Wellington-Napoleon beats West Platte

By Marc Bowman PrepsKC staff writer
Posted: August 26, 2016 - 11:58 PM

The Wellington-Napoleon Tigers took advantage of turnovers for three third-quarter touchdowns to grab their first-ever win in Weston, topping the West Platte Blue Jays 36-7.

Both Class 1 teams came into Friday’s contest off solid first-week performances; the Tigers hammered the Lone Jack Mules 47-0 in their opener while the Blue Jays overran the Central Academy Blue Eagles 41-18. The matchup of unbeatens was delayed nearly an hour as strong thunderstorms pounded the West Platte field and halftime was also extended an hour due to lightning in the area.

After a tight opening half, the second half belong to Wellington-Napoleon’s defense with the West Platte rushing attack held to 121 yards and just 3-of-10 passing on the night.

“We knew we had some talented kids,” said Tigers Head Coach Quenton Bainbridge. “We’re a young team but we don’t really know how good we are. But we told our kids we’re going to find out pretty soon because West Platte’s a great football team. They always are. This was it. This was our test and I think our kids passed.”

In Wellington-Napoleon’s first possession of the final half, junior John Ford, Jr., recovered senior Nick Miller’s fumble. One play later, sophomore Trey Shannon hit senior Duncan Hughes over the middle for a 38-yard touchdown. Senior Dylan Brockmeyer’s two-point conversion made it 20-7 Tigers with 9:31 left in the third quarter.

“I’m glad our guys were there when mistakes happened to capitalize on them,” Bainbridge said. “Our defense is heading the right direction, that’s for sure.”

On the Blue Jays next possession, senior Matt Block recovered a fumble at the Tigers 46, setting up Jordon Hill’s six-yard score; Hill added the two-point conversion for a 28-7 advantage with 6:18 remaining.

“We’ve got a little more speed than West Platte, I think, and that ended up being the difference.” Bainbridge said. “But those kids are physical. They’ve got some talented kids on that side of the ball that we had a hard time blocking all night.”

A minute later, the Blue Jays drove into the red zone, but Miller was sacked by junior Stone Willoughby. Shannon returned the ensuing fumble 74 yards for a touchdown with Hughes’ conversion capping the scoring.

“Defensively, it’s hard to simulate a team that runs the ball as well as West Platte,” Bainbridge explained. “We knew we were going to have to weather the early part of the game. And we did. And we kind of came out with allowing not very many points. So, that was nice. Then our kids started figuring it out, they started getting the timing and that second half, they started picking them off.”

The teams traded defensive stops during a scoreless first quarter, then traded scores.

On their second possession, the Blue Jays used a slashing running game featuring junior Brayan Rodriguez to again drive deep into Tigers territory before Miller hit junior Grant Eagen on his first pass of the game for a 13-yard strike with 10:17 left in the second quarter for a 7-0 lead and the only points allowed by Wellington-Napoleon this year.

The Tigers recovered quickly with Shannon tossing a 47-yard touchdown as Hughes outran the Blue Jays defense down the left sideline. The two-point conversion failed, leaving West Platte in the lead, 7-6, at the 7:42 mark.

After stopping the Blue Jays near midfield on the next drive, the Tigers marched from their own 15 for a go-ahead score on Hill’s 56-yard run up the middle with 3:15 left in the half; the two-point conversion again failed as Wellington-Napoleon took a 12-7 lead into intermission.

Hill rushed for 77 yards on the lead-changing possession and finished with 131 yards and two TDs on 17 carries.

“He’s about as good in open space as any kid I’ve ever seen,” Bainbridge said. “He’s got moves for days. We don’t really know where he’s going to go or what he’s going to do. We like to get him the ball in space and then let him do that. We don’t hamstring him. We tell him ‘you do what you do’, because not many people can do that. Very talented kid. We’re just very fortunate that he’s on our team.”

Both squads go on the road for conference games next week; the Blue Jays travel to Gower September 2 for a matchup with the East Buchanan Bulldogs while the Tigers go to Alma to face off with the Santa Fe Chiefs.

“We try to go one week at a time,” Bainbridge said. “But anyone that knows our team knows we play Lexington in two weeks and they’re very good. They’re a very good Class 2 football school. They’re eight miles up the road from us and we know that’s a big one. So, we passed the first test. We need to carry this momentum on through next week and see what happens after that because they’re very good.”