Cedric Alvis always wanted to pay the gift of coaching football forward.
Hickman’s first-year head coach was given that luxury less than a year out of college by Jeff Edwards, who was the co-owner and head coach of the semi-professional Columbia Falcons at the time.
Without knowing much about Alvis before their first meeting in the summer of 2010, Edwards hired Alvis as the Falcons’ offensive coordinator.
Eight years later, Alvis has brought Edwards onto the Kewpies’ staff as a volunteer assistant.
Edwards, who coached parts of Tolton’s defense for four seasons before coming to Hickman, had an interest in coaching with Alvis should he take over a program.
They made it happen in February, about a week after Alvis was announced as the Kewpies’ next coach.
Making the transition from Tolton to Hickman along with Edwards was now-Kewpies starting junior quarterback Jevean Brown.
Edwards is Brown’s stepfather after marrying his mother, Candace, this past June. Edwards said he’d been in Brown’s life for much longer however.
Brown made the transfer from Tolton to Hickman after Edwards said his family could no longer afford it.
Brown was able to fit in as a Kewpie from the very beginning of summer camp as he knew some of his teammates from West Middle School.
He also knew a lot of the coaches, as they played for the Falcons as well or had met Edwards through other football connections.
Alvis added that Edwards could be considered the catalyst for his staff knowing each other. Now together, they’re hoping to change the culture of Kewpie football.
“Jeff’s played at a high level, he played college football at (Southeast Missouri),” Alvis said. “He knows football, he’s been around it a lot.”
Edwards also spent time playing arena and semi-professional football. Maybe his most notable stop was being with the Iowa Barnstormers when Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner started with the team.
He first met his future family about a decade ago when Candace and Brown moved onto the same street that he lived on.
After becoming friends with the family, Edwards starting dating Candace and did so for several years before the wedding.
“Bringing Jevean into my family wasn’t a big deal because I was already a single parent of kids and raising them,” Edwards said.
He added that Candace has always been there for his children as well.
And while Brown and his father talk about football frequently as well, having Edwards on the Kewpies staff has given his stepdad a front-row seat.
Being a father and a coach, you have to divide,” Edwards said. “You have to take that dad out of it when you're on the football field.”
While coaching at Tolton, Edwards’ own son, Patrick, was an all-district linebacker. As a sophomore, Brown was an all-district wide receiver.
He made the switch to quarterback during this summer after a few conversations with Alvis about what would be best for the team.
After originally hesitant about the idea, Brown’s interest was piqued and he took equal reps his summer from behind center.
When the first depth chart was made after the first week of August practice, Brown was penciled in as the team’s starting quarterback.
“Jeff has done a great job of explaining to him the why’s and if you have a kid that wants to know deeper, that's how you are able to get success because now I can explain my thought process so next time we’re in that situation, he knows where coach is coming from, what coach is thinking -- he can make a better read, a better decision,” Alvis said. “Jeff has really helped him to where he’s almost like a player-coach, because he’s had that constant coaching.”
Those coaching moments may have made Brown’s transition from catching passes to throwing them a little easier.
“I just know how receivers feel and I told them they can come talk to me,” Brown said.
That communication has given the Kewpie’s offense a chance to be more dynamic in a season that could be promising.
After winning a sole game during the past two seasons, Hickman opened up 2018 with a road win against Pattonville, who was the Class 5 state runner-up last year.
Since then, losses to Helias and Jefferson City have humbled Hickman’s team. Tonight’s home game against district foe Smith-Cotton could be considered an early must-win game.
Brown will be depended upon for a solid performance as well as other Kewpie leaders such as Christian Davis, Riley Keevins and Charlie Monroe.
Coaching them will be Alvis. He’ll be helped by Edwards and others like Carlos Hall, Marvin Williams and Lionel Smith, who Edwards has known for several years as well.
Although Hickman’s attempt at a resurgence might seem like it started in 2018, without Alvis’ ambition to pay it forward to Edwards and the connections they both have made on and off the field, the Kewpies may not see a bright light at the end of the tunnel.
“He’s helped me a lot,” Brown said about Edwards. “He always holds me accountable for what I need to do ... he always tells me what I should fix and what I shouldn't.”
“I’m a Kewpie now,” Edwards added.