FAUCETT, Mo. – West Platte’s search to discover an identity continued in what turned into another disappointing loss.
Coming off two Class 1 District 7 titles in the past three years, the Bluejays faced a difficult task after losing so much from the 2015 quarterfinal qualifier. The job became more difficult with injuries and the resulting position shifts piling up in recent weeks.
West Platte jumped to an early lead against Mid-Buchanan but ended up on the wrong end of a 45-29 final score Friday, Sept. 30 at Mid-Buchanan High School. The Bluejays have little time left after a sixth straight loss, but coach Nate Danneman offered a succinct answer to where he hopes his team will be when District 7 play starts later this month.
“Playing,” he said with a laugh. “We’ve got to get through these next two weeks and just stay healthy, and if they offer us to play first round, we’ve got to play a game.”
Of course, West Platte will have a first round game under Missouri’s current playoff system.
The Bluejays dropped to 1-6 after opening the season with a win against Central Academy of Excellence but have now plummeted to No. 6 in the eight-team district standings behind fifth-place North Platte (2-5) and fourth-place Plattsburg (1-6). The obvious opportunity to move back up after a recent skid that includes losses to potential district opponents East Buchanan, North Platte and now Mid-Buchanan arrives this week.
West Platte hosts Plattsburg on Friday, Oct. 7 with a chance to gain a tiebreaker edge over the Tigers.
In two of the past three games, West Platte scored at least 20 points, and Kyle Tabaka’s 8-yard run early against the Dragons gave the Bluejays a quick 7-0 advantage. Three touchdown runs from Stetson Brant turned that into a 19-6 halftime deficit, and Mid-Buchanan’s quarterback added another score early in the third quarter to make it 25-6.
“We played pretty decent,” Danneman said. “The kids were firing off the ball hard, and we were getting some positive carries.”
The offense couldn’t keep up sustained drives, and Brant ended up with six of Mid-Buchanan’s seven touchdowns, throwing for a pair of scores in the second half.
Tabaka, West Platte’s senior fullback, finished with just 29 yards on nine carries, but Gavin Davis (110 yards) and Brayan Rodriguez (103 yards) benefited from his blocking for their best combined performance of the season. Nick Miller, the Bluejays senior quarterback, struggled again to consistently complete passes, finishing 5-for-14 for 37 yards while still playing without top receiver Grant Eagen, lost to a torn ACL in a Week 2 loss to District 7 standings leader Wellington-Napoleon.
West Platte has continually adjusted since with other key players becoming banged up along the way.
“It’s been rough, we’ve had kids out here, and there and it’s just hard to keep them focused,” Danneman said. “That’s what a lot of our issue is on the offensive side of the ball is because we’re having to keep moving kids to different positions.”
The frustrations for West Platte came out late in the first half.
Trailing 19-6, an offensive pass interference penalty negated a long completion that could’ve set up score to close the gap. Instead, the Bluejays’ coaching staff received an additional 15-yard penalty while arguing the call that helped shut down the drive.
West Platte didn’t score again until Davis’ 7-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to close within 25-12. Brant led three more scoring drives to increase the lead to 33 points before Davis added a second 7-yard touchdown run and Noah Johnson ran in from 5 yards out.
After the final two scores, West Platte converted two-point conversions to reduce the final margin of victory but nothing for the result.
“Proud of their effort tonight,” Danneman said. “The kids played hard, and we had a lot of adversity out there tonight with things going on left and right, flags, penalties but that’s a whole other issue. We need to be able to bounce back from things like that and continue on playing.”
East Buchanan 40, North Platte 6
The Panthers lost a second straight in a trip to Gower, Mo. on Friday, Sept. 30, and their tour of the top teams in the KCI continues this weekend.
Now at 2-5 on the season, North Platte has losses to Lathrop (5-2) and East Buchanan (5-2) each of the past two weeks with a home game against Hamilton (7-0) set for Friday, Oct. 7. The Panthers close the season with another chance at a victory in KCI play at Plattsburg on Friday, Oct. 14 – a win that could also boost their chances at hosting a District 7 game.
North Platte is 1-4 so far in the KCI with the lone win against West Platte two weeks ago.
East Buchanan scored the first 40 points last week, and the Panthers have now been outscored 86-6 the past two weeks after the emotional rivalry win. The Bulldogs limited yardage and then took advantage of short fields, gaining just 278 yards on offense.
North Platte committed three turnovers.
Ben French, the Panthers’ leading rusher, finished with 53 yards on the ground and a 13-yard score in the fourth quarter for their first points since Week 5. Austin Snook attempted 32 passes and completed 14 for 111 yards. Hunter Hendricks and French grabbed four passes each while fullback Remington Wilson totaled 34 yards receiving on two grabs, but overall, North Platte averaged just 8.4 yards per completion.