Mobile quarterback: Former Fredericton High School Black Kats’ quarterback Andrew Hickey brings his mobility to the Capital Area Gladiators of the Maritime  Football League. Hickey, who will be vying for a starting role at the University of Waterloo, Ont. in the Ontario Universities’ Conference in the fall, scored a touchdown and passed for another as the Gladiators lost their season opener to defending league champion Riverview Mustangs last weekend. They host Moncton Marshals in their home opener Friday night at Chapman Field with game time being 8 o’clock.
Hickey hones his game
Gladiators | Ex-Kats' star to direct offence for Capital Area team in Maritime league

By Bill Hunt

Andrew Hickey will celebrate his 20th birthday Sunday.

He hopes he's celebrating a victory for the Capital Area Gladiators, too.

Hickey and his Gladiator teammates host the Moncton Marshals in their Maritime Football League home opener Friday night at 8 p.m. at their new home, Chapman Field, anxious to get back on even terms after a season-opening 28-14 loss to the Riverview Mustangs last week.

"It was our first game...the defence played pretty well most of the game," said Hickey, who, of course, was in charge of the offence as the team's quarterback and went 15-for-28 for 235 yards.

He passed for one touchdown, a 70-yard pass and run to Andrew Hubbard, and dashed 10 yards on his own for another - a pretty fair representation of what the six-foot, 195 pounder brings to the position, actually, if you remember his time with the Fredericton High School Black Kats.

He'll bring it to the Waterloo Warriors next year as one of four candidates for the starting job with the Ontario Universities Association entry. Hickey switched from Mount Allison University and a Sciences program to kinesiology at Waterloo.

He sat out the required year to regain his eligibility and figures to be in the mix for the starting job under head coach Dennis McPhee, the former head coach at St. Francis Xavier, and offensive co-ordinator Joe Paopao, the former CFL quarterback and head coach of the now defunct Ottawa Renegades.

"They recruited me pretty hard out of high school," recalled Hickey. "I almost went there, but I didn't for whatever reason. But Dennis coached my brother at X and I knew he was a great coach. Joe Paopao had a huge CFL career...he knows everything. He's such a smart football guy. He's probably the best coach I've ever played for."

Well, he hasn't played for him yet, but you get the idea.

For now, at least Hickey is still a weekend Warrior.

"I practiced with the team all last year and ran the scout offence, but it's just not the same," he said. "But come weekends, I wasn't able to play. But at the same time, I learned the offence and I was able to get a head start for next year."

The Gladiators help in that process as well.

For Hickey and his mates, it's more than just recreational ball.

"Everyone's really competitive," he said. "They want to win. For some guys, it's the only football they ever play, so they take it seriously. Other guys, maybe not so much. But guys want to win, they want to play hard, they want to compete."

The depth isn't there on the summer rosters, the game isn't as fast, "but there are a lot of really good players out there," he said. Case in point: Steve Cormier, who shredded the Gladiators for 237 yards and three touchdowns in the opener last week.

But, see above: it's still early.

Hickey looks at the summer schedule as valuable prep time in his bid for the starting job at Waterloo this fall.

"I'm able to work on my timing and getting the ball out quick and stuff I wouldn't be able to do on my own," he said. "Two of the guys are still at school and have receivers to throw with. I think it's going to be a battle...the starter from last year is back and there are actually four guys who could be the starter, come day one. I'm not the starter right now, but that's the goal. That's where I want to be."

He comes from pretty good football stock, of course. Sean Hickey took the Mounties to the Vanier Cup final and was named the outstanding offensive player in the 1991 game. Brother David Hickey starred as a running back at X.

Andrew hopes to help the rebuilding Warriors improve on their 2-6 record of a year ago. There's a young nucleus in place, including CIS rookie of the year Jordan Verdone of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., and only one player graduates. Hickey is in his second season of eligibility.

He expects understudy Brendan Cornford, the former Leo Hayes High Lions QB, to share the job Friday night.

"I'm OK, but we'll probably mix it up a little bit," said Hickey. Cornford brings a different look to the huddle. Whereas Hickey is a scrambler, Cornford is more a drop back passer type. It's a different look.

"I probably run quite a bit more than he does," said Hickey. "I run quite a bit more than most quarterbacks."