Different places, same rivalry


The RBHS-HHS lineup is tense as the cross-town rivals face-off in Faurot Field at the annual Providence Bowl. Photo by Asa Lory

Pen Terry

When Rock Bridge and Hickman renew their rivalry series tomorrow evening, the game commonly referred to as the Providence Bowl will have a slightly different atmosphere. Created in 2003 to feature the two Columbia high schools on opposite ends of the city’s main thoroughfare in a central location, this year the match up heads north, to Hickmans’s LeMone field, for the second consecutive meeting.
“It’s a little disappointing for those kids to miss out on those opportunities” RBHS athletic director David Egan said. “On the other hand, though, I completely understand why it needed to be moved, with Mizzou hosting a game the next day on Saturday and the construction that’s going on on Faurot field.”
RBHS head coach AJ Ofodile also thinks it’s disappointing, especially for the seniors.
“It’s unfortunate that this group of seniors will miss out on that opportunity,” Ofodile said. “I’d rather it be at Mizzou, I think that it’s a great experience for the kids. They can always play at a high school stadium but getting the opportunity to play at a bigger venue [is exciting].”
Regardless of the setting, the Bruins are sure it is going to be a competitive contest. Since Nov. 2, 2012, the day the Kewpies defeated the Bruins 10-7 in overtime, bouncing RBHS from the state playoffs, fans and players alike have been looking forward to this game. The past three meetings between the two schools have been decided by a touchdown or less and the last two games by a combined 4 points.
“It’s always going to be a close game with these guys no matter what their record is,” senior captain Ross Alexander said. “We can’t underestimate them which is what I think happened last year.”
The fans, athletes and coaches are not the only ones excited for the game, as the administration here is also highly anticipating the match up.
“I just expect it to be a good football game,” Egan said. “As someone who loves football and is a big football fan, I’m excited to see our student athletes out there competing at a high level, demonstrating their talents and representing your school in a manner that makes us proud and in a manner that makes for an entertaining and enjoyable night.”
The Bruins will enter their game Friday night at 3-1, and ranked 5th in Missouri Class 6A. The Bruins raced to a 3-0 start to the season beating Desmet, Fort Zumwalt West and Springdale Har-Ber scoring 41, 48 and 55 in each of the three wins, respectively.
However, the Bruins seemed to stumble in their most recent outing, putting up only 21 points and zero second half points in a 31-21 loss to unranked Raymore-Peculiar High School.
The Kewpies come into the Providence Bowl at 2-2. After dropping their season opener 16-27 to a Lee’s Summit North team that had only one win last year, HHS bounced back to defeat Wentzville Holt, 30-15. The Kewpies came back from a week three loss against Fort Zumwalt East to come back and defeat Helias Catholic in Jefferson City, 27-17.
With the exception of the second half of their loss to Ray-Pec, the Bruins offense has looked at worst above average and at best absolutely unstoppable. The offense will be led by receivers, senior Zach Reuter and junior Alex Ofodile, senior running back Eli Caldwell-Stout and junior quarterback Logan Twehous. Twehous has thrown for 1267 yards and 16 touchdowns as well as running in two scores through the first four games. 12 of those touchdowns were caught by either Reuter or Ofodile. Caldwell-Stout has added 368 yards and two touchdowns as well.
The Kewpies will be led by returning starting quarterback Mason Murray and senior receivers Roderick Beasley and Grant Jones. While Murray has thrown for 583 yards and only seven touchdowns this season. The Bruins certainly haven’t forgotten the plays he made against them last year, including several key first down scrambles to lead the game tying drive late in last years playoff game.
Revenge is certainly on the minds of several RBHS fans and players who remember the two heartbreaking losses at the hands of the Kewps last year. Ofodile, on the other hand, does not think revenge is the motivation his team needs to win.
“That’s one of those things that can be distracting,” Ofodile said. “That kind of motivation would last maybe the first two plays.”
Ofodile believes the key to success will be returning to the principles that made their team so successful in the earlier games this year.
“We just have to be the team we were in the first three weeks and be relatively mistake free on offense, be physical and be an effort team on defense,” Coach Ofodile said. “It’s cliché, but we really need to be in a position where we are not beating ourselves and we are playing the kind of football we are capable of playing.”
The man who has been at the helm of Bruin football for the past 13 years seems confident that a few key factors will determine the outcome of game.
“At the end of the day,” Ofodile said, “whoever executes the best, whoever understands their game plan the best, whoever proves to be the most physical throughout the course of the game is going to end up winning.”
By Pen Terry