For Rock Bridge linebacker Joe Whitener, tonight’s contest with Fort Zumwalt West is more than the final game of the season.
It might be the final game of his life.
Whitener is one of 14 seniors on the Rock Bridge roster whose high school football careers will end when time runs out against the Jaguars. He said he doesn’t expect to play organized football again.
Whitener’s hopes of playing a few more games this season were crushed last week in a 35-0 loss to No. 1 Hickman at Memorial Stadium. As a result, the Bruins’ season will officially end tonight and Whitener said he intends to make his last game count.
“Last year, Chase (Patton) and all them won their game, so let’s go out like they did,” he said. “You know, go out with a bang.”
Whitener said he will miss everything about his team, including the long days in the weight room and the sprints he had to run.
Whitener also said he was relaxed going into the third district game.
“There’s really no pressure,” he said. “Just go out there, have fun. Since it’s the last football game you play, just take it for what it’s worth and play as hard as you can.”
Senior Connor Price showed his nostalgic side when he thought about life away from Rock Bridge football.
“I’m gonna miss the whole team,” Price said. “We had a tight team this year. We were really tied together, almost like a family. It’s just really sad knowing that I won’t be able to play with them again.”
Rock Bridge coach A.J. Ofodile said that motivation won’t be a problem for his seniors.
“I think it’s going to mean something to them,” he said. “You look up and there’s no guarantee of ever playing football after that.”
Graduating is something that sophomore quarterback Logan Gray won’t have to think about for awhile. He said he hopes to do his part Friday to help give the seniors a few more good memories.
“A lot of people will never strap on pads again and I think when you’ve been playing football your whole life, it’s probably hard to deal with,” Gray said. “You always want to end the season out strong. We want to do that.”