Camdenton, Mo. - For the third straight year, the Camdenton Lakers are heading to the state quarterfinals.
In Jeff Shore's third year as the head coach of the Lakers, the Camdenton team has won their third district title after a win over their arch-rival, the Waynesville Tigers.
"It's a great feeling to come out here and get a win against the arch-rival Waynesville and put it on them like that," senior Elijah Ollison said after the game. "They have a really dynamic quarterback who can run and throw well, but our defense played well and shut them down. Our offense just played typical smash-mouth Laker football and did a great job doing just that."
A mixture of cold temperatures, precipitation and heavy winds all combined to force the Lakers of the 2013 season to lay off of their usual mix of running and passing, instead making the Camdenton team return to its roots of power running.
With the weather the way it was, it affected the play-calling quite a bit," Coach Jeff Shore said after the win. "I feel like we could've opened it up if we needed to, but with the way we ran the ball, it seemed to be the way to go."
After winning the coin toss, the Tigers were set to receive, but the first quarter of play proved to be scoreless as both teams tried to adjust to the cold. Camdenton's second drive of the game saw a heavy dose of running, as the offensive line powered their way forward, but the Lakers fell short on the 1-yard line, turning over on downs.
Forcing a punt from Waynesville with their backs in the end-zone, the Lakers began their next drive at the Tiger 44. As the 1st quarter ended, the Lakers began the 2nd at the 33, and with some great running plays, Bo Dean found Elijah Ollison for an 18-yard pass down the seam to draw first blood, and with the two-point conversion good, the Lakers led 8-0.
Waynesville's next drive once again ended with a punt, as the Lakers continued to attack the line of scrimmage and pressure the quarterback. Taking over at their own 30, the Camdenton squad once again marched downfield on the ground, but on 4th down, it looked as Dean's pass to Elliott would fall to the ground, incomplete, but Ollison dove for it, with his hands coming just underneath it in the nick of time to sustain the drive and get a first down at the 11-yard line.
The Hogs then led the way, as the offensive line continued to win the battle at the line, opening the way up for Matt Endsley to pound the ball in for another Laker score with 2:10 left in the half.
Waynesville then ran out the clock to the end of the half, and both teams headed to the locker rooms to recuperate and warm themselves as Camdenton led 14-0 at the half.
Page 2 of 2 - Starting at their own 38, Camdenton began the second half by picking up where they had left off in the first by rushing the ball up the middle, breaking off nice gains with each carry. The Lakers ground it out for the drive, with Endsley and Josh Martin breaking off a number of strong runs before Martin punched it in for a 20-0 lead.
Waynesville still couldn't get anything going, though QB Varon Martinez's speed proved to be effective as he danced in and out of the Lakers' tackles, but was unable to add positive yards as they were forced to punt once again.
Camdenton's next drive worked in the same fashion, but this time, it resulted in an emotional touchdown, as Michael Smythe's touchdown was celebrated by the team and fans alike as Smythe's score came after his mother had passed away two days earlier.
Camdenton would go on to score one final time, after recovering a Waynesville fumble on the 19-yard line, as Luke Burris leaped over defenders to find the end zone, giving the Lakers a 35-0 lead which they would carry to the end, thanks to a late interception by Jacob Wise as Camdenton defeated the "W" word in a shutout.
The Laker defense played, by far, their best game of the season, giving up no scores and allowing less than 50 offensive yards from the Tigers. Waynesville finished with -3 rushing yards and 51 passing, while Camdenton's offense produced 240 yards rushing, 76 yards coming from Luke Burris, 92 from Matt Endsley and 58 from Josh Martin. Bo Dean threw 6-for-8 for 76 yards on the night, setting a new single-season record for passing yards at Camdenton.
"It's great. It feels good now, and we'll celebrate in the locker room, but starting Tuesday, we'll focus on Saturday. We've got bigger fish to fry. We're not nervous, but we're going to play like there's no tomorrow, because if we do, there will be a tomorrow," Ollison said. "We're going to be face stiff competition, but we have a lot of amazing athletes on our team, so I feel like we can compete with anyone."
The Lakers now prepare for the state quarterfinal game, as they head to St. Louis on Saturday to take on Parkway Central at 1:30 p.m. in a rematch of last season's quarterfinal loss. Parkway Central (11-1 this season) won a close one last time by a score of 7-0, but this time, the Lakers' new passing attack is what the Lakers will bank on.
"It's great for the coaches, the players, and the fans," Coach Shore said. "it's great to carry on that tradition that Dad (Bob Shore) began. We've practiced for this, and I think that we have the ability to throw it out there and have some success, and we're sure going to try."