COLUMBIA — The annual Providence Bowl football game between Rock Bridge and Hickman is not likely to get mistaken for anything but a rivalry game.
“It's one of the best rivalries, I think, in the state because of the atmosphere and the cross-town aspect,” Rock Bridge coach A.J. Ofodile said.
A little animosity fuels the fire as well.
“(It’s) definitely not a friendly rivalry at all,” senior Bruins tailback Freeman Simmons said with a laugh. “From the outside looking in, yeah, I'd say not friendly.”
Simmons and his senior teammates will look to defeat the Kewpies for the fourth straight year when Rock Bridge and Hickman meet this Friday at Memorial Stadium.
“They want to put their stamp on it and say, 'We went undefeated against Hickman when we were here,' and I'm looking forward to helping them do that,” said Bruins sophomore quarterback Logan Twehous.
Hickman brings a 4-0 record into the game, and Rock Bridge enters the contest at 3-1 after its first loss last Friday at Raymore-Peculiar. The two teams’ hot starts have added hype to an already much-anticipated matchup.
“It's hard to go through the Rock Bridge school halls without somebody mentioning it to you,” Twehous said.
The buzz has hit computer screens as well.
The hashtags #RBlife and #Hickmanlife have been used by students on Twitter to make fun of their rival schools.
On Friday, after celebrating Hickman's victory over Helias High School, Hickman's Purple and Gold Newspaper, @Hickman_News, tweeted "To make this night even better, Rock Bridge lost."
“We just got to focus on them (the Kewpies) and not on Twitter and all that Facebook talk,” Simmons said.
The Bruins will have to maintain focus if they hope to rebound after last week’s disappointment.
“You always want to be able to bounce back after that loss,” Twehous said. “Especially after the week that we had. We struggled in practice, and we need to come out the rest of the week focused, and be ready for that one game.”
Simmons thinks the Bruins’ mark in the loss column gives the team a bit more motivation.
“People are looking at us as the underdog since they're 4-0, but it's definitely more important to us than it would be to them, I think,” he said.
Twehous and Simmons both expressed excitement at playing on a bigger stage. Ofodile echoed their sentiments.
“It's a big situation,” he said. “You get anywhere from 10 to 15 thousand fans. The guys get a chance to play at Faurot Field. A lot of kids, beyond high school, aren't going to get a chance to play there.”
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.