Platte County looked the part of top 10-caliber team stocked with talented returners in its season opener — at least for a half.
Three different defensive backs intercepted Grandview quarterback Marshaun Swift before the Pirates knocked him from the game. Platte County senior running back Mike McNair ran for three 1-yard touchdowns — two coming off of interceptions — and 112 yards total, while half of junior quarterback Justin Mitchell’s completions went for scores in a 36-0 dismantling of the Bulldogs on Friday, Aug. 19 at Pirate Stadium.
With Platte County up 36-0 coming out of halftime, inclement weather approached the area and forced a lengthy delay. Eventually, Grandview opted to end the game early and take the loss rather than finish up the next day, a benefit to the Pirates ahead of a short week to prepare for Oak Park.
“If you can get out of a game without any injuries, which we did, it doesn’t matter if it’s a half, a quarter or a full game,” Platte County coach Bill Utz said. “We saw some good things that we like to see, so we’ll take it. Obviously, the rankings are out there, so we’ve kind of embraced that.
“A lot of people left on our schedule are above us.”
Those other ranked teams don’t appear for another week.
Oak Park (0-1) enters a special Thursday night matchup off of a blowout loss to William Chrisman. The matchup with Platte County will be broadcast on Time Warner Cable with a 7 p.m. start time at the North Kansas City District Activities Complex at Staley High School.
Platte County remained at No. 9 in the most recent Missouri media Class 4 poll, released Tuesday.
Following the Week 2 tilt with Oak Park, the Pirates’ schedule includes Staley (Class 5 No. 2 with three first-place votes), Harrisonville (Class 4 No. 6) and Belton (ranked preseason Class 5 before Week 1 loss) in consecutive weeks. They also finish the season with Class 4 No. 1 Kearney.
Last season, Platte County started 5-0 before a season-ending injury in practice to Mitchell led to a stutter step but ultimately an 8-4 finish with a loss to Kearney in the Class 4 District 8 championship game.
“We’ll be ready when the big schools come,” Platte County senior wide receiver TJ Guillory said.
Guillory ended up making the play to jumpstart Platte County in a somewhat emotionally charged Suburban Conference Blue Division matchup.
On the Pirates’ second drive, a holding penalty wiped out a long McNair run to the goal line, but seven plays later on fourth-and-8, Mitchell found his classmate in the seam for a first down. Guillory juked one defender and went into the end zone for a 26-yard touchdown.
Platte County ended up scoring on five straight possessions then injured Swift on a run play late in the second quarter.
“Our first one usually gets us all hyped up,” said Guillory, who finished with team-highs of three catches for 50 yards. “Whenever we get that first down, we are on a roll from then on. It’s usually good when we get a fast start like that.”
Mitchell completed just 4 of 12 passes but also capped Platte County’s third drive with a 23-yard scoring pass to junior wide receiver John Watts — the first touchdown of his career.
The Pirates were ahead 22-0 with 8 minutes, 17 seconds left in the first half, and Swift threw interceptions on the next two drives. Kobe Cummings, a junior safety, grabbed the first one and returned it 30 yards to the Bulldogs 14, and McNair plowed in from 1-yard out five plays later.
On the second play of Grandview’s ensuing drive, Platte County junior cornerback JP Post grabbed a pick, and McNair and Mitchell covered the 44 yards of the resulting short field on the ground. McNair scored his second touchdown from 1 yard out to put the Pirates up 29-0.
Grandview gained just 98 yards total and went three-and-out in the final drive with Swift at quarterback.
McNair ran for 40 yards on two carries, taking the ball down to the 1, and then scored his final touchdown to provide the final margin. Swift went out on Grandview’s next play, and Platte County’s defense held the shutout that ended up standing.
“We’re going to be a fly-around defense for sure,” said Platte County senior linebacker Austin Shoemaker, who made three tackles (one for loss) in his first career start. “We have some confident players on the field. … We definitely have some things to work on, but we have a really good start.”
Platte County’s defense featured an all-new defensive line with sophomores Peyton Stoner and Glen Gammill making varsity debuts. In addition, junior Sage Smart started at defensive tackle, while junior defensive end Michael Smith assumed a starting role and made six tackles after playing a lot as a reserve last year.
Shoemaker and junior Gavin Hardman were new starters at linebacker, while junior Dakota Schmidt made a team-high nine tackles as the most experienced member of the front seven.
The defensive backfield shined with senior safety Kevin Neal collecting eight tackles in addition to his interception that ended Grandview’s opening drive. The Pirates settled for a field goal try, but junior Parker Lacina’s attempt sailed wide right.
Platte County scored on every possession after that starting with Guillory’s touchdown catch.
The Pirates went ahead 15-0 just four plays after junior safety Kobe Cummings recorded the second interception of Swift, returning the pick 30 yards to the Bulldogs’ 14. McNair capped the short field with the first of his touchdown runs, and senior wide receiver and kick holder Carter Nugent threw a two-point pass to Shoemaker.
The resulting blowout in just two quarters came after Grandview won last year’s divisional matchup in the aftermath of Mitchell’s shoulder injury. The Bulldogs forced five turnovers and tacked on a late touchdown in a 32-12 victory that served as the low point of a three-game losing streak that sank the Pirates in the Blue Division standings.
Platte County improved to 8-2 all-time against Grandview with the only losses in 2015 and 1963.