Football Preview: Playoffs Edition

Junior+Alex+Ofodile+runs+the+ball+up+the+field%2C+soon+to+be+driven+out+of+bounds.

Junior Alex Ofodile runs the ball up the field, soon to be driven out of bounds.

Brett Stover

[heading]Rock Bridge vs Jefferson City: What you need to know[/heading]

UPDATE: Despite reports that he would start, RBHS QB Logan Twehous was out for the game with a concussion.

#6 Rock Bridge (4-5) vs. #3 Jefferson City (6-3)

7:00 p.m. Friday Nov. 1 at Adkins Stadium (Jeff City)

Rock Bridge Bruins line up for the snap.
The Rock Bridge Bruins and Jefferson City Jays line up for the snap last Friday, a game Jeff City won 31-21. The two teams face off again tonight in the first round of the district playoffs. Photo by Maribeth Eiken.

Spread: Jeff City by 7.7

Overview:

The situation doesn’t look too bright for the Bruins. After starting their season 4-1, Rock Bridge’s squad has dropped their last four games.

Going into the 2013 season, the Bruins looked like they could challenge for a state title. Junior quarterback Logan Twehous was in his second year as a starter, and he had more than enough support at skill positions, with standout senior Zach Reuter and junior star recruit Alex Ofodile seemingly able to catch anything near them. Twehous could scramble handily for yards on the ground, or hand off the ball to seniors Eli Stout and Tarus Moore to move downfield.

After their last four games, though, those storylines from the first half of the season don’t seem to hold much weight. Rock Bridge’s most recent loss was at home, on homecoming and against the same foe they face tonight.

Breaking it down for the Bruins:

This is the playoffs, so it’s win-or-go-home for both teams. The Bruins, once ranked as high as #2 in the state poll dropped to unranked last weekend, while they Jays hold on to their #8 ranking. However, all those opinions go out the window when two teams walk onto the gridiron in the district quarterfinal game.
The Bruins’ defense gave up only 23.8 points per game during their 4-1 run to open the season, with their last victory a 27-10 win over the rival Kewpies. Through their last four games, all losses, opponents have scored an average of 41.25 points against Rock Bridge. There’s a new storyline for you: can the Bruin defense return to form and make it easier on their offense to win?
During their losing streak, the Bruins’ offense hasn’t declined in production as much as their defense; however, they have gone from 34.4 to 24.25 points per game, a sizable decrease. One large reason for this is the increase in interceptions thrown by Twehous. Going into the Providence Bowl, he had thrown only three in four games. In the last five games, Twehous has delivered the ball to the opponent nine times, often during key drives. Another storyline: Can Twehous keep the ball in his team’s hands long enough to reach the endzone?

Junior QB Logan Twehous throws the ball for an incomplete pass as the clock is ticking down in the fourth quarter.
Junior QB Logan Twehous sets up to throw downfield during last week’s game. Photo by Maribeth Eiken.

Key stats and matchups:

  • Twehous has a 59% completion rate, and averages 14.4 yards per reception. He has a whopping 29 touchdowns, though the previously mentioned 12 interceptions pose a large hurdle. He leads the area with 2,591 passing yards.
  • Senior Gabe Marcantonio, the Jays’ quarterback, has a 51% completion rate, and averages only 11.6 yards per reception with nine passing touchdowns. His game-manager style has its upside, though, as Marcantonio has only thrown two interceptions on the season. He has significant scramble ability, and has 715 rushing yards and has reached the endzone 11 times. He is also the Jays’ kicker.
  • Zach Reuter, playing in potentially the last game of his Rock Bridge career, will obviously be a major factor for the offense. He has 946 receiving yards for 13 touchdowns, and  averages a ridiculous 18.9 yards per touch. These video game-like numbers show that if Twehous can connect with Reuter enough, the Bruins have the potential for an upset.
  • 4-star recruit Junior Alex Ofodile, who has offers from 12 D1 colleges and is called the #1 recruit in his class in Missouri, has 848 yards on the year and has reached the endzone 11 times. He averages 12.7 yards per touch.
  • Senior Ross Alexander, who Bruins’ head coach AJ Ofodile says “changed the tone of [the] defense” after the Providence Bowl, leads the Bruins with 1o1 tackles and five sacks. Brody Watson has four sacks as well. If Alexander, Watson and the rest of the Bruins’ defense play a tough, physical game, it will again set the tone for a Rock Bridge win.

Extra points:
The Bruins dodged a major bullet with Twehous being cleared to play in this game. He had originally been reported out due to an injury.
However, Rock Bridge will still be without Stout, who led the Bruins with 599 rushing yards, averaging 5.4 yards per carry. He also had five touchdowns.

Prediction:

Marcantonio leads the Jays in rushing and hasn’t turned over the ball in weeks, but the Jays’ offense behind him looks relatively thin. While they won last week’s game, it was by no means a blowout, and if not for a Twehous interception late in the second quarter the Bruins would’ve threatened even more.

The Bruins have an explosive offense. That’s one storyline that’s never changed. They have the potential to beat any team they face. Coming in as the underdogs and with the thought of last week’s loss fresh in their minds, they will be a team with a single-minded focus come 7:00 tonight.

The Jays have won more and lost less games than the Bruins, but neither dog in this fight looks like the clear favorite. It’s playoff football and anything can happen. I’ve picked two games so far this year. The first time, I was wrong and Rock Bridge lost. The second, I was right and the Bruins won. I’m 1-1 in predictions, so I’m clearly human.

I picked with the odds both those times though, so I’m doing something new today. Though the Jays are favored by a little more than a touchdown, I’m going with the Bruins winning and advancing to face the winner of Hickman vs. Francis Howell Central.

I’m a sucker for the Cinderalla storyline.

By Brett Stover