Brooke Zenner committed so long ago, the Platte County senior didn’t put to rest the nagging doubts until officially signing with Missouri State to continue her soccer career.
“It’s been just a long time of not knowing if what I did was right since I committed junior year,” Zenner said, “because I wasn’t sure what I wanted to go into, what I wanted to do with my life. Once I signed that paper, I knew I made the right choice, that Missouri State was where I belonged.”
Signed since national signing day last month, Zenner shared a signing day ceremony with fellow soccer signee Baylor Cox, four senior football players and cheerleader Maddi Hayes on Wednesday, Feb. 24 at Platte County High School.
Zenner joins three others from the Kansas City area on Missouri State’s 2016 recruitment list. A four-year starter, Zenner enters her senior season with career totals of 45 goals and 21 assists, including career-highs of 20 and 16 last year to earn honorable mention honors on the Class 3 Missouri State High School Soccer Coaches Association all-state teams.
Often deployed as a solo forward at Platte County, Zenner will likely transition to a role as an outside defender at Missouri State, a position she often plays at the club level.
“I’m looking forward to having a different role on a team,” Zenner said.
Also known for his scoring prowess during a standout four-year career, Cox signed with Coffeyville (Kan.) Community College, hoping to transition his play there to a Division II school down the road. He ended his career with 58 goals (26 this past fall) and 22 assists (14 this past fall).
Cox earned first team all-region, all-district and all-conference honors after moving into a role as a featured forward. He expect to play left midfield and some forward at Coffeyville — remaining in an attacking role.
“I didn’t quite have the GPA to go anywhere bigger,” Cox said. “I had visited Coffeyville a few months ago, and it just kind of clicked. I felt that was my place to go, and they think they can get me somewhere else to the bigger stage.
“My main thing is actually to focus on my grades. I know soccer will be fine.”
Platte County seniors Lloyd Lockett (Lindenwood), Christian Encarnacion (Graceland), Dane Rader (Benedictine) and Conner Welch (Iowa Western Community College) all celebrated their choices after a year of shuffling for the Pirates on the football field.
Three of Platte County’s four players to sign last week switched sides of the ball during the Pirates’ 8-4 season that ended with a loss in the Class 4 District 8 title game to Kearney.
“I’m really glad to see everyone went where they wanted to go,” Rader said. “Everybody will get to play what they really want to play even though during the season we had to play what was best for the team. Now we get to do what’s best for us.”
Lockett will join the Division II St. Charles, Mo. school as a defensive back after a tumultuous final season that saw him move from defense to quarterback due to injury. He played five games on defense and finished with 14 tackles and two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown in a blowout against Ruskin.
After a 5-0 start, Platte County junior Justin Mitchell suffered a broken collarbone in practice, and Platte County coaches replaced him by moving Lockett to quarterback. He finished 55-for-118 passing with 545 yards and four touchdowns to go with 397 yards rushing and three more scores.
The Pirates went 3-4 in his seven starts.
A three-year starter, Locket also had two interceptions and a touchdown on defense as a junior.
Encarnacion didn’t move spots, starting 11 games at middle linebacker and finishing with 58 total tackles (fifth-best on the team). He also had two tackles for loss and two fumbles forced in his second year as a starter.
Rader and Welch both spent time on the offensive line for Platte County this season.
A second-year starter, Rader (6-foot, 290 pounds) started the season at defensive tackle, missed three games due to illness and returned to split time between both lines. He had 19 tackles (two for loss) and one sack on defense but played only part time there while starting at offensive guard late in the season.
A transfer student from Iowa, Welch began his first and only season at Platte County at offensive tackle but mostly played outside linebacker by the end of the year, a part of a massive transition following Mitchell’s injury.
Welch finished with 25 tackles (five for loss), one sack and one fumble recovered. He and Rader helped block for an offense that accrued nearly 2,000 yards rushing and more than 1,600 passing despite the upheaval following Mitchell’s season-ending injury.
Lockett, Encarnacion, Rader and Welch were all honorable mention All-Suburban Conference Blue Division selections on defense.
“It’s just crazy to think freshman year we came in and didn’t know each other that well,” Rader said. “Just how close we got each day this summer — four summers, every year. I’m really glad Conner came in here, too. We took him in, and it’s a brotherhood that can’t be broken.”
Hayes signed a cheerleading scholarship with Ottawa (Kan.) University.