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A Cinderella story

The 10-2 West Platte Blue Jays football team has advanced to semifinal playoff action on Saturday against 12-0 South Harrison after defeating last year's Class 1A Champion, Santa Fe Chiefs 14-6 on Monday night at Weston. Saturday's contest will be the first semifinal playoff action game since 1973 for West Platte when the team competed in the state championship game. Front row, l-r: Brian Barmann, Kyle Knighton, Adam Barmann, Kevin Rhodes, Neil McGinnis and Coach Danny Brown. Second row: Aaron Morgan, Beau Hendrix, Tim Frey, Riley Jones, Brad Fulk, Kole Knighton, Jordan Bates. Third row: Luke Weigel, Bobby Cornett, Nick Blevins, Dane Greathouse, Brett Davis, Ted Llewellyn, Sam Gibson, Solomon West. Back row: Ivan Hibarger, Erinn Lott, Brett Henson, Ladd Cogan, Joe Van Amburg, Drew Sharp, Lucas Wagner, Corey Rowland. Not pictured are Kirk Grinlinton, Dusty Kerns, Josh Elder, and Brent Dunkel.

by Kim Fickett
Landmark reporter

For the West Platte Blue Jays football team, a state semifinal action playoff drought has come to an end.

Quarterfinal football action Monday night paired West Platte against last year's Class 1A football champions the Santa Fe Chiefs. The game came down to the final 1 minute and 45 seconds on the game clock.

On Santa Fe's final play, fourth and six from the West Platte 8, Santa Fe ran the ball but failed to gain the first down. As West Platte quarterback Adam Barmann finished the game from their own 5-yard line, the Blue Jays clinched the quarterfinal game, 14-6.

"I know it may sound cheesy, but they played with a lot of heart and passion," said head coach, Danny Brown.

Approximately 2,000 fans came to Weston to catch one of the biggest games in Blue Jays football history. The year 1973 marked the last time the West Platte football team advanced past quarterfinal action, to compete in the championship game.

Fewer playoff victories were necessary back in 1973.

"This is the first time in the history of the school that the football team has won two playoff games in a year," said Brown.

The team, which consists of 32 players, takes a record of 10-2 to semifinal action into Bethany on Saturday where they face 12-0, South Harrison.

"South Harrison coach, Wes Croy, coached at Maysville last year. Since we've played Maysville the past couple of years we know a little bit about his coaching styles," stated Brown. "They like to run the option."

Brown added that if the team stays focused like they have all season, they can overcome South Harris for a chance at the state title.

"We have to be disciplined on defense and have to continue to be very aggressive. Our key is the offensive line. They need to play well and allow the playmakers to make the plays," explained Brown.

The focal point for the Blue Jays has been their striving effort to come together and work as a team.

With this in the minds of each player on the team, the players and coaches turned last year's 1-8 Blue Jays into a team hungry for the state championship title to come to Weston.

"Last year the team suffered a lot of injuries and at one point we lost the entire backfield," said Brown. "With the way these kids have bounced back and fought back, I felt it was our turn for something good to happen."

With the loss of seven defensive starters and four offensive starters to graduation last year, many players have stepped up to make the plays for their team and bring them to this point in their schools history.

Senior Kyle Knighton, tight end and middle linebacker for the Jays, is being recruited by Division I Schools for his contributions on the football field. This year, Knighton has claimed 185 tackles, 27 catches and five touchdowns.

Junior quarterback and cornerback Adam Barmann has thrown for over 2,000 yards.

Running back and junior, Kevin Rhodes, rushed over 1,500 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Sophomore Brian Barmann, wide receiver and free safety, has 60 catches for 1,290 yards and 10 interceptions.

Fullback and outside linebacker, Kirk Grinlinton, senior, owns over 800 yards, 13 touchdowns and 94 tackles.

"Character has been so important on this team. We've seen tremendous leadership from the senior class as a whole," said Brown.

Brown said that with emotions so high on a game like Saturday's, he talks with the team about maintaining the focus no matter what obstacles the game might throw in their path.

"A football game is an emotional roller coaster-we've just got to ride it out and try not to keep our highs to high and our lows to low," said Brown.

Kickoff for Saturday's 1A semifinal game at Bethany is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. against South Harrison.