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Pirate notes/quotes by GH

by Greg Hall
Landmark columnist

Game notes and quotes from Platte County’s 21-14 comeback win over a very good Odessa Bulldogs team.

•Platte County’s kicking game is better than a lot of college teams. Aaron Bernard punts left-footed meteors that fall from the sky like wounded geese. Nick Jaros missed his only two field goal attempts but both were barely wide of the mark. Jaros’ kickoffs almost always sail deep inside the opponent’s five-yard line. The Pirates also cover kicks like they haven’t eaten in weeks and the kick returner is an 18-ounce prime rib. Sean O’Connor hits like a man who is unconcerned about preserving the four teeth that somehow have managed to remain in his head. The Pirate kicking game is a huge advantage at the high school level.

•Odessa did a very nice job of putting heat on Chris Hawkins and making him throw the football in a hurry. After he tossed a critical interception in the second quarter that led to a 14-7 Odessa lead, Chip Sherman decided to keep the ball on the ground throughout most of the second half. “We decided to let our strong legs win it,” said Sherman. If Platte County has a weakness, it’s Hawkins’ lack of experience in a crumbling pocket.
•Speaking of strong legs, are there two tougher backs in the state than Matt Prout and Aaron Bernard? Name me another school where the two best running backs line up in four-point stances as nose tackles on the defensive side of the ball? These two seniors run like Volkswagens with broken steering wheels. “I want the ball in my hands at the end of the game,” said Prout. So did everyone wearing black and orange, Matt.

•Steve Hopkins, Odessa’s head coach, refused to admit his defensive line was worn down by Platte County. “Our defensive line didn’t get beat tonight or wear down,” said a beaten but proud Hopkins. “I think we beat their offensive line. I think those running backs, Bernard and Prout, were stronger than the kids we had tackling them. We just couldn’t stop their running game. Their running game overwhelmed us.”

•Nick Jaros upset the line judge early in the game when he inquired a bit too aggressively about whether or not he was lining up on- or offside. The referee turned to Chip Sherman and angrily pointed at Jaros yelling, “You keep him outta my face!” Sherman quickly reminded Jaros that it would not be a good thing if he got tossed and no further problems ensued.

•Platte County misfired on two deep post patterns to Jaros in the second quarter that would have made this game a much less interesting bout. Hawkins overthrew a wide-open Jaros on the first one and Jaros bobbled and eventually dropped his second chance at a big play. “We’ll work on our timing and get it right the next time,” Jaros said in the postgame locker room.

•Heard at halftime in the Platte County crowd: “They’re in a dogfight.” “We’ll see what they’re made of now.” “This game ain’t over.” Consider this: The Platte County seniors have lost only one game in four years and no underclassman has ever tasted defeat. Few athletes ever play on an undefeated team let alone an undefeated career. What Chip Sherman and his staff and players are doing is absolutely amazing.

•The last guy I expected to see directing me into my parking spot across the street from the tennis courts was Platte County’s own Missouri Superintendent of the Year, Mr. Mark Harpst. On second thought, that’s probably why he’s the Super Super of the year.

•Since I missed dinner at home, I tried the PC concession stand’s fare. I spent $4.50 for a burger, polish dog and a Diet Coke (a guy’s gotta watch his figure). The burger received two stars on a four-star scale and the polish managed to rate three.

•Platte County R-3 handles big-game crowds as well as any high school venue I’ve frequented. From parking, to restrooms, to seating, this is a first-class operation. No parking lot clears out as quickly and as orderly as PC’s lots. If you don’t think so, take in a game in Olathe or Blue Springs sometime and get back to me when you finally make it out of there.

Quotes of Note

•“We still feel we’re as good a team as they are.”
— Steve Hopkins, Odessa head coach
GH: Hopkins runs a very classy program. He searched out numerous Platte County players after the game and told them how well they played. He then spoke to every one of his seniors individually and embraced them. Odessa is going to be very good for many years to come under this guy’s watch.

•“We thought it came down to character.”
— Chip Sherman, Platte County head coach
GH: I looked for panic in the Platte County players’ faces when they went down 14-7 but it never showed up. What I saw mostly was rage.

•“My first two, three or four runs are usually duds. It takes me a while to get going. I think being a big back and having good speed and power, it wears on the guys. You can feel that when they’re tackling. As the game goes on, I just break more and more and more tackles. And then it gets in their head.”
— Matt Prout

•“They were very physical. Those weren’t easy yards. They were competitors and those are the kind of guys we want to play.”
— Matt Prout

•“I’m sorry if I’m not making any sense. Some of those hits out there kind of scrambled my brain.”
— Matt Prout
GH: Prout is a heck of a good kid and one tough hombre with a football in his hands at crunch time. I don’t think even the 800-pound wooden Pirate could knock this kid over in the fourth quarter.

•“We bended but we did not break (on defense).”
— Sean O’Connor, Pirate senior defensive linebacker, on Platte County’s defense giving up 14 points but winning their 40th consecutive game
GH: O’Connor is far from the biggest guy on the Pirates team but he ranks mighty high up on my list of guys I’d least like to get mad at me. He plays like Jack Lambert only a little meaner.

•“We weren’t going to let this be our last game. We didn’t want to leave our legacy as one loss. … We’re just going to keep pushing and see who breaks, and obviously they broke.”
— Travis Frogge, Pirate senior defensive end and offensive lineman
GH: Frogge received treatment for leg cramps late in the second half but he re-entered the game and said later he did not expect any further problems. Frogge was a monster on defense the second half. He was in on almost every tackle, no matter what side of the line Odessa tried to dent.

•“They’re good. They’re 12-0.”
— Chip Sherman, when asked what he knew about Seneca, the Pirates semifinal opponent Saturday at 1:30 at Platte City