Though sharing the same road, Hickman and Rock Bridge High Schools are separated by almost 5 miles.
The two programs have provided a thrilling rivalry game many years, a crosstown battle that once took place at Missouri’s Memorial Stadium. This year’s contest is set for Saturday at Rock Bridge. The rivalry has had its fair share of duels, but the outcomes have been lopsided in recent years. The Bruins have come out on top in the last seven outings, with the Kewpies escaping back in 2012 with a 22-21 win.
Some would argue that it really isn’t much of a rivalry at all and that it isn’t competitive. This year’s matchup is a bit different, though. Both teams have lost their last two games.
Rock Bridge is coming into the game looking to continue its annual streak against Hickman and prove that its 4-0 start was not a fluke. On the other hand, Hickman (2-4) is looking for a bright spot in what has so far been a losing season. Here are five things to note ahead of this year’s Providence Bowl.
Jaiden Tandy has been a diamond in the rough for the Kewpies this season. The junior snagged his fifth interception in as many games last time out, one of Hickman’s three picks on the night, but Raymore-Peculiar still rolled to a 56-point haul.
Despite the Kewpies’ success in interrupting routes , they will have to figure out how to contain the run if they want to take down Rock Bridge. All eight of Raymore-Peculiar’s touchdowns against Hickman came via the ground game.
Rock Bridge’s hiatus
The Bruins last took the field Oct. 2 in a 52-28 loss to Liberty. The program confirmed a COVID-19 case ahead of a scheduled game against Battle, resulting in the cancellation of that matchup and the pushing back of the Providence Bowl by a day.
With no in-game action in over two weeks, Rock Bridge could be rusty. Coach Van Vanatta is more optimistic about the break, though, describing it as “a blessing in disguise.”
“We got the opportunity to heal up,” Vanatta said. “We got rid of all those mid-season bumps and bruises.”
Only time will tell if the Bruins’ break was beneficial.
Bruins’ recent defensive struggles
The Bruins have given up a combined 108 points in their last two games, resulting in losses by a combined 56 points.
The Kewpies tend to stay on the ground and not light up the scoreboard, but the Bruins have not had the greatest success this season defending the run. They gave up 475 rushing yards against Capital City in their last win. The defense will have to tighten up for Rock Bridge to secure a victory Saturday.
Kewpies’ run game
Hickman has banked on the success of its stout backfield for its two wins this year. The Kewpies have found most of their offensive success on the ground, and when they haven’t, they’ve lost by big margins.
In order to win, the Kewpies must be able to move the chains with the rush early on. Capital City showed that Rock Bridge can struggle against teams with good rushers, and with the group of guys who can carry the football for Hickman, there is a chance for the Kewpies to punish the Bruins all game long.
Significance of the Providence Bowl
Both teams understand the magnitude of this game. Hickman has virtually nothing to lose but everything to gain. It already has a losing record and has lost this rivalry matchup for seven straight years. The players will come into the game with their heads high, looking to bounce back from their last outing and claim this year’s bragging rights at the Providence Bowl.
The Bruins acknowledged the significance of the game and noted the importance of the matchup still stands.
“This is a rivalry game,” Vanatta said. “It’s been a rivalry game for a long time, even before I got here. It’s pretty cool. In most cases, we’d have a lot of people there, but unfortunately here in Boone County we’re still limited (because of COVID-19 protocols).”
The squads will suit up at noon Saturday as Rock Bridge welcomes Hickman onto its home turf.