West Platte continued its monstrous rushing attack in the wake of the injury to quarterback Cody Guthrie. The Bluejays piled up 543 yards on the ground in a 67-24 win against Wellington-Napoleon in a Class 1 District 7 semifinal on Friday at Rudolph Eskridge Stadium in Weston, Mo. Justin Rhodes, Ben Heili, Brett Shepardson and Guthrie each eclipsed the century mark for the top seed.
Heili took the reins under center after Shepardson started at quarterback last week. Guthrie broke his non-throwing hand in the final week of the regular season during a 24-6 loss to Lawson and has since moved to running back, unable to take snaps with the cast.
“The injury to Guthrie has changed what we do some,” West Platte coach Nate Danneman said. “We are still finding ways to get the ball in his hands. Ben Heili has done a real good job of playing QB and managing the game for us. Guthrie is a football player and will do anything he can for the team.”
West Platte led 41-24 at halftime but proceeded to pitch a shutout in the second half to secure a fourth win in two seasons against the Tigers.
Rhodes finished with a game-high 133 yards on 12 carries with two scores, a 29-yarder and 6-yarder that both came in the first quarter. Shepardson added four scores on the ground to go with his 115 yards.
Guthrie (two TDs, 109 yards) and Heili (one score, 131 yards) rounded out the 100-yard performers. Heili also contributed a touchdown through the air, a 52-yard bomb to tight end Conner Salmons in the second quarter. The stand-in quarterback completed two passes — both to Salmons — on four attempts.
“We need to continue to put up great rushing numbers it helps set up our play action and wears out the other team,” Danneman said. “In order for us to go further (in the playoffs), the run game has to be on point.”
The win advances West Platte to the Class 1 District 7 championship game Nov. 7 at Plattsburg with the Bluejays seeking a second straight playoff berth. The Tigers defeated West Platte 40-26 in Week 8 of the regular season to nab the district No. 1 seed and the right to host.
West Platte turned the ball over four times in the loss and allowed Plattsburg senior tailback Le’Aaron Hicks to accrue 211 yards rushing.