The Kearney and Platte County faithful packed into Pirate Stadium on Friday to see who would come out on top in the Suburban Blue Conference and have a better position for the Class 4 playoffs.
By the end of the night, after all the offensive firepower was over, Kearney emerged victorious 42-39 after a wild back-and-forth battle.
“It’s a great confidence builder, but more than anything I’m proud of our kids,” Kearney coach Greg Jones said. “They’ve come so far from since when they were eighth-graders. They were the class that nobody kind of believed in. That let us push them and let us coach them and now they’re seeing the dividends of it.”
Although Kearney, 8-1, was in control with an 18-point lead 8 minutes into the fourth quarter, the Pirates clawed back within three points. Platte County, 6-3, almost recovered an onside kick in the final minute that would have given it a chance to win.
“Our kids don’t quit,” Platte County coach Bill Utz said. “They’re going to keep trying hard as they possibly can and give us their best effort.”
Kearney’s major reason for success was quarterback Anthony Pritzel leading the offensive attack. He finished with 396 total yards and four touchdowns. Pritzel moved to Kearney earlier this year, and now he seems poised for a big postseason.
“I told him he knows the stuff now,” Jones said. “This is your ship. Tonight Kansas City will find out who you are.”
Jess Davis, Pritzel’s main target, maneuvered through the Pirates’ defense for 200 yards and two touchdowns. He and Pritzel have found a great connection.
“We’ve practiced it in practice, and it’s been working in games, that Clemson and go, and it works every time,” Pritzel said of their abilities. “We do it a lot in practice and it pays off.”
Platte Country put up some big numbers of its own, including from lanky, athletic target John Watts for 235 yards and two touchdowns. Justin Mitchell was also impressive, with 420 passing yards and four touchdowns.