COLUMBIA — Rock Bridge football coach A.J. Ofodile knows he has a great core of players.
He has no problem talking all day about them, either.
Coach: A.J. Ofodile (11th season)
Last season: 7-4
Returning starters: 12 (seven offense, five defense)
Friday: at DeSmet, 7 p.m.
Sept. 6: vs. Fort Zumwalt West, 7 p.m.
Sept. 13: at Springdale-Har-Ber, 7 p.m.
Sept. 20: vs. Raymore-Peculiar, 7 p.m.
Sept. 27: at Hickman, 7 p.m.
Oct. 5: at Helias, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11: at Rockhurst, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 18: at Liberty, 7 p.m.
Oct. 25: vs. Jefferson City, 7 p.m.
Nov. 1: Districts, TBA
“We like our personnel,” Ofodile said. “I could probably rattle off a bunch of guys and what their qualities are at every position.”
And Ofodile did just that.
Ofodile wasted no time listing off some of his better and “underrated” players, praising sophomore Hayden Johnson, juniors Logan Twehous and Alex Ofodile, and senior Zach Reuter.
Twehous, the starting quarterback, has been successful in coach Ofodile’s no-huddle spread offense.
“I think [Twehous] is as talented as they come as far as understanding the system,” Ofodile said. “He’s a kid that’s wise beyond his years, mature beyond his years. We put a lot on him, give him freedom to change plays at the line.”
Johnson, a tight end that plays both sides of the ball, is the youngest of a group of six wide receivers and tight ends that stand at least 6-foot-2.
“We’re trying to manage his reps a little bit, but he’s absolutely loaded at the point of attack blocking,” Ofodile said about Johnson. “He’s athletic and exactly what you want [at tight end].”
Reuter and Alex Ofodile, coach Ofodile's son, are also part of that tall group of receivers and tight ends. Reuter is “one of the most underrated players in the state,” according to coach Ofodile. The coach also pointed out that Alex has been getting recruiting attention. According to Rivals.com, Alex has received scholarship offers from Kentucky, Vanderbilt, Wisconsin and Memphis.
After showing his skill positions some love, Ofodile shed light on the offensive line, saying they are a strong group, but there is still some youth with three juniors at the line. Still, having young players means there is hope for the future at those positions, and for the team as well.
“The future is brighter than it’s ever been,” Anthony Lopez said, father of freshmen guard/center Ben Lopez. “With the [public schools] being divided into three now, I think it boils down to coaching. I’ve got a lot of confidence in the coaching staff. They make a really great environment for the kids.”
Rock Bridge plans to showcase their talent in their first regular season game 7 p.m. Friday at De Smet Jesuit High School in St. Louis. They are scheduled to have their first home game Sept. 6 against Fort Zumwalt West High School.
Although they are looking forward to beginning the season, the players still keep their rival, Hickman High School, in the back of their mind. Rock Bridge has been knocked out of the playoffs by Hickman in the last two seasons.
Last season, including the playoff game, Hickman defeated Rock Bridge in two close games by scores of 22-21 and 10-7, the latter going into overtime.
“[The rivalry with Hickman] is pretty strong,” Ofodile said. “I think our kids definitely get into it. It’s emotional. Those games came down to a play in both situations. We just expect that rivalry to be that way. It’s kind of cliché, but it’s definitely one where you throw the records out.”
Hickman leads the all-time series against Rock Bridge 10-7. Rock Bridge will face off against Hickman at 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27, in the annual Providence Bowl.