After his team allowed an average of 325 yards in its four losses last season, Rock Bridge football coach A.J. Ofodile said the Bruins have made stopping the run a priority this season. In their first two games against Class 4 teams this season, they have shown great improvement, allowing an average of 108 rushing yards.
However, when the Bruins host Class 6 Liberty tonight, they will face their biggest test of the season in tailback Jake Jenkins.
In last season’s 33-14 Liberty victory against Rock Bridge, Jenkins dominated the Bruins’ defense, rushing for 217 yards on 29 carries. Jenkins, a 6-foot-2, 195-pound senior, has continued his dominance for the Blue Jays this season with 36 yards per game, including a 334-yard outburst against North Kansas City. Ofodile said he thinks Jenkins could be one of the top tailbacks in the state. He also said that though this game will not make or break the Bruins season, it is important.
“If we win the game, it’s not going to put us in the playoffs, but if we lose it’s not going to take us out,” Ofodile said. “But it is a nice little progress report that will let us know where we are and where we need to be. We feel like they are a really quality team, and if we’re going to be the type of team we need to be, then we need to learn how to beat this kind of team.”
Liberty, which finished 7-3 last season, returns eight starters. Led by Jenkins and a big, physical offensive line, the Blue Jays rely on a power running attack without a lot of huddles.
“Liberty is one of the better running teams in the state,” Ofodile said. “They have been year in and year out.”
Although he isn’t the focal point of the offense, junior quarterback Jimmy Costello has been efficient for the Blue Jays. Last week in Liberty’s 42-0 victory over Fort Osage, he completed 7-of-9 passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns. The Bruins quarterback, junior Logan Gray, had one of his worst career games last season against Liberty. Gray finished 15-of-39 for 254 yards, including a career high four interceptions. Gray said he made some young decisions last year against the Blue Jays, like throwing the ball up for grabs, and he is eager to prove that those decisions won’t happen this time.
“We have a few games on the schedule that we have been waiting for the whole year and this is one of them,” Gray said. “We have been preparing really hard for them and we’ll take our best shot.”