Pirates power ahead

Kyle Palmer

By Kyle Palmer PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: August 28, 2015 - 9:33 PM

Lightning struck twice for Belton senior running back Zach Willis and the Pirates earned their first victory of the season 26-7 over North Kansas City in a storm-shortened game at the Northland’s historic District Stadium.

Willis ran for two touchdowns and fellow senior Justus Shaw ran for a touchdown and caught another to lead the Pirates, who were coming off an emotional season-opening loss to rival Raymore-Peculiar.  

“It started off slow, but then we got that first big run and that really got us going,” Willis said.

Willis opened the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown dive midway through the second quarter after Belton took advantage of a short field and drove 41 yards. A botched extra point kept the score at 6-0.

Belton struck again just before the half when sophomore quarterback Bart Harris hooked up with Shaw for a 33-yard touchdown with less than 30 seconds on the clock. The Pirates led 12-0 at the half.

“We made them earn it in the first half, we were right there with them, so I felt good about that,” said North Kansas City coach Leon Douglas.

The Hornets were looking to start their season with their second straight win, which would have surpassed their total for all of 2014. But they never got their offense going. The Pirates outgained the Hornets 401-185.

North Kansas City’s best chance came midway through the third quarter down only two scores when the Hornets advanced to inside the Pirate 15-yard line. But the Belton defense stiffened and turned back a fourth-and-1.

“We get that first down and I think it’s a totally different ball game,” Douglas said.

On the ensuing drive, Belton employed a hurry-up offense and drove 87 yards for their third score, a seven-yard run by Shaw, who played at both quarterback and wide receiver in the game.

Willis would get on the board again early in the fourth quarter, running in from 19 yards out. That play came after Dylon Smith intercepted a pass by North Kansas City’s John Sanchez.

“We decided to pick up the tempo a bit in the second have,” said Belton coach Todd Vaughn. “I would have liked to have seen that energy in the first half.”

The Hornets broke through in the fourth quarter when senior Robert Tyner intercepted a Bart Harris pass and returned it 96 yards for a touchdown.

“My man cut out and I was on the inside,” Tyner said. “I read the quarterback and got the pick. I didn’t want to get caught. I kept looking back to see if he was gaining on me.”

It was Tyner’s second pick-six of his career. 

The fourth quarter was marred by an on-field fight that began after players scuffled over an onside kick. One player from each teach was ejected. Several personal fouls were assessed.

“I apologize to our fans and our community,” said Coach Douglas of North Kansas City. “More than the loss, that’s what sticks with me right now. I’m bothered by our lack of discipline.”

Douglas says he apologized to Coach Vaughn of Belton, who also expressed dismay over the incident.

“We took a step back in that regard tonight,” he said. “That and our penalties. We have a lot to work on.”

With about five minutes to go, lightning forced officials to suspend the game. Heavy rains for the next 45 minutes convinced them to call the game final.

Belton hosts Park Hill next week. North Kansas City stays at home and welcomes Lee’s Summit North to District Stadium.