The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

The Student News Site of Rock Bridge High School

Bearing News

Bruins drop district quarterfinal game to Blue Springs

Junior cornerback and wide receiver Marquis McCaster (21) along with other RBHS players, kneel down in a huddle for one last post-game speech from Head Coach Van Vanatta. The Bruins fell to Blue Springs 17-10 on Nov. 1. Photo by Elliot Bachrach.

Down 17-10 late in the fourth quarter, the Bruins were in dire need of a touchdown. Senior quarterback Grant Hajicek took the snap and danced from foot to foot, scanning down the field for receivers with golden helmets and white jerseys. He saw senior running back Miles Cheatum running a wheel route. Planting his left foot forward, he released the ball. A player leaped up and snatched the ball out of the air, landing at the Bruins’ 41-yard line. The player, however, wore a dark purple helmet and jersey of a Blue Springs Wildcat. The interception by senior defensive back Quin Ensor gave them the ball with about two minutes to play; Blue Springs continued to pound the Bruin’s defense, running out the clock for the 17-10 victory over RBHS.

“I got pressured [by the defense] earlier than I thought I would,” Hajicek said. “I tried to put some air under [the ball], but the [strong safety] came in.”

On their first drive of the game they went three and out, forcing them to punt to Blue Springs from their own 15-yard line, giving the Wildcats good field position. Blue Springs would capitalize on this opportunity when senior quarterback Dom Harkness connected with junior wide receiver Isaac Harkness for a 12-yard touchdown pass. The receiver broke multiple tackles and extended out, diving to break the plane of the endzone on a breathtaking second effort. Senior Fredy Romero’s point after try (PAT) was good, and Blue Springs led RBHS 7-0 early in the first quarter. 

Thanks to junior Bryce Jackson’s sheer speed, the Bruins weren’t behind for long. On the Bruins next drive, Hajicek tossed a shovel pass to Jackson, who found a hole in the Wildcat’s defense that allowed him to go 46 yards for a touchdown. Senior Will Norris’s PAT was good, tying the game at seven with four minutes left in the first quarter. 

The rest of the first half was a defensive battle, with only three points being scored by either team in the second quarter. Senior free safety Tre Manuel ensured a competitive game when he ascended into the air, plucking the ball away from a receiver at the Bruins’ 20-yard line. RBHS floundered to take advantage of the turnover, being forced to punt. Each team’s drives continued to result in punting the ball away until Norris kicked a 34-yard field goal, putting the Bruins up 10-7 at halftime. 

The Bruins’ first drive of the second half ended with points, but not for RBHS. Hajicek threw his first interception of the game to defensive back Stefan Black II, giving the Wildcats the ball at the Bruin’s 38-yard line. Blue Springs drove the ball further into Bruin’s territory, putting them in field goal range. Romero kicked a 29-yard field goal straight through the uprights, and the game was once again deadlocked at 10 with five minutes left in the third quarter.

It remained tied until Norris’ 40-yard field goal attempt was blocked by the Wildcats, giving them the ball at their own 29-yard line with seven minutes left in the game. Blue Springs drove the ball to the Bruin’s 21-yard line. It was fourth down for the Cats, and they could have brought out Romero to kick another field goal. The Blue Springs offense, however, stayed on the field and converted a first down. The next play, senior running back Quentin Fontenot burst through the Bruin defenders for a 17-yard touchdown. Romero’s PAT was successful, and Blue Springs was up 17-10 after a touchdown that would go on to decide the game. 

“We just needed to capitalize on some things and get some things done. We just didn’t capitalize at the right time,” Head Coach Van Vanatta said. “But they played hard, and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Senior wide receiver Brett Mooney agreed with Vanatta that the team held their own and competed well. He also credited the performance of Blue Springs’ defense, pointing out their slew of strengths.

“Their defense was good. [They were] real fast; they got to the ball real quick… If you caught the ball, they were going to be there really quickly. They were a bunch of fast kids; they were a really good team.”

– Senior Wide receiver Brett Mooney

“Their defense was good. [They were] real fast; they got to the ball real quick,” Mooney said. “If you caught the ball, they were going to be there really quickly. They were a bunch of fast kids; they were a really good team.”

The team faced a lot of adversity this season, nabbing just three wins after a ten-win season in 2018 and nine wins in 2017.

 Although this season didn’t go the way the Bruins wanted, senior defensive and offensive lineman Luke Simon will remember the year for more than just its record. He said he’ll think back to how the team persevered, even if the scores didn’t reflect it.

“Although there was a sense of disappointment after some losses, we never let it affect our attitudes and the overall mood of the team,” Simon said. “We usually kept our heads up and put our focus on the next team we played.”  

Throughout the losses and hardship, Vanatta said he’s discovered a lot about himself and as a coach.

“I learned a lot this year; it was a tough year. I learned a lot about myself and as a coach,” Vanatta said. “Hopefully I can take some time off and come to peace with things, and just move on to next year.”

Despite the many defeats this year, the most important thing to Mooney, Simon and Hajicek is that they got to have fun playing football with their friends, whether it was at practice, workouts or games. They said they wouldn’t trade that for anything. 

“It’s sad [that it was my last game]. I didn’t think I was going to cry, but I am,” Mooney said. “It’s definitely disappointing, but I feel like I had a lot of fun. I enjoyed it. It was one of the most memorable times of my life, and there’s nothing I [would] take back from it.” 

How do you think the Bruins will do next season? Let us know in the comments below.

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