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story.lead_photo.caption Sam Hentges hugs Helias teammate Carson Brauner after Brauner intercepted a pass during Friday night's game against Hickman at Ray Hentges Stadium. Photo by Jason Strickland / News Tribune.

It was a sign of progress.

"It's a confidence-building win for a team that doesn't have a lot of varsity experience," Helias coach Chris Hentges said Friday night after the Crusaders defeated the Hickman Kewpies 41-6 in Central Missouri Activities Conference action at Ray Hentges said. "We're capable of playing good football, we showed that tonight."

The win came after a tough week of practice following a 34-point loss to Hannibal to open the season.

The Crusader defense was outstanding for much of the night. Helias allowed just two double-digit runs to Hickman in 28 carries, while the Crusaders picked off four Kewpie passes.

Most importantly, Helias forced Hickman to punt five times.

"We got off the field on third down," Hentges said.

Offensively, the Crusaders got off to a strong start. Employing a no-huddle offense, Helias needed just five plays to go 75 yards for a touchdown on the first series of the game.

"We have plays we can get in in a hurry, we can run in a hurry," Hentges said. "We executed those pretty well.

"It puts a defense back on its heels, When you get chunks of yards like we did, then come back right away with another play, it can frustrate a defense."

Ryan Klahr ran the ball on the first four plays of the series, totaling 58 yards. Will Herrbold then came in and finished the drive with a 17-yard run. Vinnie Calvaruso kicked the first of five extra points and Helias led 7-0 just 1:10 into the game.

After an exchange of punts, Hickman took over at its own 20. On first down, Kewpie quarterback Colbin Clark's pass was intercepted by Tyler Sandbothe and the Helias senior returned it 21 yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 Helias lead with 8:22 to go in the first quarter.

Hickman picked up its initial first down on its fourth series. But that drive came to a halt when Carson Brauner picked off Clark's pass and returned it 41 yards to the Hickman 6.

"We put pressure on the quarterback, made him uncomfortable," Hentges said. "We forced him to scramble and throw some balls up and we were able to grab a few of them."

On fourth-and-goal, Helias quarterback Drew Miller took it over from a yard out and it was 21-0 with 2:10 left in the first quarter.

The Crusaders put together a strong drive on its first possession of the second quarter, going 58 yards in 10 plays. A 25-yard pass from Miller to Klahr was a key play in the series, capped by a 3-yard run by Brauner.

Hickman got its lone score on the ensuing series, going 80 yards in six plays. Senior running back Deon Weston did most of the damage on the drive, carrying the ball on five of the plays. He got the score on a 34-yard run, making a cut back at the line of scrimmage on the play. The 2-point run failed and Helias took a 28-6 lead into half..

Brauner got his second interception of the night on the first drive of the second half, giving the ball to the Crusaders at the Hickman 29.

Seven plays later, Korbin Fisher scored on a 2-yard run to give Helias a 34-6 lead.

Cole Stumpe got Helias' last interception of the night on Hickman's next series.

Brady Rush's 30-yard touchdown run with 7:03 left in the fourth quarter made it 41-6 and brought the running clock into play for the rest of the contest.

"We needed this game," Hentges said. "We were upset and frustrated with the way we played last week, we were much better tonight.

"But this was not a flawless game. We still have a lot of room to improve, we're going to have a lot of things we are going to point out on the tape that we can get better at doing."

Six Crusaders had rushing attempts Friday night.

"We did a better job of rotations tonight," Hentges said. "We didn't give our players enough breaks in the first game. As coaches, we made sure to get guys some breaks because we have the depth that will allow us to do that to help keep everybody fresh."

Helias threw for 87 yards.

"The offense at times looked dominant, at times, we sputtered," Hentges said.

Weston finished the game with 135 yards on 19 carries for the Kewpies, with 69 of those coming on the second-quarter scoring drive. Five other Kewpies totaled a minus-15 yards on eight attempts.

Hickman (0-2 overall, 0-1 CMAC) will host Capital City (0-2) this Friday.

Helias (1-1, 1-0) will play its first road game of the season Friday when it goes to Columbia to face Battle (1-0), who did not play Friday.

Game time is 7 p.m.

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