FNF: History looms large for Hickman/Jefferson City matchup
JEFFERSON CITY - For 115 years the Hickman Kewpies and Jefferson City Jays have been locked in one of Missouri's most historic rivalries.
The Kewpies and Jays have actually played 112 games, with Jefferson City recently taking the school's first lead in the series in 2014. The Jays currently lead the series 55-53-4.
The Hickman/Jefferson City Rivalry is often called the second oldest high school football rivalry west of the Mississippi River, behind only St. Louis area schools Kirkwood and Webster Groves.
The historical significance is not lost on Jefferson City head Coach Ted LePage.
"The last couple nights of practice I've been pretty adamant about what this series is about," he said.
He said being a part of something that's been happening so long is one reason he appreciates being at Jefferson City.
"This is something bigger than several lifetimes," LePage said. "I'm proud to be a part of this tradition. There's been several thousand players and several coaches that have been part of this rivalry for our community and school, that's what makes it special."
With coaches screaming out "It's Kewpie week" at Jay practice on Wednesday, LePage noted the Hickman game always has a little more meaning than the others.
"There's been several instances over the last couple years where one team has nothing to play for and ends up beating the other team," LePage said. "There's a passion there just to play. You can feel it every time we play. Every time it's Hickman versus. Jeff. City there's an extra little vibe in the team and community. This is special."
Jefferson City players also realize the part this rivalry has played for the two schools and communities.
"I definitely think of the history," senior safety Isaac Morelend said. "It's our senior year and last time ever playing Hickman, so it's going to be a big game for us. It definitely brings its own feel to it. We're ahead two games I think, so obviously we want to get that third game."
Senior linebacker Gaven Strobel also knows Hickman/Jefferson City is appointment viewing.
"This is a game that people want to come watch," he said.
Quarterback Gunnar See and the rest of the Jefferson City seniors have a unique opportunity this year. They could go undefeated in their four seasons with the Jays.
"It's nice to have the advantage," See said. "This senior class hasn't lost to them, so it'd be nice to get this last one."
LePage knows Hickman players will have extra motivation to end the streak after the death of their head coach earlier this year.
"I think our players realize Hickman is going to come in here, especially this year with the passing of Arnel Monroe, this was his favorite game, and there's going to be a passion there and we need to be ready for the passion they're going to bring," LePage said.