Hickman sophomore Keith Kelley runs with the ball

Hickman sophomore Keith Kelley runs with the ball during the Kewpies’ game against Pattonville High School on Friday, Aug. 30 in Columbia. The Kewpie’s next game is Friday at Smith-Cotton High School in Sedalia.

Amidst the Friday evening sounds of Hickman’s marching band lies a Kewpie football team ready to get the proverbial monkey off its back.

The effort during practices has been impressive, but it hasn’t translated to wins under the Friday night lights the past two weeks. The Kewpies are 1-2 and have yet to sustain a consistent offensive attack to complement a stout defense.

Hickman’s offense has struggled all season. Senior captain Jevean Brown said it best: Defense wins championships, but offense wins games. And the Kewpies are in desperate need of winning some games.

The offense must show up at Smith-Cotton on Friday.

Hickman coach Cedric Alvis assumes responsibility for the offense’s slow start. As the offensive coordinator, he said he’s done a poor job of putting his team in positions to succeed. The Kewpies ran a new-look, up-tempo, no-huddle offense in their 23-8 loss to Jefferson City last Friday, and the push to line up and run plays more quickly should continue this week.

That look improved by leaps and bounds during practice this week with the return of senior running back Felix Pippenger, who was sidelined with an injury the first two weeks of the season. Pippenger saw the field against the Jays last week, but only for three plays.

“The offense has to put points on the board and I’m in a good position to help them right now,” Pippenger said. “Jevean (Brown) doesn’t need to be running the ball every play and taking hits.”

Smith-Cotton defeated Hickman twice last season, including a 47-26 victory in Week 4 and a 10-7 overtime victory in the first round of the district tournament.

The Tigers are younger than they were a year ago, starting a lot more sophomores. They’re also winless this season, which can be attributed at least partly to inexperience.

But the changes in personnel are the only significant differences between last season and this season. Alvis said Smith-Cotton still plays an odd front on defense, putting seven players in the box, and runs a spread offense with athletes who can make Hickman’s defense miss.

Alvis compared the Tigers’ style to Helias and Jefferson City, and said the losses and how they’ve been playing are not indicative of who they are as a team.

Still, Alvis is hoping the Kewpies can take advantage of Smith-Cotton’s inexperience, as he noted most of his players find themselves in unfamiliar territory with a winless record this far into the season.

Hickman defensive line coach Marvin Williams said the Kewpies will take nothing for granted, as he knows Smith-Cotton is as hungry for a win as Hickman.

The Kewpies still have a chance to do something special, starting at 7 p.m. Friday at Smith-Cotton.

Supervising editor is Michael Knisley.

  • A senior reporting on Hickman football for the 2019 season

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