None of the players on this year’s Rock Bridge football team has beaten Helias. There’s more than that motivating the Bruins, though.
With a win at 7 p.m. Saturday at Helias, the Bruins would win the North Central Missouri Conference. The Bruins (6-0), who haven’t beaten the Crusaders since 1995, won their most recent outright NCMC title in 1994.
Winning a conference title does not advance a team to the postseason, but the Bruins set a goal to win the conference.
“It means a whole heck of a lot,” coach A.J. Ofodile said. “If you’re around this group at all ... we’re a very, very, very prideful group.
“There’s a ton of motivation. I guarantee you that’s kind of the feeling.”
It will also be the last game the Bruins, who joined the NCMC in 1974, will play in the conference.
Vicki Reimler, Rock Bridge athletic director, said the Bruins are leaving the conference because of the difference in enrollment between Rock Bridge and the other schools. Rock Bridge is the only Class 6 school in the conference. Reimler said that Rock Bridge needed to play other schools in Class 6 and Class 5.
Next season, the Bruins will be independent. Rock Bridge will play Helias, Hannibal and Marshall next year and has four open games on its schedule.
Fulton, Hannibal, Kirksville, Marshall, Mexico and Moberly will remain in the NCMC, which began in 1971.
Helias (6-0) will play as an affiliate member, which means it will play all the teams but will not be eligible to win the conference championship.
Rock Bridge and Helias have cruised through the first six games of the NCMC. Rock Bridge’s closest game was a 37-13 win against Moberly on Sept. 12 in the rain.
Helias shared the NCMC title with Marshall last year, and the Bruins shared the title in 2001 with Hannibal and Marshall. The Bruins have won six conference titles outright and shared five others.
Rock Bridge quarterback Chase Patton said beating Helias and going undefeated in the NCMC is plenty of motivation.
“It’s kind of two big things that we’re going after,” Patton said. “It’s just another step. We’re kind of looking at each game as a playoff game.”
The Bruins’ defense has allowed 9.2 points per game. Linebacker Van Alexander, who leads Rock Bridge with 80 tackles, said getting motivated for Helias is no problem.
“We should have all the motivation in the world,” Alexander said.
No team has been able to stop Rock Bridge’s offense, which has outscored its opponents 283-55. Patton is 86-for-127 for 1,377 yards and 19 touchdowns.
The Bruins beat Hannibal 63-14 on Oct. 10, the Bruins’ biggest win of the season. Patton was 20-for-23 for 360 yards and six touchdowns in his best performance of the season.