{p dir=”ltr”}{span}On the surface, Thursday was an average mid-September day in Columbia. The Kewpies were set to play one of their biggest rivals — Battle — Friday. But it turned out to be no typical Thursday for Hickman football.{/span}

Around noon Thursday, Hickman players were alerted through their team group chat that their highly anticipated game against Battle would be cancelled due to a member of Battle’s team contracting COVID-19. Players were devastated, some had been jawing back and forth with Battle players off the field in recent weeks. The emotions were high the entire afternoon.

“I was honestly pissed,” safety Jaiden Tandy said on hearing the news. “I really wanted to play. They’ve been talking stuff. That’s our rival. Definitely want to go hit them.”

Hickman still practiced, but instead of the film session plus a few play calls typical of Thursdays, it ran a full practice. However, this wasn’t your typical hard practice. Instead, players felt like it was a light workout.

“I don’t know about (Thursday) being normal, because every day in my mind I strive to get better,” Tandy said.

“Today was a light day. We treated today like a Monday. Just lackadaisical all around,” quarterback TJ Turner said.

There was a sense of disappointment that lingered in the atmosphere at Hickman’s unusual Thursday session. There was a collective sigh each player was holding back, knowing that their practice might not be followed by a game.

With high schools taking the risk of playing their seasons with COVID-19 lurking, cancellations are to be expected. However, teams never necessarily expect themselves to be affected.

“Just goes to show how quick things can be taken away from you. Nothing is promised,” Tandy said.

Even though the Kewpies didn’t see Battle on Friday, and the game is yet to be rescheduled, the possibility of playing another team under the same circumstances remains in the air. Coach Cedric Alvis had been actively searching for an opponent for Friday evening, but by the end of Thursday night he didn’t find any luck.

While there are teams in the same situation that welcome the idea, with everything being on such short notice, the execution becomes difficult.

“I feel like we got a 50-50 chance (of finding a game),” Turner said earlier Friday. Despite players being prepared to play Friday under any circumstances, there seemed a general acceptance of the difficulty to find a game on such short notice.

This is the reality of football at any level of competition in 2020. This is the reality of sports during a pandemic.

Players and coaches alike acknowledge the fact that COVID-19 can take hold of their next game or their entire season at any moment. All parties involved acknowledge what they can’t control.

“We got into this in June and it was explained that it can happen,” said Alvis. ”Do I wish anything different? Of course. At the end of the day we were given these circumstances when we ended school in March.”

Players and staff are trying not to hang their heads, but with the first hit to the season coming in Week 3, there is still a chance that the coronavirus will do more damage to Hickman’s season.

Hickman eventually received a bye week as it couldn’t find an opponent. The Kewpies will suit up next at 7 p.m. Friday in Sedalia, where they’ll face Smith-Cotton.

  • Sports reporter, Fall 2020. Studying sports writing. Contact me at jxld3y@mail.missouri.edu or in the newsroom at 882-5700. Contributor for Fansided & SB Nation.

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