is starting to come together as a unit. The problem is that Hickman’s record is 1-4. Smith is focused on erasing that mark from his mind and stressing to the team that the season is not over yet.
“We had a little talk on Monday. We’re halfway through the season and we just see it as a new season,” Smith said. “I think we came together as a team (Tuesday) at practice. I think we are going to put it all together.”
Little said this season can be saved for Hickman, but the team has to act now. He felt the need to call a team meeting after Tuesday’s practice. The act was unusual for Little, but he felt it was something necessary to get Hickman on a winning track.
“I’ve never been one of the guys that says a lot,” Little said. “I’m always the one to demonstrate on the field. (The coaches) told me that when I speak, I need to speak from my heart, that is what (the team meeting) was. I just got everybody together and told everybody how I felt. That was something we haven’t had all year.”
Little said he feels a sense of urgency as the schedule winds down and that he is surprised at how quickly time has elapsed.
“You’ve been working out for nine months, since January, and all you have is five weeks left,” Little said.
Smith has put the emphasis on the upcoming district schedule. In Missouri high school football, a team’s district record is all that matters in terms of qualifying for the postseason. There are three other teams in Hickman’s district: Fort Zumwalt West, Fort Zumwalt South and Jefferson City.
Hickman plays these teams in the final three games of the season. The team that has the best district record of the four will earn a playoff birth.
“Districts are wide open and we can still have a chance,” Smith said. “It doesn’t matter what your nondistrict record is. You can be 0-7 and win your district games and still go on to the playoffs.”