West Platte ended up christening the new Rudolph Eskridge Stadium with a win in the crisp afternoon sun.
Following a short dedication ceremony Friday, Aug. 19 in Weston, Mo., inclement weather forced the postponement of the Bluejays opener against Central Academy of Excellence with the scheduled 7:30 p.m. kickoff coinciding with the arrival of a strong line of thunderstorms.
The game picked up Saturday, Aug. 20, and Kyle Tabaka ran for four touchdowns in a dominating 41-18 win for the home side playing on brand new FieldTurf at its new multi-million dollar facility.
Tabaka’s touchdown runs of 1, 2, 4 and 14 yards accounted for 27 unanswered points spanning the second and third quarters, putting West Platte up 33-6. He finished with a team-high 127 yards on 17 carries from his fullback spot in a new-look offense featuring senior quarterback Nick Miller (7-for-15 passing and 91 yards, 40 yards rushing).
Alec Carson’s interception on the opening possession led to a methodical drive, which sophomore running back Gavin Davis finished off with a 2-yard touchdown run.
Up 6-0, West Platte’s defense then allowed the lone sustained drive of the afternoon. Central marched the length of the field with help from a long run for Issiah Gardner. Javion Shelby, the Eagles’ quarterback, finished the march with a 5-yard run on a busted play off a fumbled snap.
Both teams failed on conversion tries, leading to a 6-6 tie with 6 minutes, 43 seconds left in the first quarter.
After trading turnovers on downs, West Platte struck back with another rugged drive of run plays, and Tabaka punched in from 1 yard out and added a tough 2-point run to give the Bluejays the lead for good. An errant snap on a punt resulted in a short field for Central’s defense to defend, and Miller ran 24 yards on the next play — a designed bootleg run — to set up Tabaka’s touchdown on the next play.
The two touchdowns in a span of 2 minutes gave West Platte a 21-6 lead with 8:30 left before halftime.
A pass interference penalty on a fourth-down play allowed Central another scoring opportunity late in the half, but West Platte held on a goal-to-go series to take the ball back. The Bluejays quickly worked down the field in the final 1:44 to add a fourth touchdown, going into halftime up 27-6 after Tabaka’s 4-yard run.
Central finished with 154 yards rushing and closed within 33-12 early in the fourth quarter on the first of two TD passes for Shelby. The score came off of one of two interceptions Miller threw in his first start. He answered back with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Brayan Rodriguez, who ran for 101 yards while splitting tailback duties with Davis (29 yards on 11 carries).
Miller spread his seven completions between five receivers with Grant Eagen and Carson finishing with two catches apiece.
West Platte hosts Wellington-Napoleon in Week 2 on Friday, Aug. 26 in a recurring matchup for the current Class 1 District 7 rivals. West Platte has gone 4-3 in seven meetings with the Tigers the past four seasons, including a regular season win last year for the Bluejays.
Despite a large cast of new starters, West Platte received votes in the preseason Missouri media Class 1 poll but dropped out of the rankings following the Week 1 win.