Two Rock Bridge players will line up across from their friends tonight.
Ryan Washington and Demond Thorpe have several friends playing for Hickman, which the Bruins play at 7 at Hickman.
Rock Bridge (7-1, 0-1) will try to rebound from its first loss while Hickman (5-3, 1-0) looks to set itself up for a Class 6 District 6 championship game against Jefferson City. In the first week of district action, the Bruins lost 28-24 to Jefferson City and Hickman beat Springfield Kickapoo 21-10.
Washington will talk to Kewpies coach Gregg Nesbitt for the first time since telling Nesbitt he was leaving. Washington played for Hickman his sophomore and junior years, but moved into the Rock Bridge district before this school year.
Although Washington traded a purple helmet for green, he still talks to his former teammates but said keeping in touch is tougher.
“It’s kind of hard now that I’m at a different school,” Washington said. “On weekends, if I see them, I talk (to them) and visit.”
Washington’s friends at Hickman include defensive end Josh Sallee, linebacker Adam Perkins, tight end Scott Guthrie and quarterback Blake Tekotte. He said playing against his friends will be different.
“It’s going to be kind of weird just knowing I’ve played with (Hickman) for two years of my high school football,” Washington said. “Then I have to play for a different team, especially when Rock Bridge/Hickman are big rivals, but I’ll be all right.”
Thorpe also has ties to the Kewpies. He had to sit out last season and the first two games this season because of his transfer from Hickman. Thorpe lived in the Rock Bridge school district for the first few weeks of classes, but his family moved into the Hickman district, which meant Thorpe had to sign a transfer to continue at Rock Bridge. He never attended classes at Hickman.
He said most of his friends are from Hickman. Thorpe spends the weekends hanging out with cornerback Cedric Alvis, defensive back Eric Owens, wide receiver Reggie Hatton, linebacker Devin Coleman, lineman Luke Harper and lineman Michael Prince.
Thorpe said they have known one another since attending Blue Ridge Elementary. He also went to Lange and Smithton middle schools, where Thorpe met the rest of his friends.
Although the group talks about each other’s games, it tries to avoid talking about Hickman vs. Rock Bridge. Thorpe said the Hickman players tease him about playing for Rock Bridge and say last year’s game was a fluke. The Bruins defeated Hickman 34-7 to clinch the district title.
Thorpe, who has 26 receptions for 499 yards and four touchdowns, said playing against his friends will be different, but he will be able to forget about it during the game.
“I’ll say, ‘Hi,’ but of course at game time there’s no friends on the field,” Thorpe said. “We’re friends off the field, but not on the field.”
Thorpe played football with most of his group of friends at West Junior High, but has never played against them.
Tonight’s game will likely set up a matchup between Thorpe and Alvis. Alvis is the only returning starter in Hickman’s secondary, and he will cover Thorpe on some plays.
“It’s been talked about for weeks now,” Thorpe said. “The whole season (we’ve talked about) me vs. Cedric, but it’s a little challenge for both of us to see who comes out on top. It will be competitive, but no anger there at all.”