West Platte seniors Noah Johnson and Reece Bader, current Bluejays, have decided to become Cardinals.
The pair earlier this month signed national letters of intent to play football at William Jewell.
Johnson and Bader both picked the Division II school in Liberty due to proximity to home and quality of education.
“It was one of my few D-II offers but it was the best educational value. It was the best option for me,” said Johnson, who will play linebacker. “I love how personal it is too, there’s only 1,000 students there and a lot of other athletes. There are resources built in to help student-athletes. It’s reassuring to know that you’re going to go somewhere like that.”
“It’s a really good academic school and it’s close to home,” Bader said. “They have nice facilities and I think there’s something special going on there. I just felt more comfortable with William Jewell.”
Bader, a defensive lineman, selected the Cardinals, who play in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, over Lincoln, St. Mary and Baker, among others.
He’s ready for the challenge.
“It’s not like high school, you got everybody out there and they all want to be there,” said Bader, who also played on the defensive line and was the long snapper. “They want to succeed and everybody is striving to be the best that they can be. But me personally I just want to make an impact. If one day I get a shot to go pro or something, that’d be awesome, but right now I’m just trying to do everything I can for William Jewell.”
Johnson, who also made an impact on both sides of the ball while at West Platte, picked William Jewell over Baker, St. Mary’s and Missouri Valley.
“It was basically a dream come true,” Johnson said of signing. “Very few people get to go to college to play football and to continue this experience.”
As West Platte’s quarterback, Johnson threw for 1,053 yards and seven touchdowns, while also running for another 816 yards and 12 touchdowns. Defensively, Johnson led the Bluejays with 120 tackles, 49 more than the second most on the team.
The two West Platte products will make the short trip to Liberty and officially become Cardinals. And they’re looking forward to experiencing that together.
“It’s pretty neat,” Bader said. “Not a whole lot of kids get to play college football, but even fewer get to play with a teammate that they had in high school. It is interesting to have a familiar face around campus doing everything with you.”
“I can’t even describe it,” Johnson said. “It’s going to be nice to have someone around you that you know.”