A week ago, Rock Bridge had to finish a rivalry game without quarterback Nathan Dent.

It won’t have to start one without him Friday.

Dent suffered a low-grade concussion following a second-quarter touchdown run in last week’s loss to Battle, Rock Bridge coach Van Vanatta confirmed.

But with the Bruins (3-4, 3-2 Central Missouri Activities Conference) facing another crosstown rival in Hickman (2-5, 2-3), Dent will be back at quarterback.

The Rock Bridge medical staff elected to keep Dent out of the game last week after the second-quarter injury and start the concussion protocol. In the time since, Dent has “already made it through all of his protocols,” Vanatta said, and was cleared to play.

“He’s ready to go,” Vanatta said.

Dent’s been a crucial part of the Rock Bridge offense so far this season. The senior leads the team in passing yards, rushing yards, passing touchdowns and rushing touchdowns.

The problem? Dent has only played quarterback for two full games out of the Bruins’ seven.

If the Bruins want to squash their three-game losing streak, Vanatta said, they need to keep their starting quarterback healthy.

“We’ve got to try and get him through a 48-minute game,” he said. “He’s such an agile runner that he’s gonna take hits, and we’ve got to try to keep him in the game.”

On the other side of the ball, Vanatta said that the most important thing the defense needs to work on is limiting mistakes in tackling and pass protection. Over the team’s losing streak, the Bruins have allowed 119 points.

“We’re still taking baby steps and just trying to do what we can to take care of our business,” he said. “Honestly, I feel there’s been plenty of times this year where the Bruins have been beating the Bruins, and that’s what we’ve got to knock off.”

With their newly formed defense, the Bruins were able to hold Battle’s offense to 26 points. It was the third time this season that Rock Bridge has held a team to fewer than 30 points.

The Bruins have three guaranteed games left, and Vanatta said the most important thing they need to do is get a win and snap their three-game losing streak.

“We have got to get a win in that locker room,” he said. “That’s just for confidence just to get them going, because it’s just been kind of dragging the past couple of weeks.”

  • Rock Bridge Football and Missouri Cross Country beat writer for Fall 2021. Reach me at j.boenitz@mail.missouri.edu, or in the newsroom at 882-5700

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