COLUMBIA — The Rock Bridge High School football team hibernated through its Week 1 loss to Rockhurst High School but came back hungry Friday night.
"We're gonna eat tonight! We're gonna eat tonight!" screamed Bruins safety Bryce Banks after the first series of the game.
Rock Bridge forced De Smet Jesuit High School to go three-and-out on that series. It was a sign of things to come.
The Rock Bridge defense was ferocious all night and paved the way for a 44-0 win over the Spartans. Sure, Bruins quarterback Logan Twehous, who threw four touchdowns, and wide receiver Alex Ofodile, who caught three of them, had their fair share of spectacular plays, but it was the less-discussed defense that took control of the spotlight.
Rock Bridge junior linebacker Garret Barnette-Kruger set the tone for the night when he laid out Spartans senior quarterback Alik Shelton on the team's second possession, drawing loud reactions from the crowd.
Like (head coach A.J. Ofodile) "always says, break down and follow through," Barnette-Kruger said about the tackle. "All those weights I've been lifting helped a little bit, too."
Shelton stayed in the game but appeared shaken by the crushing collision. He would later leave the game but only for a few plays.
Bruins junior cornerback Marcell Smith had two interceptions in the first half, one coming during one of the few threatening drives for the Spartans. Cornerback Trey Smith added a third interception for Rock Bridge late in the second quarter.
"Marcell and Trey really stepped up for us tonight. The turnovers were huge for our confidence," nose tackle Joe Boettcher said, who showed up in the De Smet Jesuit backfield numerous times himself. "We played with attention, we knew our assignments, and we executed."
The second half started in similar fashion. De Smet Jesuit's first three plays of the third quarter resulted in a botched toss play, a sack and a screen pass just getting past the line of scrimmage. The game was no longer in doubt.
Rock Bridge pulled some of its starters midway through the third quarter.
"The defense was awesome tonight," Twehous said. "I can't remember the last time (Rock Bridge) had a shutout. Getting a stop on their (De Smet's) first possession, us scoring on our first play."
Friday's game was the Bruins first shutout since Oct. 26, 2012, a 34-0 playoff win over Troy-Buchanan High School.
Rock Bridge will face off against Battle High School at 7 p.m. Friday at Battle.
Supervising editor is Raymond Howze.