WESTON, Mo. — For the fourth straight year, West Platte opened the season with a win, and the Bluejays can now shift the focus to avoiding a repeat of 2016.
West Platte overcame a disastrous start to an emotional game with a big comeback, scoring three times in the second quarter against Lincoln Prep on Friday, Aug. 18 at new Rudolph Eskridge Stadium. The run game piled up more than 200 yards behind running backs Gavin Davis and Brayan Rodriguez and junior Noah Johnson, making his first start at quarterback.
Prior to the game, West Platte held a moment of silence for coach Nate Danneman, killed in a car crash this past April. Tabitha Danneman, his widow, came onto the field prior to the game and hugged each player as they entered for the pregame.
West Platte went 1-9 in what ended up as Danneman’s final season in charge. Paul Thomas, a longtime friend who previously hired Danneman as an assistant during a stint at Marshall, took over the program amid difficult circumstances in the wake of the tragedy.
Taking the opening kickoff, Davis lost a fumble on the return, leading to Lincoln Prep’s initial touchdown. The Blue Tigers added a second touchdown early in the second quarter and led 14-0.
West Platte’s defense found its footing in the second quarter, and the Bluejays scored on three consecutive possessions.
Johnson opened the second quarter scoring for West Platte with a 3-yard touchdown run, and stops on the next two Lincoln Prep possessions also led to scores. Rodriguez, a senior, dashed in from 15 yards out for the second touchdown, and Johnson hit senior wide receiver Grant Eagen with 19 seconds left before halftime for a 16-yard score.
Davis, a junior, converted two two-point conversion attempts, and West Platte went into halftime up 22-14.
Johnson ended up with 37 yards rushing while the touchdown was his only completion of the night on three attempts. Davis ran for 125 yards and Rodriguez 86 in their first game as a featured pair after splitting time at tailback in 2016.
West Platte didn’t trail in the second half.
Lincoln Prep cut the deficit to 22-20 early in the third quarter, but Davis’ first of two touchdown runs — this one from 6 yards out — plus a two-point run for Rodriguez put the lead at 30-20. Lincoln Prep again scored first in the fourth quarter, but Davis’ 57-yard run in the fourth quarter capped the scoring.
Incidentally, Lincoln Prep was the last team to beat West Platte in a season-opener — a 21-20 win in 2013. The Bluejays played Central Academy of Excellence in Week 1 each of the past two years, including a rout last year that ended up as their only win.
West Platte continues the nonconference schedule with a trip to Wellington-Napoleon this week — a matchup of Class 1 District 7 rivals. The Tigers have won each of the past two meetings between the two teams, including a 36-7 blowout last season.
Wellington-Napoleon is 1-0 after a big win vs. Lone Jack on Friday.