SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Kickapoo football has a newfound positivity this season.
“We have a different team this year,” Kickapoo Junior Reed Jensen said. “I think we’re coming out with a lot more hustle and playing really well.”
“Last year we had like every time we lost, it was just down in the dumps,” Kickapoo Senior Quarterback Adam Miller added. “This year as soon as we win, we have that high energy.”
The Chiefs week one win over defending Conference Champion Camdenton was a major step in journey going on four years now.
“We came from the program last year where we tried and some people weren’t giving the right attitude,” Miller said.
Back in 2017, Head Coach Nate Thomas took over a Kickapoo program fresh off a 9-2 season but facing major changes.
Over the next three years, the Chiefs went a combined 8-22 with improvement coming at a slow pace.
But Thomas’s message to his players stayed consistent.
“We’ve asked them for three years now to just buy into this thing and just keep plugging away and pounding the rock,” Thomas said. “Eventually it would come.”
In week one this year, that message became reality as Kickapoo beat Camdenton for the first time since that 9-2 season four years ago and did it in commanding fashion, 28-7.
“It felt amazing,” Miller said. “After the game we had an amazing celebration. It was everything we wanted.”
While the whole team deserves credit, it’s hard not to focus on the senior class that has grinded four years to get back on the winning stage.
“I’m just so happy for those seniors, the ones that have stuck it out,” Thomas said. “We’ve really only lost about four or five guys from that freshmen class. For them to make it all the way through and come out and perform like that in a week one, it was awesome to see.”
The time for celebrating doesn’t last long, however, as yet another tough opponent in Lebanon awaits them Friday.
For the Chiefs, however, that’s just cause for more excitement.
“We’re not going to sneak up on anybody anymore,” Thomas. “We’re going to get the best out of everybody. We’re going to have to bring it. That’s what football is all about. You’ve got to bring it every week. You’ve got to be prepared in this conference. If not, you’ve got a chance to go out there and take an ‘L.'”