The feud between Hickman and Rock Bridge is by no means old and distantly derived, but that fact doesn’t call for a lack of history in the rivalry. The first time the schools played in football was 1981, and the teams wouldn’t meet each other again until 1994, in which Hickman won in a historic, three overtime game 43-42.
The rivalry lives on in Columbia; however, the annual RBHS-HHS game will not be played on Faurot Field this year, as it has for nine years. Instead, they will play at HHS on Sept. 27 of this year. Pending a decision by the University of Missouri, there is a possibility of a return to Faurot in coming years. If, however, it does not, the annual game will be played at HHS on odd years and RBHS on even years.
Although last year was the final time in the foreseeable future that RBHS and HHS will meet on Faurot, offensive line coach Dan Schufeldt believes it is important for high school players to play in a larger stadium.
“You see the field every Saturday [at MU games], and it looks big, but I don’t think anyone understands the enormity of the stadium until they are down on the field,” Schufeldt said. “I know that with the Providence Bowl the stadium isn’t even half-filled, but it was one of the best experiences of my life.”
There is no doubt that the majority of past players who had their opportunity of playing on Faurot Field cherished the experience.
Quarterback Logan Gray ‘08, who holds the RBHS football record for career passing touchdowns with 59, is one of these past players, looking back fondly on his experiences of success.
“When I played, obviously we were playing Hickman at Faurot Field,” Gray said. “It’s unfortunate that today’s players aren’t able to play there anymore because it’s a great experience for a high school football player to play in a Division I football stadium in front of a large crowd here in Columbia.”
Graduating from the University of Georgia in 2011, and transferring to the University of Colorado to play another season of collegiate football, Gray has returned to Columbia to work as a tutor to student-athletes at the University of Missouri, and to serve as the quarterback’s coach at his high school alma mater, RBHS. As one of the most accomplished quarterbacks in the history of Bruin football, Gray has quite a number of Providence Bowl memories, starting quarterback in the games against Hickman for three consecutive years, from 2004-06.
“My favorite game was in 2005 when we beat Hickman 21-18,” Gray said. “They were coming off of a state championship the year before, and we surprised a lot of people by winning that game.”
There is no doubt that one play will always stand out to Gray, symbolizing the excellence achieved in that game into one small piece of it.
“What I remember the most had to be the first play of the game. I threw a 77 yard touchdown pass to open up the game and that was a little unexpected,” Gray said. “We knew we had a good opening play but obviously we didn’t know that we would score, so it was great that our first offensive play worked out so well.”
One of the things that makes the Providence Bowl so invigorating is the fact that the last three times the Bruins and Kewpies have played, the margin of victory was six points or less. The 33-27 RBHS victory over HHS at Faurot Field in 2011 was one of the best moments of quarterback Bo Bell’s, ‘12, life.
“Faurot Field was crazy. So many people came out, and the crowd noise is so much louder than playing at Rock Bridge,” Bell said. “I wouldn’t change anything about that game, I remember waiting for it the whole summer before it happened.”
Bell finished the game with 166 passing yards, 129 rushing yards and three touchdowns, but his favorite moment was near the end.
“The touchdown we scored to gain the lead in the fourth quarter was huge,” Bell said. “Kenny James [‘13] became wide open on a scat route and scored, that had to be my favorite play of the game.”
While Bell’s success in his high school career may seem to be mostly made up of the 2011 season and that one Providence Bowl, Schufeldt was so prodigious as a lineman himself that he can recount the tales of four Providence Bowls he played in as a student.
“My favorite memory from the Providence Bowl had to be my junior year ,” Schufeldt said. “I remember we scored on four of our five first offensive plays; our running back had around 300 yards, and Hickman didn’t even score; it was an amazing experience.”
Even though four Providence Bowls warrant feelings and nostalgic memories, the 2006 game clearly sticks out as the game he takes pride in the most.
“I remember, another time in that game we were on our own 1-yard line, and the backup running back was in” Schufeldt said. “The quarterback [Gray] called a timeout and brought the starter back in, and he ran 99 yards for a touchdown, and that was pretty much the defining moment for our season.”
Gray looks back fondly at his era of dominance in RBHS football, by setting records and supporting a Bruin team that overthrew HHS as the high school football power of Mid-Missouri. However, Gray claims he doesn’t think about the impact he left on the school nearly a decade ago, but what he is doing to support the school now.
“I’m really grateful to Coach [AJ] Ofodile, who let me come back to the school to help the team by coaching the quarterbacks,” Gray said. “Also, working with [junior] Logan Twehous has been so amazing. He really works hard, and I think he will have a good shot down the road at breaking mine and Chase’s [Patton, ‘04] records so I hope he continues on and aims for those goals.”
All three former players emphasized that if they were to give advice to the Bruins in the Providence Bowl tomorrow, the most important thing would be to relax and enjoy the game.
“I think that it’s really important that each player enjoys their game against Hickman,” Schufeldt said. “It’s something that they will remember for the rest of their lives.”
By Luke Chval