Platte County senior defensive end Jaydon Walls wraps up a Ruskin ball carrier Friday at Ruskin High School in Kansas City, Missouri. TODD NUGENT/PC Preps Extra

Platte County hopes drubbing of Ruskin starts momentous push to postseason

Shaking off loss to Smithville, Pirates dominate start to finish, allowing -40 yards of offense and tying state record with three safeties to complement efficient offense.
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Platte County needed Friday’s business trip. After a brutal opening stretch to the season, the Pirates finally enjoyed a full blowout and the corresponding shot of confidence from decimating an opponent start to finish.

Platte County freshman defensive end Archie Wesley tries to bring down a Ruskin ball carrier Friday at Ruskin High School.

A 62-0 shellacking of Ruskin featured a nearly perfect night for Platte County’s quarterbacks with senior Jared Parsons going 7-for-7 for 65 yards and two scores and junior Dylan Zimmerman adding a 3-for-3 line for 47 yards and two more scores. The Pirates were even better on defense, nearly setting a state record for least amount of yards allowed in an 11-man game and tying the state record for the second time in two seasons with three safeties in a game.

Platte County (4-2, 3-1 Suburban Conference Blue Division) recorded its second shutout in three games and moved back up to No. 7 in the Class 5 Missouri Media poll, two points ahead of 2020 Class 4 state champion Helias, quickly shrugging off the previous week’s disappointing 20-10 loss to rival Smithville.

“Sometimes you need a game like last week vs. Smithville; it kind of opens your eyes up a little bit,” Parsons said. “This week was more of a rebuttal week, come out and focus on ourself and do the things we needed to do and keep going and build. We’ve got four weeks to clean up for the playoffs.”

Ruskin (1-4) finished with -40 yards of total offense on 34 plays, but 16 in the second half helped the Eagles avoid a piece of forgettable history. The negative yardage ranks second according to the Missouri State High School Activities Association record book for least amount in an 11-man game (-46 for KC Northeast against Lincoln Prep in 1985).

Platte County senior linebacker Trevor Scott, right, and junior defensive end Chandavian Bradley pressure the quarterback against Ruskin on Friday at Ruskin High School.

In addition, Platte County recorded three safeties — two on snaps over the punter’s head and another when senior defensive end Jaydon Walls wrapped up Ruskin running back Joseph Hathaway in the end zone early in the second quarter. The Pirates actually tied Rockwood Summit’s 2019 record less than a year ago with three safeties in a Week 8 shutout of Raytown South on a windy Saturday afternoon before equaling it again on Friday.

“This one was huge for us, just to build a little bit of confidence back, have some fun,” Platte County senior safety Landon Fulk said. “Every single week, we have goals … and every week the goal is to score at least once once on defense. Whatever we can do it, we find a way.”

The blowout results offered a chance for many firsts.

Platte County junior defensive end Chandavian Bradley, one of the nation’s top 2022 collegiate recruits, returned a fumble 4 yards for the first touchdown of his career, while freshman linebacker Darrell Smith and senior defensive back Parker Hall recorded their first fumble recoveries. On the offensive side of the ball, Pirates freshman running back Dayton Doll scored his first touchdown on a 1-yard run early in the second half, while senior tight ends Brody Fulk and Chandler Steinmeier notched the first receptions of their seasons and careers.

Platte County senior tight end Brody Fulk hauls in a pass against Ruskin on Friday at Ruskin High School.

A converted linebacker, Brody Fulk caught a 1-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Garin Walton (1-for-3, 1 yard) right before halftime, and Steinmeir came up with a 25-yard catch-and-run touchdown in the fourth quarter from Zimmerman to account for the game’s final score.

Platte County sophomore Gage Fulk also successfully hit both second half extra point tries after the Pirates’ last two touchdowns.

“Chandler, he’s worked his butt off day in and day out. He’s never really had his opportunity so yeah, to see him get a touchdown, that was awesome,” Landon Fulk said. “Dayton, he’s a freshman. You don’t get that opportunity as a freshman — if at all — so that’s sweet. It was dope to see everyone ball.”

With Ruskin completing just one pass and managing only two first downs, Platte County’s defensive numbers were limited. In fact, Pirates senior linebacker Trevor Scott didn’t record a stat for the first time since the middle of his freshman season before becoming a full-time starter.

Smith led Platte County with four tackles (four for loss), while Bradley had three tackles (one for loss). Other players accounting for stops behind the line of scrimmage included Walls (two tackles, three for loss), junior reserve linebacker Cameron Dean (two), senior linebacker Blaine Keuhn (one), senior safety Cade Fowler (one), sophomore defensive tackle Kohry Woessner (one) and freshman defensive end Archie Wesley. Pirates sophomore defensive lineman Tucker McDowell added 1½ sacks, while senior Grant Kingery took the other half.

Platte County junior wide receiver Carter Salzman hauls in a touchdown pass against Ruskin on Friday at Ruskin High School.

“It’s always fun to have a great defense,” Parsons said. “I love watching them.”

The two teams played nearly the entire first half on Ruskin’s end of the field. The Eagles didn’t have a single first down until after halftime.

Following an initial forced three-and-out, Platte County senior running back Ben McDaniel (seven carries, 38 yards) finished a short scoring drive with a 12-yard touchdown run. Less than 2 minutes later, the Pirates’ lead increased to 9-0 with a safety on a punt snap out of the end zone, and after a failed onside kick, Parsons needed just five plays to engineer another touchdown drive that concluded with a 17-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Carter Salzman (three catches, 29 yards; one carry, 17 yards).

Platte County’s lead increased to 23-0 when junior running back Nate Walls (five carries, game-high 50 yards) rumbled for a 17-yard touchdown up the middle on the final play of the first quarter.

Walls dropped Hathaway 3 yards deep in the end zone on a third-and-23 from the 1 three snaps later to make it 25-0, and Parsons hit senior wide receiver Cole Rhoden (two catches, 19 yards) for a 14-yard score on the ensuing drive, bringing to an end the night for most of the offensive starters.

Platte County junior defensive end Chandavian Bradley returns a fumble for a touchdown against Ruskin on Friday at Ruskin High School.

“I feel like we just came out and everybody did their jobs,” Parsons said. “The o-line stepped up, ran the ball a little bit, and it opened up some other things. I feel like everybody played well, and we were crisp and clean.”

Bradley’s 4-yard fumble return for a touchdown came a minute later, and Zimmerman took the next offensive drive for Platte County after another three-and-out for Ruskin. He completed a 14-yard touchdown to junior wide receiver Tristan Magnuson, who finished with two catches, 19 yards and recorded a receiving score for the third time in four games — the first three of his career.

Zimmerman’s two touchdown passes were the first of his career, the first to Magnuson increasing the lead to 46-0.

“It’s huge,” Parsons said. “You don’t get another experience like this. For him to be able to go out there, play the way he did and get those balls off and get his first two touchdown passes, it’s pretty cool.”

The final safety came on another errant punt snap Ruskin covered in the back of the end zone, but the Eagles also ended up on top of the ensuing pooch kick up the right side to put the ball in Platte County territory for the first time. The Pirates held and took a 48-0 lead into halftime, shortly after Walton hit Brody Fulk for his 1-yard catch.

Platte County freshman running back Dayton Doll breaks a big run against Ruskin on Friday at Ruskin High School.

Platte County actually elected to kick off to start the third quarter but quickly forced another three-and-out. After an initial first down for the Pirates, Doll received his first carry on first and 10, and he went over the left side for a 29-yard gain before being pushed out at the 2.

After Zimmerman kept the ball on first and goal and gained only 1 yard, Doll went over the left side again for a touchdown and a 55-0 lead, much to the delight of his teammates on the field and the sideline.

Platte County would only end up with three second-half possessions, the last two coming after the fumble recoveries for Smith and Hall.

After Smith’s, Zimmerman hit Steinmeier in the right flat, and the former offensive and defensive lineman showed his track speed in beating the defense up the sideline for an easy touchdown. The Pirates nearly ended up with a penalty due to the wild celebration for the senior’s rare opportunity.

Three plays later, Hall recovered a fumble, and Platte County sophomore running back Grant Archibald’s 15-yard run inside the 10 allowed the Pirates to kneel out the victory. He totaled 12 yards on four carries, while junior running back Quintin Rivera received three attempts for 4 yards.

Platte County senior tight end Chandler Steinmeir runs upfield for what would be a touchdown after making a catch in the second half Friday against Ruskin.

Platte County junior wide receivers Dayne Wimberly and Dom Spears rounded out the pass catcher, each recording one reception for 10 yards.

“We kind of challenged them to start early and continue it, and they did that,” Utz said. “It was fun to see the older guys be able to support the younger guys, as well. It was good all the way around. I think the defense played tremendously; the offense capitalized. It was a good one to kind of get it out of the way and get ourselves back on track a little bit.”

Platte County also kept the offensive line of senior Joe Nicholson (left tackle), senior Caleb Kelley (left guard), senior Connor Harmon (senior), junior Braden Parker (right guard) and sophomore Muyonta Maxwell (right tackle) intact, but they also came out early. The Pirates now turn the attention to a homecoming matchup with Winnetonka (4-2, 3-1 Blue Division), which lost 42-14 last Friday.

There’s a big chance for Platte County to continue the momentum after the difficult start to the season. The Pirates lost the season-opener to undefeated Class 6 No. 8-ranked Park Hill South, recovered with conference blowouts of Kearney (35-3) and Grandview (24-7) plus a shutout of Class 5 District 8 rival North Kansas City (29-0) before the Week 5 loss to Blue Division favorite and Class 4 No. 1-ranked Smithville (6-0, 4-0).

After Winnetonka, Platte County runs into winless Raytown South and Lansing, a Kansas foe sitting at 2-3. 

Platte County senior running back Ben McDaniel takes on a Ruskin defender on Friday at Ruskin High School.

“I feel like the rest of our games until the playoffs we’re going to try to come out and focus on ourselves more,” Parsons said, “just kind of be crisp and clean and build that confidence we need for the playoffs.”

Platte County needs some unlikely help to have a shot at a share of a conference title with Smithville and still trails Fort Osage (5-1) in the Class 5 District 8 standings. The Indians currently hold the top spot with 39.83 points.

Platte County sits second at 39.60 and might need Fort Osage to lose to Blue Springs South this week to have a shot at the top spot and the accompanying first round bye. However, the standings have plenty of intrigue right now with North Kansas City (3-3, No. 4) and Staley (1-4, No. 5) having fallen behind William Chrisman (3-3, No. 3) in the pecking order at this point.

Oak Park (2-4) and St. Joseph Central (1-5) round out the seven-team standings after Week 6.

“We know we need to take care of business just to be hitting on all cylinders toward the end,” Utz said. “We needed this one to build on the next one and so on and so forth and then we’ll see what happens with everyone else.”

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