Kickapoo quarterback Chris Lawson left St. Louis disappointed on a November night.
He didn’t let a loss keep him down.
Coming off a loss to CBC in the 2015 Class 6 playoff semifinals and a 12-1 season, Lawson and the Chiefs looked at the 2016 season opener at Parkview as a chance to make a statement win. They did, by beating Parkview 55-26 at JFK Stadium Friday night in a clash of Springfield schools.
Lawson finished the game 20-of-27 passing for 248 yards and three touchdowns. He also scored a rushing touchdown and gained 39 yards on four attempts.
“It’s always nice to come out Week 1 to get a victory,” Lawson said. “We got the run game going early, and in doing that we were able to throw the ball around, and this year we hope to throw a lot more than we did last year, so getting the run game established really helped.”
Kickapoo coach Kurt Thompson referred to Lawson as “a silent leader.”
“Chris is very cerebral. He knows exactly what we want out of him. Chris doesn’t hardly say a word in practice, but he knows what we want to do,” Thompson said.
Lawson passed for 1,578 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior in 2015, and also rushed for five touchdowns and 548 yards.
Kickapoo also got big offensive boosts from senior running back Maverick McGee and wide receiver Corey Dye. McGee rushed 18 times for 163 yards and three touchdowns.
Thompson said the Chiefs planned to set the tone early with the run to open up some passing through the middle part of the game.
“We can throw the ball, that’s something that we know we can do. Offensively, we just kind of clicked tonight for a first game,” Thompson said.
Parkview trailed 28-0 before quarterback Mario Sanchez threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to state champion high jumper Marcus Walton in the second quarter. Parkview got a turnover on a forced fumble and recovery by Blake Delacruz, then Sanchez threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Gage Clark.
Dye answered by 15 seconds later with a 63-yard touchdown reception from Lawson to close the first half. The play was a turning point for coach Anthony Hays’ Vikings.
“To let up that big play right before half was a punch in the gut. We thought we were going to go into half with momentum. In this game, Week 1, momentum shifts are a big deal,” Hays said.
Hays acknowledged Kickapoo’s ability to sustain drives and score plenty of points.
“Kickapoo is a great opponent, they are one of the top Class 6 schools in the state and they deserve that ranking,” Hays said. “I’m really proud of the way our kids didn’t quit. A good example —we’re losing by four touchdowns and Marcus Walton goes in and blocks an extra point. He could have taken that play off, most kids do on an extra point, but he gave everything he had.”
Parkview running back Aerion Hawkins paced Parkview with 78 rushing yards on 12 carries.
In its bid to defend the Ozark Conference championship, Kickapoo passes the first test with eight more to go. That’s where Lawson said the team’s focus shifted upon exiting the playoffs with the loss to CBC.
“It was tough, but CBC is not a team to be messed with. They’re a great team,” Lawson said. “We practiced hard that’s for sure. Coach has been running a lot to make sure we’re in great shape.”
Kickapoo has more than 30 seniors on its roster this season, which offered plenty of motivation through the offseason.
“Being the last year together, I think that in and of itself has really lit the fire in us,” Lawson said.
Parkview has a second consecutive home game Friday, Aug. 26, at JFK Stadium. Kickapoo plays its home opener against Rolla the same night. Both games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.
Kickapoo 55, Parkview 26
At JFK Stadium, Springfield
Kickapoo—Maverick McGee 9-yard run (kick failed)
Kickapoo—McGee 12-yard run (Devin Kruse pass from Chris Lawson)
Kickapoo—Lawson 16-yard run (Joshua Scheiderer kick)
Kickapoo—Robbie Merced 11-yard pass from Lawson (kick failed)
Parkview—Marcus Walton 50-yard pass from Mario Sanchez (Alex Joy kick)
Parkview—Gage Clark 25-yard pass from Sanchez (Joy Kick)
Kickapoo—Corey Dye 63-yard pass from Lawson (Scheiderer kick)
Kickapoo—Maverick McGee 21-yard run (Travis Vokolek pass from Lawson)
Kickapoo—Devin Kruse 15-yard run (Scheiderer kick)
Parview—Blake Delacruz 25-yard run (kick failed)
Kickapoo—Dalton Coates 5-yard run (run failed)
Parkview—Trevor Boice 40-yard run (no attempt)