After Rock Bridge football (0-3) lost to Battle last week, the whole team knew something had to change.

“We’ve been lazy in practice,” coach Van Vanatta said after the defeat. “We’re not getting it done. It starts with me and the coaches. We’ve got to figure something out and I’m not going to sleep until we find answers.”

The Bruin players have started taking charge as well. The seniors met up on Saturday afternoon to discuss the team’s mentality and direction for the rest of the season.

They even came up with the idea for the first drill of practice — 1-on-1 drills where you have to beat your teammates to win the drill — in an effort to pick up the intensity.

“No one likes to go 0-3,” quarterback Grant Hajicek said. “We don’t have to turn the whole season around in one game, but just taking it one day at a time. Encouraging guys but also getting on them when they’re not doing their job.”

Vanatta is still trying to erase his side’s mental mistakes, a problem that has plagued Rock Bridge since the start of this season. The Bruins have gotten off to poor starts in each of their three games, trailing 16-7, 50-0 and 19-0 in each game, respectively.

Weeks one and three saw Rock Bridge fight back and make each game come down to the last drive. But both times the Bruins came up just short of completing their comebacks.

“We’re eight to 10 plays away from being 2-1,” Vanatta said.

That’s why he has made it a point to make sure every player is doing their job right on every single play. Rock Bridge’s opponents have been able to take advantage of mistakes so far, and that’s not going to change in another tough clash Friday against Lee’s Summit West (2-1), a team the Bruins haven’t beaten in the last five years.

The Bruins have also been battered with injuries recently, making their lives even more difficult. Linebacker Jaden Lewis is likely out for the rest of the season with a broken ankle, while running back/safety Peyton Carr (hamstring) and wide receiver/cornerback Max Vanatta (knee) are also likely to miss Friday’s game. Multiple players have had to miss practice this week because of stomach flu.

But win or lose against the Titans, Vanatta just wants his team to play the way he knows it can.

“When we all do our job, we’re pretty damn good,” Vanatta said. “I truly believe that if we come together this week and start to mentally focus, I really think there could be a good turn of the season. ”

Rock Bridge takes on Lee’s Summit West at 7 p.m. Friday in Lee’s Summit.

  • Sports reporter, spring 2019. Studying sports journalism. Reach me at, or in the newsroom at 882-5700.

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