Since June, the fate of Hickman’s 2020 football season has been unclear.

COVID-19 has taken the athletes just off the classroom, not to mention off of the practice field. Yet the Kewpies find themselves still playing football in late October, heading into the final game of the regular season with a record of 2-5..

Despite an unpredictable season, Wednesday’s cloudy practice held a sense of normalcy for the Kewpies. The team organized onto the grass area behind their home stadium tossing the ball around and while practice got underway. The mood was light-hearted, with running back Keith Kelley getting teased about the color of sweats he decided to wear to practice.

After last week’s loss to rival Rock Bridge (5-2), coach Cedric Alvis made sure his team knew that the season wasn’t over just yet. Playoffs and a chance to bring a victory over Smith-Cotton home to the Robert M. LeMone Field are still within reach for the Kewpies. Every practice leading up to that final game is a chance for the team to improve on the previous week’s mistakes.

“There’s been some good and bad as we’ve been adjusting,” Alvis said. “Being able to practice, being able to play and just have that sense of normalcy has been great for our players academically by holding them accountable, but of course gameplay-wise we hate to lose this much.”

Wednesday’s practice included a new kickoff return play, a light scrimmage and, at times, dancing in between sprints to the early 2000s songs coming from the soccer game next door.

As the Kewpies head into Friday’s home matchup against Jackson (8-0) at 7 p.m., there is no denying the burden on their shoulders.

Hickman hasn’t won a game since Sept. 28, a 26-16 win over Smith-Cotton. Since then, the Kewpies have dropped many games due to their inability to avoid turnovers or their tendency for making mental mistakes.

A positive takeaway from the Kewpies’ latest loss is that the offense was finally able to break through with 32 points, the second-most scored this season. Against the Bruins, first-year quarterback TJ Turner threw for two touchdowns, both one were caught by one of his cousins, wide receivers Devin Turner and LaJavion Williams. But Hickman’s record doesn’t show the small improvements the team has been making.

“We’re all pretty anxious to turn our season around and really get hot going into the playoffs since that’s when it really matters,” senior offensive lineman Wil Schommer said. “We really want to get back to our roots.Moving the ball the way we want and our defense continuing to play solid and hopefully getting a win.

While the pressure is on to prevail against the undefeated Jackson squad, the Kewpies remain optimistic for the dDistrict playoffs. The 2020-21 season has been anything but what the players and coaching staff could have expected, but Hickman has managed to develop something essential — {span}—{/span} a strong team bond.

“I got a lot of guys on the team that have gotten close,” Alvis said. “When you can’t hang out with anybody but that small group, you’re kind of forced to get over any differences and bond.”

Hickman will plays its final game of the regular season at 7 p.m. Friday against Jackson in what will be the final home game for many Kewpies..

  • I am a sports reporter for the fall semester 2020 and I am currently studying sports journalism print and digital. You can reach me at shannonbelt@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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