Elite football teams usually spar with lesser opponents to start their seasons.
Rock Bridge will kick off its campaign with a heavyweight rematch.
The Bruins will travel to St. Louis tonight to face defending Class 6 state champions DeSmet at 7. Rock Bridge lost to DeSmet 35-14 in last year’s Class 6 state quarterfinals.
“We all definitely have a grudge from last year,” senior tight end Aron White said, “because I remember it hurt really bad to end our season there.”
Rock Bridge coach A.J. Ofodile said this is the type of game the team needs to play.
“In the past, we’ve started off with some games that have probably been more tune-up in nature,” he said. “In this game, we get the chance to get out and see exactly who we are right out of the gate.”
Many experts see Rock Bridge as one of the top teams in the state. Missouri Sports Online has ranked the Bruins No. 2 in its preseason Class 6 poll.
DeSmet coach Pat Mahoney agrees. He said Rock Bridge is one of the three best teams in the state.
Mahoney said it is difficult to prepare for the Bruins’ high-powered offense led by senior quarterback Logan Gray, who has already verbally committed to play at the University of Georgia.
“We try to find as close a match-up as possible,” he said. “We hope they overthrow the ball a lot, I guess.”
Rock Bridge is one of Missouri’s most experienced teams, returning nine starters on both offense and defense. Although Gray, White, senior running back Scott Concannon and other players are featured on national recruiting Web sites, Ofodile said other players deserve attention.
“The real strength of our team is often overlooked,” he said. “I think it’s the strength of our offensive front five and our defensive front four. It’s probably the biggest, most physical group maybe that’s come through this school. Definitely in my time here we’ve never had a veteran group that was this strong, this big and this athletic.”
Rock Bridge’s defensive line will face an inexperienced DeSmet backfield. Although DeSmet lost Class 6 first-team all-state quarterback Tommy Corwin and Gatorade’s 2005 Missouri Player of the Year running back Munir Prince, the team is still strong.
“(The game) is kind of an ESPN kickoff classic,” Mahoney said. “I hope we’re up to it.”
Rock Bridge will have many featured games this season. Only one of its opponents, Jefferson City, had a losing record last year . The Bruins will also leave the state twice, playing Springdale Har-Ber in Springdale, Ark., Sept. 8 and Bishop Gorman in Las Vegas on Sept. 16.
The team’s objective this season is quite simple.
“We want to go all the way,” Gray said. “That’s our goal, and that’s been our goal from day one.”