Another tough conference opponent for Bulldogs.

It sounds like a broken record for the winless Rolla High School football team.

But the Bulldogs have another steep Ozark Conference mountain to climb tonight.

Rolla travels to Springfield tonight to take on state-ranked Springfield Hillcrest in league play. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

It will be Senior Night for the Hillcrest Hornets.

The Bulldogs come in still searching for their first victory, as they are 0-7 both overall and in the conference.

Hillcrest is 5-2 and is one of three Ozark Conference teams ranked in this week's state poll. The Hornets are No. 9 in the Missouri Class 4 state rankings while in Class 5 Springfield Kickapoo is tied for No. 5 and Camdenton is No. 9.

Last week Rolla dropped its homecoming game to Springfield Glendale 36-21 while Hillcrest thumped Springfield Parkview 55-24.

RHS head coach Willie Howard says the No. 1 priority for the Bulldogs tonight is to keep the Hornets from getting loose in the open field.

"This group is probably the most athletic group in the conference," said Howard, whose team was outscored by Hillcrest 34-20 last year. "Matt Rush and Juwan Johnson make quite a pair on offense.

"Our goal is for our linebackers and defensive linemen to execute their responsibilities and keep the gaps covered to keep them pinned in."

The senior duo of Rush at quarterback and Johnson at running back or wideout is indeed one of the most potent 1-2 punches in the OC.

Rush, a former standout receiver at Waynesville before transferring to Hillcrest two years ago, took over as the Hillcrest starting QB this fall.

Rush has hit on 61-of-109 passes for 772 yards with five interceptions and eight TDs. On the ground he has rushed for 1,003 yards on 120 carries (8.4 yards-per-carry) and 10 TDs.

Johnson has rushed 99 times for 992 yards (10.0) and 14 touchdowns and has caught 19 passes for 241 yards and two more scores.

Senior wideout Darnell Green-Beckham, brother of current Mizzou standout Dorial, has 18 Hillcrest receptions for 241 yards and two TDs.

As a team the Hornets are averaging 39.3 points per game while allowing an average of 23.1.

Defensively the Hornets run a five-man front and like to create stunting and blitzing pressure.

Senior free safety Stanley Murphy has 52 solo and 79 total tackles to lead Hillcrest while senior linebacker Jake Beam has 43 solos and 53 total; junior defensive back Deaunte Clayton 52 total tackles and three interceptions and Johnson, also a defensive back, has three interceptions.

"They're very aggressive defensively," Howard said. "Their main objective is to get the ball back to their offense quickly."

Rolla is averaging 14.0 points while giving up 36.4.

Junior running back Andy Satulla continues to pace the RHS offensive attack with 938 rushing yards and six TDs while making 13 receptions for 184 yards.

Bulldog sophomore quarterback Kyle Morris has hit on 56-of-130 passes for 623 yards, four interceptions and four touchdowns. Senior wideout Jared McBride has 12 catches for 137 yards.

Senior defensive back Joe Drallmeier leads the RHS defense in tackles.

Howard stresses that with the new playoff format instituted a year ago in Missouri, Rolla still has time to turn around the season and make a playoff push.

"That's what we've preached to the kids," he said. "We've just got to get it right come district time. The kids have just got to keep fighting to get better each week."