Bruins prepare for district game against crosstown rival


Students and parents of students in band will be selling “Providence Bowl Re-match” shirts in the commons before school and during lunch for $10 each. The proceeds will go directly to the Bruin Band Boosters. Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes

Daphne Yu

Students and parents of students in band will be selling “Providence Bowl Re-match” shirts in the commons before school and during lunch for $10 each. The proceeds go to the Bruin Band Boosters. Photo by Maria Kalaitzandonakes
After defeating the sixth seeded Troy Buchannan Trojans 34-0 at last Friday’s game, the RBHS football team will face the Hickman Kewpies tomorrow at 7 p.m. for a chance to advance in the district tournament. After losing by one point in the last 3:37 of the Providence Bowl earlier this season to the Kewpies, the team goes into tomorrow’s game with everything to gain.
“Anytime you play a team two times in one year, it’s a little bit of a luxury. Especially, as crazy as it sounds, coming from the short end of it,” Head Football coach A.J. Ofodile. “You really come into it with a nothing-to-lose mentality. The thought process is that you want to clean up any of the mistakes you made last time, those types of things. We kind of faced the nightmare of what it’s like to lose. We faced that nightmare for the last six weeks, so for us, it’s just all game with nothing to lose.”
Although the game is reminiscent of the Providence Bowl and can be seen as the retribution game between the two cross-town rivals, the winning team will take home more than just a victory. Being in post-season, every victory takes the team a step further and a loss means the end of the season.
“At this point in the season, it’s win and survive,” Athletic Director Dr. Jennifer Mast said. “If you win, you advance; if you lose, your season’s over. It’s like this in all sports and it’s really dramatic, when it’s your crosstown rival and everybody gets to go to the game.”
The loss at the Providence Bowl was hard, but Ofodile said the team is only zoning in on what they learned and how they can improve. Tomorrow, the boys have a chance to fix some of the mistakes they made last time, Ofodile said, and if they can get those things cleaned up, then the boys have the opportunity to advance to state.
Tomorrow, the goal is to “just stay together,” senior Matt Bush, one of the captains on the team said. “Last game we were ahead and I think we kind of backed off and this game we need to keep it at 100 percent. We were taking the easy way out on a couple of plays and just not doing what we’d been taught, and this game we’ll do what we’re supposed to and hopefully we’ll win.”
The main focus of the team is to get to the playoffs stage, Ofodile said, and a win against their rivals is just another bonus. In order to prepare for the game tomorrow, the team looks at the rivalry as just another game.
“I think for both teams if you take the same 11 players on each side of the ball and you put them in different uniforms, other than the [RBHS] and Hickman uniform, it really changes the outlook of the game,” Ofodile said. “I think everything is magnified because it is the cross-town rival. Any mistake you make weighs a whole lot heavier on your mind than any game against the other team. So that’s part of our system is maybe you do a bit of imagining that it’s not them. Maybe it’s another purple team; maybe it’s Troy or Ft. Zumwalt West. You do that the best you can to maybe try to mitigate the undue pressure that the kids feel. … It has to be playing like you would just another football game.”
In the playoffs last year, the team’s season ended this same week – Week 11 in a game against Rockhurst where the Bruins lost in the last minute and 7 seconds 10-9. The sectional game from last year had around 50 kids and a bunch of parents, Mast said, but this year’s Week 11 has the chance to be different.
Last year’s game had a “decent crowd but you had to travel two and a half hours to get there,” Mast said. “Here’s an opportunity in week 11 in the playoffs against Hickman – big rivalry – and we already played them once this season, which we did last year with Rockhurst. Here’s an opportunity where you don’t have to travel to see us. You just have to go downtown and we’ll even bus you there.”
Four shuttle buses from RBHS to Hickman will start departing at 5:30 and the last will leave no later than 6:10. All who find a seat on the bus – first come first serve – will also have a seat in the designated bleachers. BruCrew will host a tailgate on RBHS turf right after school before the buses leave, and admission is free, BruCrew leader senior Sam Keller said.
The team is prepared to go all out tomorrow night and take back a win against the Kewpies, but more importantly to give it their all.
“Of course I want to win,” Bush said, but he wants “a close, hard game. If it was my last game, I want to make sure I go all out and have it be the toughest game I’ve ever played.”
Watch a video about the desire for redemption here.
By Daphne Yu
To listen to the live broadcast of the game tomorrow, click here.