When Hickman plays Rock Bridge tonight at Faurot Field, several standouts return to the game for each side. Logan Gray and Aron White will be back for Rock Bridge, and Byron Bundy and Derrick Smith return for Hickman.
New faces will play a role in tonight’s game, too: a star defensive end, a role-playing wide receiver and a first-time head coach.
Chris Mason is a budding star for the Hickman Kewpies. He is a high-energy defensive end who can single-handedly disrupt an offense, and he is a junior. Tonight will be the first time he squares off against Rock Bridge.
Mason had to sit out last season because he transferred from the Rock Bridge district to the Hickman district. After being a spectator last season, Mason said he is excited to play in front of the large crowd that will be on hand.
“It means a lot to me, because last year...I had to sit on the sideline and cheer them (Hickman) on,” he said. “I just remember the intensity and how it felt to be a part of that. I was really excited and looking forward to playing this year. I’m ready to get out there.”
Mason said he realizes how important the game is for the community, and that his mother has even been trying to pump him up a little more this week.
Tim Gross is a senior wide receiver for the Rock Bridge Bruins. He is not a starter, but he plays in multiple wide receiver sets. Tonight will be the first time he will see action against Hickman.
Gross said he has heard some chatter around town this week, but he and his Rock Bridge teammates are approaching Hickman as they would any other team.
“We kind of push it (the buzz) by the wayside,” Gross said. “I think that everybody (the team) wants to play better so everybody (the community) can see. But it’s not like we are playing harder than we would if we were playing any other team.”
This is Jason Wright’s first year as Hickman’s head coach, but he has been a part of the “big game” in the past as Hickman’s defensive coordinator.
Wright’s promotion has not changed his view on the game. He understands the significance, but for him, this year’s game means just as much as last year’s game did.
“It doesn’t change at all,” he said. “I’ve been around this game long enough to know that it is going to be extremely emotional. It is going to be a big-time atmosphere. Just because I’ve put on a new hat, that doesn’t change anything for me.”