Through the first third of the season, the Capital City Cavaliers are off to a perfect start for the second consecutive season. Now comes the hardest part of the schedule.
The middle third of the Cavaliers’ season kicks off tonight with their toughest test yet as they host the Rock Bridge Bruins at 7 p.m. in a Central Missouri Activities Conference matchup.
“I think we just need to keep the ship steady,” Capital City coach Joe Collier said. “I think we were steadying it last week and I think if we keep it steady and keep it going straight, I think we’ll end up where we need to be.”
Last season, the Bruins ended the Cavaliers’ season-opening winning streak at three games with a 35-28 overtime win after the Cavaliers went up 21-3 in the first quarter.
“The opportunity to go 4-0 and understand that we’re capable of that is exciting enough,” Collier said. “Playing Rock Bridge, it’s a conference game so we’re excited about it, there’s no extra there to get focused up. … We’re excited about the opportunity and we want to see where we are at and Rock Bridge is a good test for that.”
Capital City (3-0, 2-0 CMAC) comes in off a 59-16 drudging of the Hickman Kewpies where the Cavaliers ran six plays to score four touchdowns in the first quarter with new starting quarterback Evan Schaffer under center.
Schaffer went on to throw the Cavaliers’ first passing touchdown of the season in the second quarter and lead a sixth scoring drive before being taken out of the game.
“What makes him so special is that, the evaluation piece, if you’re looking at it, you don’t think he’s doing much, but he’s doing a whole bunch,” Collier said. “The way he’s making sure the ball is taken care of and is getting in the right hands is what this offense needs. … We had some breakdowns on the offensive line and he sees it, he’s reading it out and he’s making sure that there’s no disasters from those breakdowns. The kid sees all that happening.”
Schaffer and the Capital City offense that has averaged 45.67 points on 396 rushing yards per game through the first third of the season -- with most of those yards and scores coming from sophomore Jaylen Thomas who has 646 yards and 10 touchdowns -- will face a Rock Bridge defense allowing only 13.3 points per contest.
Rock Bridge (2-1, 2-0) is coming off a 35-27 win against Jefferson City. The Bruins held off a Jay comeback attempt late. The Bruins opened the season with a 13-10 loss against Park Hill South, then shut out Sedalia Smith-Cotton 66-0 in Week 2.
“I think they’ll jump in multiple fronts, their D-coordinator, he’s a really good coach,” Collier said. “He’ll have those guys really sound and not getting out leveraged. It’s gonna be about how well we execute and their front is going to be tested against an offense like ours.”
The Capital City offense will face a front loaded with players listed above 6 feet tall and 280 pounds, but Collier said his offensive line is up to the task of going against larger players.
“The great thing about our offensive line is, they don’t know that they’re not that big,” Collier said. “I don’t think it really crosses their mind that they’re not the same size as the big guy in front of them.”
Jefferson City’s wing-T offense was able to rush for 244 yards against the Bruins last week in their comeback attempt, topping the Bruins’ total yardage of 194.
But the Bruin offense got a bit of a break with the help of Drevyn Seamon’s 92-yard kick return, one of his two touchdowns in the game along with a 29-yard touchdown run to open the scoring in the first quarter.
Collier said Seamon (5-foot-10, 170 pounds) is the main player to watch out for in Rock Bridge’s offense.
“That alone, he runs a 10.7, 100 and it looks fast in film, so I know in person it’s gonna look real fast,” Collier said. “That kickoff he ran back, he didn’t break stride.”
Seamon will receive the ball from junior quarterback Brady Davidson (6-5, 220), who the Bruins have been using in tandem with future Harvard player Sam Keiser. But Keiser is likely out for the matchup after leaving the Jefferson City game early.
Davidson went 5-for-12 for 92 yards last week making him 21-for-34 this season for 379 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.
Rock Bridge’s air raid offense will be a big change from the more run-based schemes Capital City has seen thus far, putting more pressure on the Cavaliers’ secondary.
“They are getting better each week with that,” Collier said of the Cavaliers’ pass coverage. “… This week is gonna be another test, but I think they want to get better and I think this will be a good test for them to try their technique. They just need to trust that technique and their ability and be confident about it.”
With the chance to go 4-0 for the first time in team history, the Cavaliers know this matchup will be a big sign of how close they are to achieving their season goals.
“We have an opportunity to play for something special,” Collier said. “We took good strides last year and I think we can better that.”
Notes: The Bruins lead the all-time series 3-0 with a 76-49 win in 2020, a 43-14 win in 2021 and the overtime win last season. … The Cavaliers received votes in the Missouri Media rankings for the second consecutive week. … Senior Cohen Davis leads the Cavaliers with 26 tackles this season, while senior Landen McNeil and junior Brooks Horton each have 21. Junior Reyce Turner leads the team with 10 tackles for loss, while Davis has a team-high two sacks.