Platte County needed a breakthrough from in close. With 1 minute remaining in the first half last Friday, Alex Minter took a handoff and burrowed into the end zone from 1 yard out. The junior running back’s score helped put the Pirates up 27-0 at halftime against William Chrisman at Pirate Stadium, part of a 41-0 win. And boy did Platte County need the shot of confidence. The Pirates lost three fumbles and failed to score on five different series of goal-to-go opportunities, including a trio of tries from the 1 prior to Minter’s touchdown. With an all new offensive line featuring seven different contributors, Platte County managed 457 yards of offense — 288 rushing — but also showed some obvious signs of inexperience against the hapless Bears. “Down there, we failed,” said Minter, who rushed for 42 yards. “It was amazing to just get in there — finally — from the 1.” Platte County and its crop of youthful starters have a chance for the program’s first 2-0 start to a season since 2007 when the Pirates host a familiar and troublesome opponent. St. Joseph Central (0-1) has won three of the meetings in this series during the past four seasons — all decided by 11 points or less with memorable finishes. The Indians scored the final 15 points last year in a 15-12, taking the lead for the first time with 6 minutes to play on running back Derek Gray’s touchdown run. Platte County yielded the final 20 points in a 34-24 loss in Week 2 of the 2012 season. “They’ve been close; they’ve been good games – definitely been good games,” said Platte County coach Bill Utz, whose lone win against Central was a 19-15 triumph in 2012 when Krae Kelso scored the winning touchdown with 10:34 to play. “Looking forward to meeting up with Central. The Suburban Conference with the way the scheduling is the fact that we’ve been on what three cycles together? It works out good location-wise, and we’ve been pretty evenly matched. “The fun thing about Central is they’re disciplined; they know what they’re doing. It’s a pretty good chess match between us.” For the second straight year, Platte County enters the matchup with a 1-0 record coming off a resounding victory against the Bears. The 27-0 lead held up at halftime despite a near disaster following Minter’s score. William Chrisman (0-1) committed a personal foul penalty after the score, and Platte County opted for squib kickoff thanks to the added yardage. Bears junior running back D’Vontae Brown scooped the kick up and raced 92 yards for an apparent touchdown in the second quarter’s final minute, only to have the play called back on another personal foul penalty committed behind the play during the return.
William Chrisman finished with 13 penalties for 140 yards and five turnovers, including a pair of interceptions for quarterback Gannon Ogle – the first returned 31 yards for a touchdown by cornerback Lloyd Lockett to Platte County up 14-0 after only 5 minutes. “We had some things that obviously we need to improve on, but we did see some things we hope to see,” Utz said. “Lloyd is a kid that played all of last year and was kind of right on the verge of making those big plays. It was great to see him get one now.” Despite the healthy advantage, Platte County’s struggles inside the 10-yard line coupled with untimely turnovers kept the score reasonably close. Pirates sophomore running back Michael McNair broke loose on a 55-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter to extend the advantage to 34-0, but William Chrisman did not face a running clock until the final 2:51 following freshman running back Kobe Cummings’ 5-yard scoring run in mop-up time. Platte County also let freshman Parker Lacina try a pair of field goals in the fourth quarter, including one after William Chrisman’s final lost fumble deep in its own territory. McNair finished with a team-high 172 yards on 18 carries before giving way to the reserves. Sophomore quarterback Justin Mitchell added 55 yards rushing and the game’s opening score from 24 yards out, adding 157 yards through the air and another score in his first career start. His 11-of-15 passing accuracy included an 8-yard touchdown to senior Aliek Reed (six catches, team-high 113 yards) on a wide receiver screen in the second quarter. “Throughout the game, I made more of a bond with my brothers on the front line,” said senior offensive tackle Drew Oberle – a transfer from Texas and one of five new starters up front along with sophomores Austin Gammill, Casey Jumps and Derek Kohler and junior Dane Rader. “I definitely felt like they came more together and bonded and got a lot better. “The talent’s definitely there. We’ve got a team coming.” The new-look offensive line, which also includes sophomore Grant Carver and junior Grant Runde rotating in to spell the first unit, hopes to build more confidence against Central, which like Platte County lost an accomplished senior class and features a lot of youth. The Indians trailed Kearney 42-0 at halftime and lost 49-0 last Friday. Mitchell ended with his left leg in a bucket of ice after tweaking his ankle earlier in the game, but he returned after sustaining the minor injury. Utz opted to use caution late with the victory sealed and used Lockett as mostly a running quarterback before giving sophomore Carter Nugent the final snaps under center.