In the days leading up to its Missouri Class 4, District 8 semifinal game, Platte County coach Bill Utz didn’t need to do much to inspire the Pirates.
No fiery pep talks, no motivational ploys. All the Pirates had to do was recall their Oct. 5 game against Liberty North.
On Wednesday at Pirate Stadium, No. 1 seed Platte County took out the frustration remaining from that night, powering to a 35-14 win in a rematch with the No. 5 Eagles, and advancing to Monday’s district championship game against sixth-seeded Smithville.
Contrast that to the meeting 26 days earlier, which the visiting Eagles won 33-22 behind Antwynn Beavers’ 254 yards — a win that dealt Platte County its only Suburban Conference Blue and district losses.
“It didn’t need to be talked about,” said Utz, whose Pirates, 9-2, won the conference and are one of 16 teams left in Class 4. “I think they wanted it. It was something we didn’t have to talk about. It was automatic.”
In the earlier game, the Pirates had fought back from a 14-point deficit to take a two-point lead into the fourth before losing late. This time, Liberty North’s only lead was short-lived as the Pirates answered the Eagles’ opening scoring drive with a pair of touchdown passes to Scottie Wilson from senior quarterback James Valentine to take a 14-7 lead with 8:15 left in the second quarter.
Valentine played a part in all five Platte County touchdowns, completing 14 of 20 passes for 243 yards and four touchdowns. He also added a one-yard scoring run to build the Pirates’ lead to 35-7 when he was pulled after three quarters and with the game out of reach.
“We played more aggressive (than the last game),” Valentine said. “We were playing to win. We attacked them. We brought the fight to them.”
The Eagles, 6-5, had enjoyed a four-game winning streak that started with their Platte County win. The Pirates also hadn’t lost since, giving up just 21 total points in four wins.
On Wednesday, Platte County held the Beavers to 107 yards in 23 carries and forced the Eagles to try to make up the deficit through the air. Quarterback Bryan Sharp went nine of 18 for 202 yards and two touchdowns to Paul Silvio, but the Eagles were unable to score in two drives in which they advanced inside the 10.
Three-plus weeks ago, Liberty North did enough to pull the upset. This time, they Eagles couldn’t
“It looked like they ran the exact same defense as last time — the exact same offense — no adjusting for either of us,” Liberty North coach Ken Clemens said. “They just played better than us tonight.”