It seems as though the conversations surrounding Rockhurst football are the same at the beginning of every season. “Have you seen that schedule? It seems like it gets harder every year.”
This year is no exception, and if it seems like the team’s schedule has been getting harder by the year, well, thats because it has.
During a year in which Rockhurst’s schedule is packed by two powerhouses from the football-crazed state of Arkansas (Bentonville and Springdale Har-Ber), a team that has gone 133-5 over the past decade (Webb City), and two other perennial KC-area state championship challengers (Blue Springs and Blue Springs South), some of the team’s toughest competition will actually come in week one, against Columbia Rock Bridge.
Rock Bridge made it to the Missouri Class 6A state championship last season, only to lose to undefeated Blue Springs. Like Rockhurst, the core of Rock Bridge’s explosive offense from last season returns.
Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Columbia Rock Bridge High School Columbia, Missouri
Last Season: Rockhurst over Rock Bridge 47-28 @ Rockhurst
Preseason State Ranking (according to maxpreps.com): Rockhurst: #4, Rock Bridge: #3
Rock Bridge’s Logan Twehous and Alex Ofodile vs. Rockhurst’s secondary
It’s no secret who the Bruins look for on offense. Senior wide receiver Alex Ofodile, son of the Rock Bridge head coach, is one of the top recruits at his position in the country and is headed to Oregon next year. He is figured to be the centerpiece of the Bruin offense and stopping him will be one of the Hawklet’s main objectives on defense.
Senior quarterback Logan Twehous returns a year after throwing for 3,500 yards, roughly a third of them to Ofodile.
For the Hawklets to have success, they will either have to slow down the Bruin’s potent passing attack or turn a Rock Bridge mistake in the passing game into a big play.
Rock Bridge’s front seven vs. Rockhurst’s rushing attack
Rock Bridge had quite a bit of success scoring points last year, but not much in preventing them. The Bruins gave up nearly 30 points per game last season including their run to the state semifinals.
The Hawklets beat Rock Bridge last season by rushing for 256 yards and six touchdowns, and just half of that production in tonight’s game would go a long way for the team. A strong rushing attack is especially important in slowing down the pace of a team like Rock Bridge that will try to speed up the tempo of the game.
Rockhurst returns its leading rusher from last year, senior Kiah Kintchen, who will likely split some of the load with speedy junior AJ Taylor. Watch for senior quarterback TJ Green to pick up some yards on the ground as well, with well-timed scrambles, as he has shown he is capable of doing in the past. Green ran for two touchdowns against the Bruins last season.
Ultimately, playing a tough schedule is what you want if you are a team like Rockhurst that has state title aspirations every year. Playing top tier competition from week one should give the Hawklets’ somewhat inexperienced defense the ability to assess what they have and get up to speed with the type of high-end athletes that they will be facing all year.
If Rockhurst can control the ball for big chunks of time using the running game and force Rock Bridge’s passing attack to throw an interception or two, as they did in the game last season, the Hawklets will be well on their way to a solid, resume-building win in Week One.
Make sure to follow @RHSprepnews for live-tweet updates of the game, and check back on the site tonight for a recap by Executive Editor Zach Klamann.