SPRINGFIELD, Mo–The Missouri State high school football season has marched into November and the playoffs will continue Friday night with District semifinals.
In Class 6, District 5, the Kickapoo Chiefs are hosting Joplin, both of these teams had a bye last week to rest up.
Joining us live from Pottenger Stadium is our own birthday boy Chris Pinson.
And Chris they’re holding a football game party for you.
Hey Dan, it’s been five years since Joplin and Kickapoo squared off on the gridiron, and it happened to be during this time of the year. This time around though, the chiefs have a motto that’s as battle tested they are.
“You should have to play well to win in November,” said Kickapoo coach Nate Thomas.
There’s nothing quite like postseason football.
Especially when you’re hosting a playoff game.
“We’ve talked about how special this is. To have this opportunity to play in front of our home crowd against a really good football team, so we’re really excited about it,” said Thomas.
The challenge for most teams isn’t just the competition, it’s also managing emotions leading up to the big game.
“We try to keep the schedule the same for these guys. They’re creatures of comfort for sure and the coaches are the same way. So, we tell our guys we don’t prep any different for any opponent that we have. It’s about us, and how we prepare, and how we do things week to week,” said Thomas.
For nearly two weeks, coach Thomas and the Kickapoo Chiefs have been preparing for Joplin in the Class 6 district semifinal. Thanks to earning a first round bye after finishing 8-1 in the regular season.
“We enjoyed it, we really did. It was one of the funnest weeks I’ve had ever coaching just because it took the pressure off of having to focus on the game that Friday. Gave them a chance to kinda get healed up.”
Before their well deserved bye, Kickapoo rattled off six straight wins.
Scoring 40 points or more in five of them.
Senior quarterback Chase Hamme chalks their success up to the team’s bond.
“We know each other better than we know ourselves and that definitely helps us every single play. Being really close with your guys helps you win games,” said Hamme.
Others might say it’s the team’s mantra of hashtag e-3
“We’re gonna execute with unmatched effort and enthusiasm. Those are three things that we can turn the film on and take absolutely no skill whatsoever, no athletic ability and our guys have done,” said Thomas.
Regardless of who or what deserves the credit, coach Thomas only cares about moving on to the district championship.
“At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if we win 2-0 or 49-48, I don’t care. These guys don’t care. At this point it’s just win and move on. I don’t think I’m gonna have to say a whole lot, these guys are a group of guys who do a good job of self motivating,” said Thomas.