Rock Bridge football to try to turn season around against rivals Hickman

4 months 4 weeks 2 days ago Thursday, September 26 2019 Sep 26, 2019 Thursday, September 26, 2019 10:08:00 PM CDT September 26, 2019 in Friday Night Fever
By: Liad Lerner, Columbia Missourian

COLUMBIA — Run 573.

That’s been Rock Bridge’s mantra heading into its game against Columbia rival Hickman on Friday. The Bruins want to remain the best team in the 573 area code.

It’s a goal that has been more difficult this season, as Rock Bridge is currently 0-4 and already lost, 21-14, against Battle a few weeks ago. Despite that, it’s a designation that Rock Bridge holds dear to its heart.

“When I walked in (the school), I found T-shirts that said, ‘Run 573,’” coach Van Vanatta said. “I thought it was pretty cool. But until we decide to do what we’re trying to execute, then it won’t matter who we’re playing. People have been telling me this is a big game because it’s a rivalry. Hell, it’s a big game because we’re 0-4 and we’ve got to get something going.”

While the Bruins have played one of the toughest schedules in the state so far, their winless start has left little room for error in the second half of the season. In theory, the schedule gets easier from here on out, but Rock Bridge knows better than to take anything for granted.

“When you’re 0-4, the schedule never gets easy,” Vanatta said. “Teams believe that they’re going to come in and get a win against the Bruins right now.”

Hickman (2-2) is no slouch either. Led by senior quarterback Jevean Brown and coming off an emphatic 40-6 victory against Smith-Cotton, the Kewpies are a much improved team over the one that was shut out 31-0 by the Bruins last year and hasn’t defeated Rock Bridge since 2012.

But quarterback Grant Hajicek says this Rock Bridge team isn’t thinking about streaks or history. The Bruins are trying to get their 2019 season back on track, and the only way to do that is to take it each game at a time.

“We’re not worried about what the Bruins in the past have done,” Hajicek said. “We just want this game for us.”

Vanatta says the key to doing that is having trust in each other, and stepping up and taking responsibility. In practice this week, he told his players that they haven’t been meeting the coaches expectations for the season so far. But their winless record makes that statement obvious.

The coach then asked how many of the Bruin players had set expectations for themselves, in addition to the ones their coaches had for them. According to Vanatta, none of them had.

“I said, ‘Well there’s the key. If you start meeting your expectations that you set for yourself, then things will start working together,’” Vanatta said. “But the thing is that we have to do it together. We have to play as a good team and not as a bunch of individuals.”

Rock Bridge has a golden opportunity to begin turning its season around and running 573 when it faces Hickman at 7 p.m. Friday at Hickman High School.

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