Republished from the Columbia Missourian
COLUMBIA – The score was 7-7. The ball was sailing through the air to the corner of the end zone. As time expired in regulation, it looked like Rock Bridge got the finish it wanted: Alex Ofodile was sitting in the end zone with a football in his hands. Unfortunately for the Rock Bridge receiver, the ball hit the ground just seconds before he grabbed it.
The game ended with a different image for the Bruins.
After an overtime field goal by the Hickman Kewpies and a Logan Twehous interception, Bruin seniors Kenny James and Freeman Simmons stood in a tearful embrace, lamenting the 10-7 loss and the end of their high school football careers.
Coach A.J. Ofodile praised the Rock Bridge senior class, which was a class that came in when the program was going through a difficult period.
“It was a down time in our program,” he said. “We had come off a really high time, and they came in after two 1-9 seasons, and they really bought in and worked and fought to lift us back to a respectable level and beyond that.”
“We played some of the toughest teams in the area. We acquitted ourselves well all year, I thought. I thought we never quit, we never gave up, and we got some big wins this season. Nothing you’re gonna tell 17, 18-year-olds to make them feel better after a loss like this, but I’m extremely proud of these guys,” he said.
The Bruins ended the season with a 7-4 record, which A.J. Ofodile is happy with, given the team’s difficult schedule.
“We had a good year,” he said. “With the schedule that we play, we looked at the beginning of the season and said we could easily be 2-8.”
In addition to Simmons and James, the Bruins will be losing All-State tackle A.J. Logan, captains West Wilson, Shelby Wilson and Matt Bush, and defensive end Nate Baldwin.
A.J. Ofodile said replacing important players is nothing new for a high school football coach.
“You feel like that every year. What are we going to do? How are we going to put a team on the field without these guys? It always works out,” he said.