A pair of Central Missouri Activities Conference teams eager to earn their first win of the 2020 season will clash Friday night at Adkins Stadium.
Capital City is looking for its first victory as a varsity program, while Hickman is hoping to shake off a tough start to its 2020 campaign. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
The Cavaliers (0-2, 0-1 CMAC) have been outscored 100-19 by their two opponents thus far, starting the season with a 48-7 home loss to Warrensburg and falling 52-12 at Battle last week.
"We're in a unique situation where some of our top guys on varsity are working against some younger athletes," Capital City coach Shannon Jolley said. "That means we're not quite getting the same looks we get on Friday nights. Each Friday is a realistic look, and the film is so valuable for us to look at right away. It'll be a yearlong effort to try and improve."
The Kewpies (0-2, 0-1 CMAC) have lost twice at home — first to Francis Howell (63-21) and last week to Helias (68-18).
"I felt like we had a lot of success in between some of the whistles last Friday, but it wasn't necessarily indicative of the final score," Jolley said. "Hickman is the same way; they've had more success than people give them credit for, and they've played two good teams."
Jolley faced off against Hickman in 2018, when he was an assistant at Jefferson City. The Kewpies return nine offensive starters from last year's squad, which finished 4-6 and bowed out in the first round of Class 6 district play.
Hickman coach Cedric Alvis — who was a part of the 2004 Class 6 state championship team — is in his third year at his alma mater.
The Kewpies lost running back Felix Pippenger (Missouri Baptist recruit) and defensive backs Jevean Brown and Talin Kemp (both at Central Missouri) to graduation, but they have 21 seniors on this year's roster.
"Each year, they replace good athletes," Jolley said. "They're quality kids with good size and speed. The leadership over there has done a good job of getting those kids committed to what they want to do."
Hickman rushed for just 3 yards last week, good news for a Capital City defense that has allowed 13.3 yards per carry (44 rushes for 587 yards) this season.
The Cavaliers' focus will be containing the Kewpies' trio of dynamic cousins — senior wide receiver Devin Turner, junior dual-threat quarterback T.J. Turner and junior wideout L.J. Williams.
T.J. Turner took over the starting job under center after starting at wide receiver last year. Opposing quarterbacks Eli Nappe (Warrensburg) and Khaleel Dampier (Battle) have combined to complete 12-of-18 passes for 242 yards, three touchdowns and one interception against the Cavaliers this season.
Capital City junior Kaden Dassrath has completed 4-of-12 passes for 65 yards and two interceptions thus far, but might have found a main target last week in Jabari Hubbard.
The wide receiver/defensive back recovered a fumble midway through the first quarter against Battle, which led to the Cavaliers' first scoring opportunity. He had two catches for 53 yards, the first a 7-yard reception on fourth-and-8 deep in the red zone early in the second quarter, and the other a 46-yard catch and run that led to Capital City's first touchdown of the game midway through the third quarter.
"I think we have to execute more, work a little bit harder and have a little more hope," Hubbard said. "We need to have courage to play our game."
The Cavaliers have spread the wealth and averaged 4.25 yards per carry (104 rushes for 442 yards) this season. Junior Ian Nelson leads the team in carries (29) and yards (147) after a 21-carry, 112-yard performance last week. Sophomore Hurley Jacobs (26 carries for 98 yards) and junior Ethan Wood (22 carries for 96 yards) have also emerged in Jolley's wing-T offense.
Capital City's offense depends on time of possession and ball security, which makes turnovers all the more costly. The Cavaliers lost two of three fumbles last week.
"We're physically at a disadvantage in most of our games, and to add mental errors on top just compounds the issue," Jolley said. "I was excited we fixed some of the execution errors last week and showed our ability to run the ball, but I was disappointed in some of our decision-making and ball control — specifically with fumbles and mishandled snaps."
The Cavaliers have also shown improvement on special teams.
Warrensburg nearly returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown in Week 1, then forced and recovered a fumble on the next kickoff. Last week, Capital City contained Battle's Gerry Marteen — who had three kickoff returns for touchdowns in Week 1 win against Fort Zumwalt North.
Wood avoided disaster when the first long-snap of last week's contest sailed over his head, as he recovered and booted the ball rugby-style to salvage the play.
"We make special teams an emphasis in the program," Jolley said. "A lot of coaches talk about it, but committing the time to practice them is key for us. If we give it quality reps, we can create plays and give ourselves good field position."