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Rock Bridge's Kruse keeps opponents guessing

Friday, October 3, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 9:58 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Every team wants versatility. Rock Bridge has Johnny Kruse to make the Bruins multifaceted.

The Bruins, 4-0 and ranked fifth in Class 6, play at 7 tonight at Fulton, and Kruse will play his standard positions: free safety, wide receiver, punt returner and tailback.

Kruse said he enjoys playing offense and defense.

“It’s fun to break a touchdown,” Kruse said. “Then again, it’s fun just to knock somebody out.”

Kruse rushed for 112 yards on four carries against Marshall on Sept. 26. He had a 68-yard touchdown run in the first quarter as a quarterback. Kruse added a 25-yard touchdown run as the tailback in the third quarter.

In three games, he has 13 carries for 153 yards and 15 catches for 178 yards.

“He can do a lot of things,” quarterback Chase Patton said. “Last game, he was pretty much our offense. He’s definitely a playmaker.”

Kruse did not play against Moberly on Sept. 12 because of a strained left hamstring. He also is recovering from surgery on the meniscus in his left knee. Kruse had been having pain in the knee, but said he caught the problem before it became a major injury. He spent three to four weeks rehabilitating the knee during the summer.

Even with the solid numbers, Kruse started slowly. Kruse didn’t play well in the opening game against Mexico on Sept. 5, making five catches for 35 yards.

Ofodile paid extra attention to Kruse during practices after the first two games, trying to get him to play better. Kruse said he didn’t want to make excuses for the slow start.

“I just wasn’t playing up to my potential,” Kruse said.

Kruse made seven receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns against Kirksville on Sept. 19. Ofodile said Kruse’s ability to accelerate gives him an advantage over most players.

“He’s a guy that’s up to full speed usually in a step or two, which makes all the difference in the world,” Ofodile said. “Johnny’s got great acceleration.”

Defensively, Kruse can play linebacker, cornerback or free safety. Ofodile said Kruse’s hitting power is one of the first things that stands out.

“When he hits you, you’re definitely going to feel it,” Ofodile said.

The Fulton Hornets (0-4) are coming off a 7-0 loss to Kirksville in the closest game the Hornets have played. The Hornets haven’t scored since Sept. 5, when they lost to Marshall 28-16. Fulton was shut out against Helias and Hannibal.

Rock Bridge played a tough game against Fulton last year. The Bruins led by six in the fourth quarter before they pulled away for a 35-22 win.


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