Platte County picked a perfect time to produce its best offensive performance this season during a 54-23 victory against William Chrisman in the Class 5 District 8 opener.
Senior quarterback Dylan Zimmerman threw for nearly 300 yards and five touchdowns – four of them to Dawsen Mizell – while sophomore Dayton Doll stepped in and ran for 138 yards and two touchdowns to help the Pirates advance to the district semifinals.
By racking up nearly 472 yards of total offense, Platte County (5-5) turned in one of its most complete performances this year and continued its strong late-season surge by winning for the third time in the past four games.
“Our offense is finally coming together as one full unit, and we’re all playing our hearts out,” Zimmerman said. “All of us are playing with the mindset that we’re all seniors, and it’s our last run at it right here.”
With the win, the Pirates set up a rematch against Oak Park in the district semifinals, but first, they had to defeat a Chrisman team for the second game in a row after the teams played in the regular-season finale.
The Bears (3-7) got on the board first thanks to a Mitchell Cory field goal that gave them an early 3-0 advantage, but Platte County found its rhythm immediately after.
On the very next drive, the Pirates marched right down the field and took the lead for good when Mizell snagged the first of his four touchdowns from Zimmerman. It kicked off a stretch where Platte County scored touchdowns on five consecutive drives – including scored by Doll, Tristan Magnuson and two more by Mizell – that set the team up with a commanding 34-3 lead at halftime.
Platte County coach Bill Utz said he was glad to see his team respond so well after a slightly slow start to reel off 34 unanswered points.
“It took us a little while to get going. Hats off to Chrisman. They came out and fought,” Utz said. “It’s really hard to play somebody two games in a row, for both of us, for both sides.
“Once we got going, I could breathe a little bit easier. We got some things going, and it definitely felt a lot better.”
Still, Chrisman found a way to close the gap to begin the second half. Junior Jamir Robinson-Smith intercepted two passes and returned them both for pick-sixes – including one for 98 yards – that helped the Bears claw back to within two scores, 34-17, shortly into the third quarter.
But the Pirates offense soon got back on track, as Zimmerman connected with Mizell for the final time on a 14-yard pass that sparked a 20-0 run by Platte County. In the process, Mizell potentially tied a school record for touchdown receptions in a single game.
Mizell finished with 108 receiving yards on seven catches for his second 100-plus effort this year, while Dom Spears added another 82 yards on just three grabs. Zimmerman said building that level of trust with his receivers has allowed Platte County to keep making strides as an offense, leading to the highest point totals in the past two weeks.
“It was just a process of trusting one another,” Zimmerman said of his touchdowns to Mizell. “I knew he was going to be there for me when I needed him. He dropped a corner route early in the game, and I knew he was going to come back and get me with another one.
“And sure enough, he got four touchdowns, too.”
Doll and Grant Archibald would tack on rushing touchdowns in the span of 13 seconds late in the third quarter that sealed the game, and Chrisman’s Nicholas Terrell wrapped up the scoring with a touchdown run in the final minutes.
The Pirates also enjoyed one of their best games of defense, as well, by forcing five takeaways – three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
Utz said he was glad to see such a well-rounded effort from his team to kick off postseason play, and that he hopes to keep that momentum intact entering next week’s rematch against the top-seeded Northmen, who defeated Platte County earlier this year.
“The defense played great the whole time, and they’ve done a great job in the second half of the season, really putting us in a spot to get some nice turnovers and then capitalize off of those,” Utz said. “Really as a team, offense and defense both, we’ve been playing well together and complementing each other really nicely.
“It feels good. We’ve kind of got some things going, and hopefully, we can continue that ride.”