SPRINGFIELD, Mo–For the last three weeks, high school football players have been working from early in the morning until late at night, getting ready for the 2019 season.
All that work will start paying off Friday night.
We’re starting our coverage at Pottenger Stadium at Kickapoo.
That’s where we find KOLR 10’s Matt Vereen, Matt.
Dan, high school football is finally back.
I’m live here at Kickapoo high school for our week one game of the week between the Chiefs and visiting Lebanon.
It’s a fresh start for teams across the Ozarks, but you’d be hard pressed to find a team more excited for a new beginning than Kickapoo.
Every school has expectations, but at Kickapoo – the bar of success is built into the history books.
So last year when Cross Elmquist took over the starting quarterback role, he knew he was inherting some lofty expectations and a team that wasn’t ready to meet them.
“When I stepped in last year, everybody wasn’t we weren’t really locked in. This year, kids are stepping up into more leadership roles. It’s a lot more fun because everybody has bought into it,” said Elmquist.
Last year’s failures are serving as motivation for this new group of Chiefs leaders, and that includes Elmquist entering his senior year.
“There’s a reason Cross has that ‘C’ stitched on his shoulder. He had the most votes of anybody that we have on our football team. I’m pretty biased. He’s one of my favorite kids I’ve ever coached. He’s done a tremendous job in all facets of our program being a great leader,” said Kickapoo coach Nate Thomas.
And with a year under his belt, Coach Thomas plans to loosen the leash on Elmquist to see what the now experienced QB can do.
Thomas: “You know, he’s put on about 10 pounds of muscle. We feel comfortable running him a little bit every once in a while. Obviously he’s not going to go out there and be Michael Vick by any means, but every once in a while he’s going to have the opportunity to run and get us the first down.”
But stepping up in the offseason is one thing.
Proving it come week one is the real challenge, and Kickapoo has the perfect opportunity facing a Lebanon side that dominated week one of last year.
Thomas: “I think Cross is just looking forward. He was wide eyed under the lights last year, and coming in against a really really good Lebanon team. I think he’s just, he’s been looking forward to this first game again.”
Elmquist: “Oh, yeah. I’m ready to go, man. It’s going to be fun. Game of the week, right? It’s going to be crazy. I just can’t wait.”
And Elmquist won’t have to wait long now.
Kickoff just 30 minutes away.
Rain in the forecast, but it was raining last Friday too.
And the Chiefs told me the crowd only got louder as the rain came, and that’s for a jamboree.
Now that we’ve got week one, I’m expect a loud atmosphere tonight.
We’ll have full highlights tonight at 10, but for now live from Kickapoo High School, Matt Vereen Ozarks First.