Illinois High School Football News

Princeton’s CJ Hickey anxious to get back in the game

Princeton CJ Hickey rushed for 114 yards in last year's season opener, but injured his knee and missed most of the rest of the season. He is ready to make up for lost time his senior season.

C.J. Hickey had a memorable 2021 season opener for Princeton, rushing for 114 yards on 15 carries (7.6 ypc) to help propel the Tigers to a 48-7 victory over Rockridge.

He took a helmet to the knee near the end of the first half, but finished out the game. It was later diagnosed that he tore 90% of his PCL and 50% of his MCL, knocking him out for the season except for a few plays late.

“Thankfully, I didn’t tear my ACL or I would have had to have surgery,” he said. “I just didn’t feel right. Felt like I had a cramp in my knee. Then I woke up the next day and couldn’t walk. Took time to recover. Kind of sucked I missed last season, but I’m ready to go this season.”

Hickey, now a senior, tried to come back for one game late in the season, but he was just not his old self.

“I was hesitant. My knee wasn’t completely healed yet. It was just a mental block I had,” he said. “I came in for a couple plays, but I was hesitant on my runs. I didn’t run to my potential. I know I didn’t. My coaches knew I didn’t. They kept me out for the rest of the season to get healed for this season.”

Tiger coach Ryan Pearson said they had to do what was best for Hickey, even though he may have wanted to play.

“We didn’t want to see him get hurt,” Pearson said. “We’re not out here to injure kids. We just said, ‘You know what bud, let’s just make sure you’re healed up and ready to go for next year.’

“He’s chomping at the bit to get back in there. He’s wanting to have a great senior season. He’s had a fanatic summer. We’re expecting big things from C.J.”

Hickey said it was especially tough standing on the sidelines watching the Tigers make their run to the Class 3A quarterfinals, bowing out to Elmhurst Immaculate Conception, 31-7.

It was hard just sitting on the sidelines. I was just proud of my team. I was there every game, trying to show my support in every way I could. Just standing there screaming, trying to help. Help however I could.”

—  CJ Hickey

“It obviously sucked because I just know I wanted to be a part of that,” he said. “And it was hard just sitting on the sidelines. I was just proud of my team. I was there every game, trying to show my support in every way I could. Just standing there screaming, trying to help. Help however I could.

“(Logan) Glancy’s helmet broke in the IC game. I gave him mine. Try to do what I can.”

Fully recovered, with a successful season of track behind him, Hickey is anxious to make up for lost time on the football field.

“It feels great. I did track to try to help it recover a little bit. Didn’t seem to have any trouble there,” he said. “(I’m) just ready to play … 17 days (until the season opener).

“Do my hardest, play my hardest and see what I can do.”

Princeton CJ Hickey rushed for 114 yards in last year's season opener, but injured his knee and missed most of the rest of the season. He is ready to make up for lost time his senior season.

Hickey is excited to get back in the Tiger backfield along with quarterback Teegan Davis and running back Augie Christiansen, his classmates.

“There’s no quarterback in the conference I’d rather have than Teegan on my side. Augie’s my other back. I have more faith in those guys than probably 90 percent of the people I’ve ever met. It’s just great to be playing with them,” Hickey said.

Hickey anticipates another big season for the Tigers and would like to take another shot at Immaculate Conception in the playoffs.

“We’re looking to go all the way this year. I think we have what it takes to beat them this year,” he said.