COLUMBIA — Mark Pickerel and Shawn Rush Jr. battled for the Bruins starting quarterback position during Rock Bridge’s preseason football practices.
That battle isn’t finished yet. Coach A.J. Ofodile has mixed and matched both in the two games the Bruins (1-1) have played this season.
“There’s always a battle,” Pickerel said. “If you’re not giving 100 percent in practice, an underclassman can come up and take your job. We’re similar. That’s why it’s so tough for coach to make the decision. It’s like a game-time decision. I don’t know what he’s going to do.”
Pickerel started in the Bruins’ first game of the season, but a sore groin limited his play. He finished with 29 yards on six carries and was 7-for-9 with 39 passing yards.
Rush finished the game, a 22-13 victory over Lee's Summit North, racing for 55 yards on six carries with 22 yards on two completions. He then started in Friday’s 31-14 loss to Hazelwood Central. But nerves got the best of him. Rush had 25 passing yards in three attempts and just 13 rushing yards on five carries.
Pickerel sparked the Bruins’ two scoring drives with excellent passes in relief of Rush. He finished with 131 passing yards on eight passes and said that his groin was feeling better.
“There’s no particular reason (why one plays over another),” Rush said. “I can run and pass the ball well. He can run and pass, too. We’re like the same person on the field.”
The Bruins could use Rush at running back but don’t want to compromise his play at safety. Pickerel has experience at wide receiver during practice, which means the two could take the field during the same play.
“We’ve dabbled in that idea,” Ofodile said.
The Bruins are going to continue with the two-quarterback system for the time being, and Ofodile said he doesn’t mind if they have to use it the entire season if need be.
“There’s really no plan on how to use them,” Ofodile said. “You hope that they’re hot and you won’t have to substitute. The only challenge is both deserve to play. It’s tough to say one’s going to start or a play. The rhythm is still the same (when there’s a substitution). We can still run the same plays.”