High school teams across the state officially begin fall sports practice today and many athletes, including Rock Bridge quarterback Chase Patton, said they are looking forward to returning to competition.
“I can’t wait to get out there and get some pads on,” Patton said. “It’s been tough all summer just talking about football.”
Patton has had a busy off-season. One of the top senior recruits in the country, Patton has drawn the attention of many powerhouse programs. After returning from last month’s EA Sports Elite 11 Quarterback Camp in California, he said he has narrowed the possibilities to Missouri, Tennessee and UCLA with Iowa, Kansas State, Stanford and Virginia in the picture. With all the attention to his life after high school, Patton said he is looking forward to playing one final season for the Bruins, who are looking to improve on last year’s 8-4 record.
“With everything that’s been going this summer,” Patton said, “it feels like I’m getting ready to go to college right now.
“Senior year only happens once, and I guess it’s probably the best of the four.”
Last season, the Bruins claimed their first playoff victory since joining Class 6 but lost in the semifinal game against No. 1 Rockhurst.
“I think that game last year really helped everyone,” Patton said. “We got so close and I think now we know what it takes to do it again.”
Rock Bridge girls’ tennis coach Ben Loeb is also looking for success this fall. The Bruins won the Class 2 state championship last year but know another title will be tough.
“It’s a difficult thing to repeat, especially for a public school,” Loeb said. “I think we’ll be one of the better teams in the state, and hopefully we’ll get better every week and be a true contender by the end of the season.”
The Bruins were 23-2 last season but a key player graduated.
“We’ve lost Kristen Kornegay, a four-year starter, and she was a big part of that team last year,” Loeb said. “I think we’re going to need some leadership from what I think will be our top three, Stephanie Smarr, Kara Hickey, and Whitney Reys.”
Loeb’s team will get an early test, with a match against St. Joseph Central set for Aug. 27.
“They are one of the top teams in the state,” Loeb said. “Our schedule at the start of the season is tough, real tough.
“We have our work cut out for us early and we need to get out and start hitting some balls.”
The biggest news at Hickman High School this summer hasn’t been athletics. Construction at Hickman this summer on new student commons and classrooms has been disruptive, but the start of practices today brings a sense of normalcy.
“We have a little chink in the armor,” Doug Mirts, Hickman athletic director, said, “but we have worked all that out. We’re anxious to get started.
“We had some track state champions, and cross-country was probably the most successful, but we are starting out the season pretty fresh with everything else.”