COLUMBIA, Mo. — Jake Weaver could feel it.
"We had a very good pre-game, we were ready to go," the Helias senior quarterback said after Friday night's 68-18 Central Missouri Activities Conference victory against Hickman Kewpies.
Weaver played a big role in the victory, having a hand in seven Helias touchdowns.
"The boys knew what we were trying to accomplish and they carried that out," Helias coach Chris Hentges said.
Helias scored four touchdowns while Hickman ran five total offensive plays in the first 7:01 of the game.
After an interception by Helias defensive lineman Dylan Kopp on the second play of the game, the Crusaders needed four plays to find the end zone. The score came on a 19-yard pass from Weaver to Cole Stumpe. The PAT was blocked and Helias led 6-0.
Isaac Lopez recovered a fumble for Helias on the ensuing kickoff. Five plays later, Weaver connected with Alex Clement on a screen pass and the first of six extra points by Lopez made it 13-0.
The Crusaders recovered on onside kick to keep the ball and Weaver soon found a wide-open Ethan Holzhauser down the hash marks for 45-yard touchdown.
After forcing a Hickman punt on the next series, Helias took over at its own 44.
The play call was a bubble screen, but the Kewpies were covering the Crusader receiver. So Weaver went with the second option — run with it.
"I read it where the outside linebacker went with the receiver, so I took it," he said.
Weaver evaded one final tackle attempt at the Hickman 1 to score to give Helias a 27-0 lead at the 4:59 mark of the opening quarter.
"He almost got me, but I ended up getting in," Weaver said.
Hentges credited Weaver for making the correct read.
"If the defense is overplaying something, you have to take advantage of that," Hentges said.
In the second quarter, Weaver ran it in from 17 yards, then another from a yard out as the Crusaders took a 41-12 advantage into halftime.
Weaver finished with a team-high 84 yards on eight carries.
Hickman's first-half scores came on an 85-yard touchdown pass and after Helias lost a fumble inside the Kewpie 5.
"You take away that long pass play, our defense played great," Hentges said.
That touchdown pass accounted for more than half of Hickman's total offense Friday night.
Weaver wrapped up his night early in the third quarter, leading a three-play drive measuring 61 yards. The touchdown came on a 44-yard catch and run from Weaver to Clement to extend Helias' lead to 48-12 and start the running clock.
Weaver finished 13-of-20 passing for 226 yards.
"The coaches put together a very good game plan this week," he said. "Our offense just clicked all night long."
Zach Wolken led Helias' final three scoring drives, all in the fourth quarter. The senior threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Kaden Hampson and a 9-yard score to Carson Brauner before Brauner capped the scoring with a 6-yard run. Philip Knox booted two extra points in the fourth quarter as the Crusaders closed out their seventh straight win in the series with the Kewpies.
The Kewpies had just three rushing yards and the Crusaders have given up 23 yards on the ground in two games this season.
The 68 points are the most for Helias since an 83-12 victory against Wentzville: Liberty in the first round of districts in 2014.
"We played good in all three phases tonight," Hentges said.
It was the CMAC opener for both teams and Weaver said the Crusaders felt like they had something to prove.
"It's important to show everybody in this conference who we are and what kind of football team we can be this season," he said.
Hentges was happy to get the first CMAC victory in Helias' first try.
"It's always good to get the conference schedule off to a good start, but we know there are tough teams on the horizon," he said.
That starts this Friday night when Helias (2-0) will host Battle (2-0), which started conference play with a 52-12 victory at home against Capital City.
With COVID-19 restrictions, Helias and Hickman each had about 50 fans in what was a more subdued atmosphere than what you see in most high school football games.
"I usually don't look up into the crowd very much, but it was a little strange not hearing the fans," Weaver said.
Hentges didn't think it had an effect on the Crusaders.
"We just settled down and played football," he said. "As a team, I don't think we get distracted much. It's nice to play in front of a crowd that's supporting you, but what we did on the field was the key tonight."