Providence Bowl XIX

Photo+by+Maribeth+Eiken

Senior wide receiver Alex Ofodile rises above Kewpie senior quarterback and defensive corner, Mason Murray. Turnage caught the pass for one of the Bruins’ three touchdown receptions en route to a 27-10 victory over HHS. Photo by Maribeth Eiken

Brett Stover

No. 10 Rock Bridge (2-2) vs. No. 18 Hickman (0-4)

7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19 at Sells Field

Fast Facts:

  • The Kewpies lead the all-time series 10-8
  • The teams played two close and contentious games in 2012, including a HHS regular season victory on a missed field goal as time expired
  • The second installment, in 1994, resulted in a 43-42 Kewpie victory in 3 OT, dubbed the “Game of the Century”

The Bruins take on the Kewpies for the 19th time in school history. Hickman is still looking for their first win of 2014, while the Bruins are looking to go back above .500.  The Bruins begin Week 4 at No. 10 in both the Sportswriters Poll and the MaxPreps Rankings, and the Kewpies stand at No. 18 (MaxPreps) despite an average of a 33-point margin of defeat. 

The Kewpies were blown out by Helias last week, and the Bruins’ comeback fell short against consensus No. 1 Lee’s Summit West. 

The Bruins were victorious in last year’s meeting, a 27-10 win at Hickman. 

Quarterback Logan Twehous, who has gone 1-2 against the Kewpies during his first two years, knows firsthand the excitement and anguish of a rivalry game. He led the Bruins to victory in a blowout last season, less than a year after throwing the game-ending interception in overtime.

“It’s always and exciting game every time we get to play a crosstown rival like Hickman.” Twehous said. “I know a lot of guys from over there. They’re having a rough season. We’re .500 on the season, and it’s a big turning point for us if we can get a win … it can really give some momentum.

While many players, like Twehous, find energy and motivation from playing a crosstown rival, Bruin head coach A.J. Ofodile says he’ll treat it like any regular season game. He believes that the overthinking your opponent has caused problems for his team in the past.

coach-ofodile
RBHS Head Coach A.J. Ofodile fields questions from a KOMU reporter on Sells Field Thursday Sept. 19. His Bruins will take on the rival Kewpies tonight. Photo by Brett Stover.

“Whether you’re a quarterback and need to subdue yourself a little bit, whether you’re a defensive player and you need to be a little bit more ‘up,’ whatever that may be that focus at the start of the game – you need to throw out the doubt, throw out some of those things and we obviously did that in the second half,” Ofodile said. “I think that was a great learning experience for our guys. I think they got to see what that felt like against a first-rate opponent and see that we can have a lot of success when we do that, which was huge.”

He thinks that while the Bruins’ comeback fell short last week against the Titans, the loss was a good learning experience for the players. The Bruins play one of the toughest schedules in the state, a format Ofodile likes.

“That’s the best thing about our system, as far as the playoffs go,” Ofodile said. “These are all glorified preseason games. You get the opportunity to play good people, figure out where you are, where you got to get better. The nice thing for us is one, we learned we’re physically capable of playing with anybody in the state.  The second thing we learned is you have to figure out how to reach that optimal level of mental focus.”

That focus will be key when it comes to taking down the Kewpies. He stressed again to keep the emotions out of it, repeatedly brushing off any overarching significance of the rivalry besides those expectations put on it by others.

“We’re trying our best to diffuse all of that,” Ofodile said. “It’s a week five game, it has some district ramifications, but you can’t put your entire season on a week five football game. We’ll line up, we’ll play, and we’ll reevaluate after this week five game.”

More Coach Ofodile:

  • On his son, star WR Alex Ofodile: “The sky’s the limit for what he can do. He has some innate things instinctively he can do that allow him to feel some things that really give him an advantage. You can always do the measurables, you can do the size and the 40 times and the vertical jumps. He has a good portion of those things too, but it’s really the instinct and the timing that I think sets him apart.” Alex Ofodile was honored this morning as he was chosen to participate in the Under Armour All-American Game  in St. Petersburg on Jan. 2. The national No. 123 and state No. 2 recruit, according to 247 Sports, committed to Oregon this summer. 
  • Prediction: While the Kewpies may play their hearts out, keeping the score closer than expected, the superior Bruin offense will help RBHS pull out the victory. 35-14 Bruins.

    On Hickman’s offense: “They are multiple. They do some spread, they do some two- and three-back things, try to be a power running team in some regards but sometimes spread it out. The most notable thing is their quarterback, Carter Nicoli. He’s very athletic, he gets out and moves around, and that always presents a problem when you have to bottle up an athletic quarterback.”
  • On Kewpie QB Carter Nicoli: “There’s some similar aspects [between Nicoli and former QB Mason Murray]. I think he might be – obviously I’m not over there so I can’t say with certainty – he’s made some pretty big plays this year and might be a little bit top-end faster, probably not quite as shifty as Murray was, he was hard to get on the ground sometimes. Arm strength is pretty comparable, Mason’s probably got a little more true release, Carter’s release is a little unconventional but he’s got pretty good arm strength. I think the end result is really similar. Carter’s definitely a really good football player.”
  • On playing Hickman at home for the first time since 2002: “Faurot had a big effect on us because you’re in a big venue, you get 18,000, 17,000 people out. The lights are brighter, everything’s louder because of the bowl. That had a huge impact, you had to work on the mindset when it comes to Faurot because it’s so different. Here it’s comfortable, we’ve had good crowds for the first couple of games, Lee’s Summit West has a great crowd every week. I don’t think the crowd will be much different for this game than it was for Battle, so I don’t think it’ll be profoundly different once we get up and running. Honestly, I’d be surprised if we even used those bleachers. We’ll see. I could be wrong, but we’ll see. We had a few thousand people at Hickman last year, we had we’ll have a few thousand people here I’m sure. That’s kinda the typical early season numbers.”