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Platte County falls to Jackson in title gamePhoto Credit: Todd Nugent/PC Preps Extra

JEFFERSON, CITY, Mo. — Platte County players and coaches recognized the feeling of disappointment following Saturday’s 42-7 loss in the Class 5 Show-Me Bowl. Yet, the undeniable uncertainty on the viability of playing at all this season made a difference in evaluating the disappointing conclusion Saturday at Ray Hentges Stadium.

After taking an unexpected step up from Class 4, Platte County finished 12-2 with an outright Suburban Conference Blue Division title, earned the No. 1 seed in District 8 and reached the state semifinals for the third time in four seasons. The Pirates also earned a second straight state runner-up finish — albeit with another lopsided result in the championship game — in what becomes the second best four-year stretch in program history.

Jackson captured the program’s first state championship while dominating a unique matchup of teams coming off state runner-up finishes. The Indians lost 27-21 to in overtime to Carthage in the 2019 Show-Me Bowl.

“It’s obviously disappointing; you don’t want your season to go out like that. You want to go out on top,” Platte County senior defensive tackle Keaton Smith said. “I’m still pretty happy with the way our season ended, considering we weren’t even supposed to really have a season this year. Making it all the way to the state championship in Class 5 in the first year you are in Class 5 is huge, so I wouldn’t really say it’s deja vu.”

Jackson (14-0) completed an impressive unbeaten season, going up 35-0 late in the third quarter to start a running clock. The Indians’ heralded offense actually failed to score 49 for the first time this season, but the star power was evident.

Cael Welker, Jackson’s senior third-year starter at quarterback, went 15-for-19 for an efficient 165 yards and scored three total touchdowns — two through the air to senior wide receiver Kannen Turley (four catches, 98 yards). Indians senior running back Daniel Dickerson added 193 yards rushing and two scores on the ground, including a 75-yarder on the their second offensive play to go up 7-0 with 8 minutes, 54 seconds left in the first quarter.

“We got hit on the second (play), and they scored,” Platte County coach Bill Utz said.

Perhaps more impressively, Jackson’s defense harassed Platte County senior quarterback Chris Ruhnke into an uncharacteristically off day. He finished just 10-for-32 for 110 yards with three interceptions — all in the first half.

All three interceptions were in the first half, but Platte County didn’t allow any points off the three giveaways. However, the Pirates never found consistent offense even after a few big stops early and trailed 21-0 at halftime.

Ruhnke led second-half comeback wins for Platte County in the postseason against North Kansas City (District 8 semifinals), Grain Valley (quarterfinals) and Webb City (semifinals), but the Pirates were unable to conjure up any more magic this time around.

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