Liberty at Hickman FNF Week Eight 2014
|8 / 22||Christian Brothers College||Away||Loss||14 - 63|
|8 / 29||Lee Summit||Home||Loss||17 - 41|
|9 / 5||Jefferson City||Away||Loss||7 - 25|
|9 / 12||Helias||Home||Loss||7 - 48|
|9 / 19||Rock Bridge||Away||Loss||23 - 42|
|9 / 26||Battle||Home||Loss||7 - 14|
|10 / 3||Rockhurst||Away||Loss||6 - 42|
|10 / 10||Liberty||Home||Win||34 - 30|
|10 / 18||Hazelwood Central||Away||Loss||0 - 31|
|10 / 24||Jefferson City||Away||Loss||0 - 39|
On November 1st of 2013 the 6th ranked Hickman Kewpies suffered a devastating 24-17 District loss to Howell Central, knocking them out of the playoffs -- sending them home in the first round. Brandishing an overall 9-2 record, Hickman had much higher expectations for their season and the month of November. There is no doubt that the Class 6 schedule is a grueling and demanding feat for any team, but Coach Arnel Monroe stresses the disappointment of that first round knock-out and hopes it might be a learning tool for this upcoming season. Beyond that seasonending loss, the Hickman Kewpies were also leveled earlier that year by the opening of a new high school in Columbia which virtually depleted their stout football team, leaving them with a few key players and a bench full of inexperience. Coach Monroe hopes to utilize those young players this season and rebuild a power-house team. The objective for 2014 is to lean on those younger players who garnered some good experience in 2013 and "turn that experience to good use," says Monroe, and adds: "the schedule itself will be pretty tough but by coming together as a team and working hard for each other we believe we can be successful." That success, however, lies heavily on the shoulders of their RB's and the ability of their defense to play as stingy as possible this season.
As always the Kewpies offense will utilize their running game as a key component to gain yards. Last year, their younger running backs saw some significant action as veteran players suffered a handful of injuries. Running out of a Multiple-set offense, the Kewpies averaged 164 yards per game last year -- and 18.5 points. If Hickman wants to build upon those numbers in 2014, they will need to do so by diversifying their approach, something they are working on during camp. Regardless, much of that weight will fall on the shoulders of junior running back Elijah Crum (5- 11, 215) and senior back Cameron Wright (5-11, 190) who averaged 5.2 yards per carry and 11.8 per pass last season. Averaging 117 passing yards last year, wide-receivers' Sam Smith (5-10, 180) and Isaiah Schauer (5-11, 185) look to bolster their performances with more downfield strikes this year. The O-Line will be anchored by junior Brandon Jones (6-4, 250) and senior Tanner Stetzel (5-11, 195). Also look for the athleticism of Carter Nicoli (6-0, 200) to fill the gaps as needed in 2014. Some up and coming talent includes: wide receiver Eddie Barrett (5-9, 170), running back Chris Leach (5-9, 170), and junior wide out Andrew Pieper whose speed led him to a 4th place finish in last year's State 300 hurdles event. Youngster Thomas Dutton (6-6, 215) will fulfill the tight end position with his extraordinary size and athleticism.
Defensively, the Hickman Kewpies will look to be more stout against the run and focus primarily on minimizing the big plays that allow for big gain yardage. Running a 4-2-5 formation, the Kewpies will rely on their D-Line returner Macaulay Keevins (6-3, 215) to be a leader to newcomers: junior Nick Orazio (6-5, 265), senior Cody Herschbach (6-1, 245), senior Connor Parsons (6-0, 245), and junior Luke Troyer (6-3, 200). Junior Adam Knowles (5-11, 195) will return at linebacker and the Kewpies secondary will include: Isaiah Schauer and Kyle Leftwich (6-1, 195). An integral part to this defense and protecting the backfield from the big plays will be FS/SS Carter Nicoli.
As always, look for the Hickman Kewpies to rely on their running game this year -- but don't be fooled by the same old routine, as Coach Monroe looks to diversify his offense this year and keep opponents guessing. Regardless, the 2014 Kewpies will prove to be a tough squad as they develop their younger players into rough-and-tough Class 6 standouts. But for this to be a successful year they will need to fulfill their obligation by diminishing their opponents' big plays and a production worthy defense, capable of keeping them in some of the closer ball games. Beyond a solid defensive unit, they will need to create opportunities on the ground with their running game as they create and execute a myriad of new plays. The opportunity lies with the players however -- and hopefully the veteran players are willing to take charge, along with their fellow newcomers when times get tough, and carry this team to a much needed post-season success. Once again the schedule is brutal, so the Kewpies must gel quickly because there certainly are no off-weeks.
Pigskin's Pick: 4-5