The three-peat is complete. Platte Countys Pirates
are the 2002 Missouri Class 3 State Champions. Again.
Coach Chip Shermans Orange and Black wrecking crew
administered a 34-13 whipping to the Salem Tigers before
more than 5,000 fans in St. Louis Edward Jones Dome
on Saturday to claim their third consecutive state title.
The Pirates are beginning to make this an annual Thanksgiving
get-a-away weekend for their fans. For the
past three seasons the Dome has been the Pirates
home away from home and one has to wonder if the Rams
helmet painted on the 50 yard line should be replaced
by a black Pirates helmet with the orange PC
emblazoned on it. OK, maybe thats a bit much but
it seems more fans have to call the school for directions
to games in Maryville or Chilicothe than they do for the
In addition to capturing a third straight title, the
Pirates have now won 42 consecutive games, second longest
winning streak in Missouri history. Over the past four
seasons the Pirates have won 54 of 55 games with only
a 1999 semifinal loss to Aurora as a blemish on this senior
classs resume. With the exception of all-state defensive
end Travis Frogge, no senior has tasted defeat in his
Losing that day (to Aurora) was the worst day of
my life. I made my mind up that I didnt want to
lose again, said Frogge.
The Pirates played a typical Pirates game. It was a very
physical game with a lot of hard hits and a bruising running
game led by seniors Matt Prout, Aaron Bernard, and Justin
Houpe. The defense was constantly swarming to the ball
and gang-tackling Salem ball carriers all day. Travis
Frogge, Sean OConner, Nick Jaros, Luke Rainey, Ryan
Weedin, Ben Houpe, and company harassed Salems one-two
punch of quarterback Tyler Dillon and fullback Joe Harris
the entire game.
The Pirates dominated early but were unable to dent the
scoreboard in the opening quarter for the first time this
year. Salem fumbled the opening kickoff and was lucky
to recover. As the referees unpiled the players it looked
like shades of the last meeting between the two teams
two years ago when Salem committed five turnovers. The
Tigers recovered the fumble but went three plays and out.
Following Salems punt the Pirates began their opening
drive at their own 24-yard line. Salem stopped PC on the
first two plays but Chris Hawkins found Nick Jaros on
a key third down pass to keep the drive alive. Three plays
later Matt Prout broke loose for a 38-yard run to the
Tiger 14-yard line. Everything was clicking at that point.
But Aaron Bernard coughed up the ball on the next play
and Salem recovered at their 10-yard line, stopping the
After forcing another Salem punt, the Pirates took charge.
They began from their 27-yard line and marched 73 yards
in 13 plays to score the games first points. Chris
Hawkins scored on a 1-yard sneak at the 10:32 mark of
the second quarter. The drive took 4:39 to complete. The
key plays were a 21-yard pass to Prout and a 15 yard run
by Prout which set up Hawkins touchdown.
The Pirate defense continued to stop Salem and following
another punt, PC took over at its 29-yard line. The Pirates
continued to pound the ball with an effective running
game and timely passing as they drove 71 yards to paydirt.
This drive ended with Matt Prout leaping a would-be tackler
at the goal line on a 9-yard scoring run. Justin Houpe
had a 19-yard reception and Nick Jaros had a catch for
16 yards in the drive, which took 10 plays and 4:12 to
complete. The final score of the half came with only 46
seconds remaining before intermission when Prout capped
a 9-play, 57-yard drive with a 2-yard run. The Pirates
were in command 21-0 at the half.
Platte County had a two to one edge in total yards in
the first half, 271 yards to 124. With 40 offensive plays
and 15 first downs, the Pirates had dominated the first
half by controlling the ball, keeping Salems high-powered
wishbone offense off the field. Offensively, Matt Prout
had 92 yards rushing in the first half while Chris Hawkins
had 97 yards on 8 of 10 passing to pace the Pirates
balanced attack. Defensively, the key may have been the
Pirates ability to hold Salems wishbone quarterback
Tyler Dillon to an average of 2.4 yards per rushing attempt,
well below his season average of 10.1 per carry. As a
result, Salem often found itself in second or third and
long situations, which for a run-oriented team usually
In the second half, the Pirates picked up where they
left off. Behind a Bernard 14-yard run and a Houpe 13-yard
run the Pirates marched deep into Tiger territory. Facing
a 4th and 2 at the Salem 18, Hawkins threw behind Nick
Jaros on a sideline route and the drive stalled after
a 48-yard march.
Salem couldnt capitalize on its defensive stand,
however. The PC defense once again stopped Salems
Tyler Dillon on first down with a 1-yard loss. Salem,
being in a second and long situation couldnt convert
as a run and an incomplete pass forced them to punt the
ball back to PC.
Platte County took over on their 43-yard line and Hawkins
found tightend Cory Williams on a 27-yard pass down the
sideline. Prout and Bernard ran the ball effectively down
inside the Tigers 10-yard line. Again the Pirates
faced a fourth down. On 4th and goal from the 3, Hawkins
once again threw behind Jaros in the endzone and the Pirates
surrendered the ball on downs. The Tigers took over as
the third quarter came to an end with the Pirates still
For the first time in the game Salem was able to mount
a sustained drive against the Orange and Black. The key
was their ability to make big yardage on first downs,
something they hadnt been able to do up to this
point. Four times on 1st down the Tigers had runs over
10 yards as they drove deep into Platte County territory.
Dillon, who had been held in check in the first half,
had two of those runs. However, it was Dillon who fumbled
at the Pirates 3-yard line. Jaros recovered for the Pirates
and Salems impressive drive ended after covering
94 yards in 12 plays.
Dillons fumble would provide the Pirates an opportunity
to put the game away with the games biggest play.
This time there would be no 4th down failure. The Pirates
went 97 yards in only 3 plays. Matt Prout turned the right
corner and scored on a Show-Me Bowl record-setting 91-yard
run. The run broke the record for the longest run from
scrimmage, eclipsing the previous record of 87 yards set
by Valles Todd Schwent in 1990.
Following the kickoff, Salem took over on their 35-yard
line, trailing 28-0. The Tigers were forced to punt after
6 plays and PC took possession at their 25-yard line.
The Pirates couldnt move the ball and had to punt
for the first time all day. Salem took over at its 47-yard
It took the Tigers six plays to go 53 yards for their
first score. Dillon connected with Chad Nichols on a 26-yard
slant pattern to cap the drive.
Just as Salem seemed to have a little momentum, the Pirates
delivered the final knockout punch. Platte County covered
an onside kick at midfield and on the next play Aaron
Bernard broke open with a 50-yard run to score the Pirates
final points of the day. Jaros extra point attempt
was wide left and the Pirates led, 34-7.
Salems fullback Joe Harris scored the final touchdown
of the game with only 2 seconds left. The drive covered
79 yards in 9 plays against the Pirates JV defense.
The two-point conversion was no good and the final margin
For the game the Pirates totaled 519 yards of offense.
They ran for 399 yards. Matt Prout capped a record day
by running 19 times for 197 yards and 3 touchdowns. Aaron
Bernard had 108 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown.
Justin Houpe added 78 yards on 11 carries. The Pirates
passed for 129 yards as Chris Hawkins completed 10 of
14 passes. Nick Jaros had 3 receptions for 35 yards. Cory
Williams had 2 catches for 34 yards. Prout and Brian Connel
each had 2 receptions for 26 and 15 yards, respectively.
Defensively, the Pirates yielded 370 yards, 258 on the
ground and 112 in the air. They recorded one sack and
recovered one fumble. Travis Frogge had 12 tackles, Justin
Houpe had 8, Ben Houpe had 7, and Sean OConner and
Cory Williams had 6 each.
As mentioned earlier, Matt Prout added his name to the
Show-Me Bowl record books with the longest run from scrimmage
of 91 yards. He joins 3 former Pirates who hold Show-Me
Bowl records. In 2000, against Salem, Brandon Gutshall
set the Class 3 record for completions with 13. He also
set the record for passing yards with 244 that day. Todd
Jaros set the Class 3 record for receiving yards with
166 in 2000. Todd also set a record for receptions with
7 in the same game. Chase Verdoorn set a single game record
for tackles with 17 against Salem in 2000.
For the seniors on this team it has been very special.
They have been a part of 42 straight wins and 3 state
titles. Most of these players have never tasted defeat.
When asked which of these championships means the most
to them, Travis Frogge, Nick Jaros, and Matt Prout all
agreed that this one was the most special. We were
a part of the others, said Jaros, But this
was our team.
Coach always says that the team belongs to the
seniors. Each year it is the seniors turn to lead
so this is the most special one, added Frogge.
As for Coach Sherman: That first one is maybe the
most special, he said. But each one is special
As fans, coaches, and players reflect on this championship
season, it is only fitting to salute the seniors who led
this team. Here they are: Nick Jaros, Justin Houpe, Luke
Rainey, Aaron Bernard, Sean OConner, Matt Prout,
Cory Williams, Zach Hibdon, Matt Frey, Travis Frogge,
Nick Butrous, Steve Jones, Sean Miller, Kevin Scrivener,
Stewart Brought, Mike Tucker, Daniel Whitford, Brian Connel,