COLUMBIA — After practice, Rock Bridge football coach A.J. Ofodile blew his whistle calling for the team to huddle up.
After a quick speech, the team grouped together in the huddle and put their hands in the middle.
Rock Bridge (4-3) vs. Liberty (5-2)
WHEN: 7 p.m.
WHERE: William Jewell College; Liberty
The players seemed happy, laughing and smiling. Many positive roars of "yeah," "woo" and even "let's do this" echoed on the field. It definitely didn't sound like a team that has lost two games in a row.
The last two weeks have been the worst games of the season for the Bruins. Through the first five games, the defense allowed an average of 23.8 points per game.
In the Bruins' last two games, the defense allowed 59 and 47 points to Helias and Rockhurst, respectively.
Ofodile says the best thing to do for the defense going forward is to simplify things and give the guys confidence. The team just isn't used to losing in a large fashion like they did the last two weeks, so making sure the team stays levelheaded is important.
Despite the losses, Ofodile says the team morale is not low like some might think.
"Immediately after the game, yes (morale is low)," Ofodile said. "Our guys are pretty resilient and do a good job of regrouping. Part of the task ... when you haven't had a good day is putting that behind you and starting over again and looking for some things to try to build on.
"We haven't been beat like that in quite some time, especially two weeks in a row. ... I think our guys are really bouncing back and optimistic going forward."
In order to keep the the players optimistic, Ofodile has been telling the team to focus on the district. Rock Bridge is 2-0 in Class 5 District 3 games with wins over Fort Zumwalt West and Hickman and have one more district game to go against Jefferson City next week.
The Bruins are currently ranked fifth out of eight teams in District 3. The difference between finishing in spots 1-4 vs. 5-8 in the district is that the top four teams receive a home game in at least the first week of district tournaments.
Ofodile and the team want to play at home for districts.
"For us, it's just trying to get that extra home game," Ofodile said. "If we're able to have success in our last two games then we're sitting pretty good in our district."
Before playing Jefferson City, though, Rock Bridge is scheduled to face Liberty at 7 p.m. Friday. Liberty has beaten Rockhurst and Raymore-Peculiar this season, which represent two of Rock Bridge's three losses this year.
The last time Rock Bridge played Liberty was 2012, where the Bruins won a 28-21 overtime showdown.
"They were really physical last year when we played them," Ofodile said. "They fly around. They're physical. They're going to be sound.
"We need to use these next couple weeks to establish some good habits and getting back on the right mindset."
Supervising editor is Erik Hall.