WESTON, Mo. — West Platte made sure not to let an opportunity slip away.
A late-season shuffle to the Class 1 District 7 standings led to a unique first round matchup. West Platte received a surprise home game and used five first quarter touchdowns — one on special teams and one on defense — to open a big lead in a 57-12 victory over Orrick on Friday, Oct. 20 at Rudolph Eskridge Stadium.
West Platte entered with just one win but snapped an eight-game losing streak against hapless Orrick (3-7).
“We were all kind of expecting to go to Plattsburg, or we didn’t actually where we were going to go,” West Platte senior Grant Eagen said. “We were told there was a chance that we could be anywhere from a three seed to an eight seed so we knew we just had to play good against Lawson, and we did so we got lucky.”
West Platte’s encouraging late season loss to Lawson yielded an opportunity to better last year’s win total.
A second straight difficult season included at least one more highlight with a trip Friday, Oct. 27 to play top-seeded East Buchanan up next. West Platte endured the untimely death of coach Nate Danneman at the end of the last school year and regrouped with emotions still fresh to win the season-opener against Lincoln Prep.
Eight straight losses followed — seven in a second straight winless KCI Conference season — but the early season victory over a Class 3 opponent aided West Platte’s cause.
“It’s nice for our kids, especially for our seniors,” West Platte coach Paul Thomas said. “It’s been a rough year, but I thought we blocked and tackled really well tonight.”
Confidence didn’t waver for West Platte in the district opener.
Gavin Davis — a junior running back scored on a 12-yard run early and then scooped up a blocked punt and returned it 15 yards for quick back-to-back touchdowns, staking the Bluejays to a 14-0 lead. Orrick never recovered, and Davis dialed up a 33-yard touchdown on a halfback pass to senior Aidan Sullivan to make it 21-0.
West Platte senior running back Brayan Rodriguez led the offense with 159 yards on seven carries. He scored a touchdown on a 10-yard run in the first quarter and then an 80-yarder early in the second quarter.
In between, Eagen returned an interception 58 yards for a touchdown in what became a blowout.
“That feels good, and I mean we have a tough conference,” Eagen said. “It’s hard to have, especially as small as we are and as tough as everyone else is, if you don’t play 100 percent every game, you’re not going to win.”
West Platte linemen Cole Whalen (senior) and Thomas Tharp (junior) returned to the lineup to provide a big boost.
Davis ran for 91 yards, closing the first half scoring with his second touchdown run. Up 50-6 at halftime, the Bluejays’ scored again to open the third quarter on a 20-yard run for Davis — his third of the game.
West Platte’s only pass came on Davis’ trick play throw, and junior quarterback Noah Johnson ran for 20 yards on his only carry. He also blocked the punt and grabbed the Bluejays’ other interception.
The task switches again in the matchup with East Buchanan (8-2), which went 5-2 in KCI play and entered the final week with a chance to win the league outright. The Bulldogs won the first matchup this season with West Platte by a score of 36-6 in early September.
“They’re a good football team and well coached,” Thomas said. “They beat us earlier in the year so we’ve got a lot of work to do.”