Groundhog Day

Call this football's version of Groundhog Day.

Unfortunately for the Jefferson City Jays, there won't be another chance.

This won't be a best two-out-of-three.

Playing for the second straight Friday night, the Rock Bridge Bruins got even and more --- much more --- as they rolled to a 48-18 devastation of the Jays in the Class 6 District 3 opener at Adkins Stadium.

Same teams, very different results. And a season-ending result for the ninth-ranked Jays (6-4).

"People asked me if playing two straight times would help us or hurt us," Jays coach Ted LePage said. "I think it hurt us, because they saw last week they were bigger and stronger than we were and they used that to their advantage tonight.

"They just imposed their will."

A week earlier, the Jays scored in the first quarter in a wire-to-wire 31-21 win in Columbia.

Friday night, the Bruins scored 2 1/2 minutes into the game and were never headed. And the Bruins did it without starting quarterback Logan Twehous (shoulder injury), who's passed for an eye-popping 2,591 yards and 29 touchdowns this season, and leading rusher Eli Stout.

Instead of using a pass-happy attack (38 attempts last week, 10 this week), the Bruins used the Wildcat formation and racked up 432 total yards of offense.

The Bruins (5-5) had lost four straight and five of six, after climbing to No. 2 in the state after their 3-0 start. Perhaps they should have used the Wildcat all along.

They took the opening kickoff and strolled 80 yards in six plays, with Tarus Moore rushing for 36 yards on the first three plays, before Hayden Johnson tossed a 38-yard touchdown strike to Zach Reuter.

That play kick-started a huge night by Johnson (he's listed as a 6-3, 215-pound tight end), who rushed for three touchdowns and passed for two scores.

The Bruins led 7-3 after one quarter and 28-10 at the half, before the Jays fired their final salvo of the game --- and the season --- to open the second half.

It was a 71-yard, 14-play drive, capped on a 3-yard run by Gabe Marcantonio, who also converted the two-point run to make it somewhat interesting at 28-18 less than four minutes in the second half. (The Jays' points before the break came on a 6-yard run by Denzel Wilson and a 28-yard field goal by Marcantonio.)

But after the eight-point play by Marcantonio --- who rushed for 91 yards and threw for 122 --- the Bruins pulled away with a bang, scoring three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to win by 30.

The Bruins --- who held a 432-320 edge in total yards --- completed just four passes on 10 attempts. Not that impressive, eh?

Those four completions covered 207 yards and produced four touchdowns, including a 71-yard catch and run from back-up QB Karson Ringdahl to Alex Ofodile, son of the head coach.

"They have two big receivers on the outside and when you put your cornerbacks on an island, that's what can happen," LePage said. "All you have to do is throw it up and they'll go get it."

Rock Bridge will play next Friday at Francis Howell Central (7-3), which was a 24-17 winner over Hickman.

Meanwhile, the state-championship drought will now be at least 17 years for the Jays, after the program won nine titles in 19 years from 1976-94, and 10 in 22 years with the championship in 1997.

This season, however, was a success, LePage insists.

"Of all the teams I've coached, I think this one overachieved more than any of them," LePage said. "They're going to look back on this year and be proud of what they accomplished, because they beat some really good football teams.

"They played hard and they were a fun team to coach. They did everything we could have expected."

And there's this:

"We won at every level --- the freshman team was 7-1, the JV/sophomore teams went 11-1," LePage said. "And we were 6-4 at the varsity level with a really young team. They got better every week and you don't normally see that.

"I feel bad for the (14) seniors because they gave it everything they had. They played their butts off this year and I'm proud of them."

Still, for those still clinging to the past ... it won't ever be the same. Not easy for fans to accept, but it is the reality.

It was decades of brilliance that just can't be duplicated.


For Pete's sake, there are no more Groundhog Days.