Camdenton Lakers, Eldon Mustangs, Versailles Tigers and Osage Indians

Camdenton hoping to continue winning ways in the playoffs

Camdenton was on the road at Kickapoo for its regular season finale on Friday night and the Chiefs could not slow down the Lakers as they cruised to their sixth straight win by a final score of 49-7.

Since a 41-7 loss at West Plains on September 7, Camdenton has dominated scoring no less than 34 points while outscoring opponents 339 to 98. It was just a 21-7 game at halftime, but the Lakers shutdown Kickapoo in the second half by scoring 28 unanswered points.

Camdenton junior quarterback Paxton DeLaurent connected on 28 of his 41 passes for 393 yards and it was the ground game that finished the charge as sophomore running back Eli Griffin put up 52 rushing yards and three touchdowns on just seven carries while DeLaurent added the other two scores with his legs. Senior wideout Jaben Shockley led all receivers with seven reception for 87 yards, sophomore receiver Cooper Ezard put up four catches for 57 yards and senior receiver Dylan Tufts finished his night with six catches for 48 yards respectively.

Camdenton (8-1, 8-1 Ozark Conference) finished the regular season as the top seed in the district and the road to the Class 4 District 5 championship will come through the friendly confines of Bob Shore Stadium, also known as the “Jaws of Death” should the Lakers win their next two games. Up first is No. 8 Pacific (1-8) in the first round of districts on Friday at 7 p.m.

Pacific is coming off a 21-14 defeat against St. James and the Indians have lost three in a row, being outscored 93 to 42, and have only put up two touchdowns in each of those games. Pacific is currently putting up 15.1 points and allowing 37.2 points per contest while Camdenton is averaging 48.8 points and giving up 16.1 points per game. Camdenton is hoping to make its second straight trip to the district semifinals, but nothing can be taken for granted when it comes down to win or end the season.

The good news is that Camdenton has some momentum on its side.

DeLaurent will be looking to extend his record-breaking season as the signal caller for the Lakers after adding to the single-season passing record with 2,840 yards and single-season touchdown record 33 on the year.

As has been the case throughout all of 2018, the job becomes easier for DeLaurent when he has a host of weapons at his disposal. Senior receiver Gabe Kurtz (42 receptions, 660 yards and three touchdowns), senior receiver Jaben Shockley (34 receptions, 535 yards and three touchdowns), senior receiver Cash Calton (31 receptions, 350 yards and seven touchdowns), senior receiver Dylan Tufts (26 receptions, 286 yards and five touchdowns), senior tailback Lathan Wise (19 receptions, 445 yards and six touchdowns and sophomore wideout Cooper Ezard (17 receptions, 186 yards and five touchdowns) all have a knack for getting open.

In last week’s win over Kickapoo, Camdenton also showed that it still knows how to run block behind the “Hogs” up front like it has for the past five decades as Griffin broke loose in the ground game and got into open space. The sophomore now has 157 rushing yards on the season on just 37 carries, averaging 4.2 yards per carry to go with 11 touchdowns.

Put it all together and the Lakers will likely be back at home next week with a trip to the district championship on the line.

Eldon begins road to district title defense with Salem

Eldon came into its Friday matchup on the road against rival Osage needing a win to end the regular season with a winning record. On the other side, the Indians came into the game looking to end the season on a high note sitting just 2-6.

Through ball-hawking defense and a steady offensive attack, the Mustangs were able to pull out the victory by a score of 31-12.

The opening quarter went by extremely hastily as both teams opened their offense efforts with a heavy rush attack. Both teams traded punts before Eldon put together a drive that looked like a promising opening to the scoring for the night. However, they would be stopped at the 1-yard line and turned the ball over on downs. It looked like Osage was finding enough answers to keep things even, as the first quarter concluded scoreless.

But Eldon made its statement quickly as senior quarterback Dawson Brandt took the ball into the end zone himself just three minutes into the second quarter to make the score 7-0. Osage began its drive with promise, but would end up following the touchdown with a fumble the Mustangs happily recovered. This was a factor throughout the night, as Eldon’s defense would end with multiple interceptions and fumble recoveries. Eldon found the end zone once more before halftime with Brandt’s legs once again to make it 14-0.

Osage finally broke through in the third quarter to cut the Mustang lead to 14-6, but the change in momentum was short-lived as Eldon quickly went back up 21-6. Eldon’s momentum continued as a fumble on the ensuing kickoff gave the Mustangs good field position and they did not disappoint after extending the lead to 28-6. Osage responded with one final touchdown before the end of the third quarter, but it would be their final score of the night as Eldon added one more field goal in the fourth quarter to create the final margin.

Brandt completed three of his six passes for 71 yards and an interception while leading the ground attack with 101 of the team’s 213 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Senior tailback Isaiah Parsons added 50 rushing yards, Ethan Wood put up 29 and junior running back Logan Hall contributed 27. Meanwhile, senior tight end Charlie Mays managed to sneak behind the Osage defense a couple of times with two receptions for 64 yards.

Following the victory, Eldon coach Chad Hult said that he was happy for the team to be able to end the year on a high note and go into the playoffs with a winning record. He acknowledged that of course each of the first nine games mean something, but the way a team is able to build towards week 10 is pivotal.

“It’s nice to come out on top at the end and move positively into week 10,” he said.

Time to see what Eldon is made of.

“We finally got a full team effort and I thought the defense shined,” Hult said. “Now, it’s time for us to evaluate what we will have ready next week.”

Speaking of next week, it is win or go home and fourth-seeded Eldon (5-4, 3-4 Tri-County Conference) will be hosting No. 5 Salem (3-6) in the first round of the Class 3 District 5 playoffs.

The Tigers are coming off a narrow 15-14 loss to Cabool and are currently averaging 15.2 points and giving up 29.7 points per outing. Comparatively, Eldon is averaging 24.1 points and allowing 26.9 points per contest.

Like Eldon, Salem loves to run as the Tigers have only attempted 41 passes all season which have resulted in 298 passing yards and a single touchdown. Senior quarterback Chandler Gray can run, though, leading the team with 502 rushing yards (5.2 yards per carry) and eight touchdowns. Senior Sam Ball, sophomore Brandon White and senior Tristan Newman have also rushed for at least 200 yards each with a combined five touchdowns and the team has totaled 1,439 yards on the ground averaging 4.5 yards per carry. Should Salem elect to pass the ball, senior Boone Schrader is the biggest threat with four receptions for 104 yards and a score.

Salem will have a few Mustangs to worry about as well. Parsons (864 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns), Hall (688 yards, two touchdowns) and Brandt (644 rushing yards, seven touchdowns) lead a ground game averaging five yards per carry as a team and has put up 25 total touchdowns. Brandt has also thrown for 250 yards and a score and Hall has shown reliable hands with 16 receptions for 264 yards to lead the receiving corps. After missing a few games during the season due to injury, Mays has shown an ability to be a threat in the passing game as well with four receptions for 123 yards respectively.

The time has come for Eldon to begin the road to its third straight district championship appearance and time will soon tell if the Mustangs have what it takes to get there and defend their title.

Versailles hoping for solid start in districts against East Newton

There was not much to separate between Versailles and Hallsville Friday night.

The Tigers were hosting the Indians in the regular season finale and what was a 21-20 halftime lead for the home side turned into a 34-29 defeat as the Indians found a way to squeak by.

The Versailles offense seemingly put in the work to come out on top as junior quarterback Coby Williams showed his wheels once again by rushing for 231 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries. He also completed 10 of his 15 passes for another 105 yards and a touchdown to senior receiver Wyatt Espinosa. Espinosa led the receiving corps with four catches for 56 yards while junior running back Dallas Waller added four receptions for 42 yards respectively. Senior tailback Michael Trotter also added 24 rushing yards on seven carries.

Unfortunately for Versailles, Hallsville was just slightly better as the Indians put up 271 yards on the ground, averaging 6.6 yards per carry, and another 108 yards through the air with only two incompletions. Trotter led the way at linebacker for Versailles with 19 total tackles, including 2.5 tackles for a loss, and both Waller at defensive line and junior linebacker Gage Tessier recorded a sack each.

Versailles (5-4, 4-3 Tri-County Conference) finishes the regular season as the third seed in the Class 2 District 4 standings and will play host to No. 6 East Newton (0-9) on Friday at 7 p.m.

The Patriots are coming off a 42-6 loss at the hands of Springfield Catholic and have not lost a game by fewer than 29 points all season. Versailles is currently averaging 27.3 points and allowing 29 points per game while East Newton is averaging 5.3 points and allowing 46 points per outing. The numbers seem to be in Versailles favor, but the Tigers will surely not be taking anything for granted as they look to get back on track to make a run in the playoffs.

With another solid rushing night, Williams has eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards on the season as a quarterback with 1,218 and counting to go with 21 touchdowns. He also has 1,167 passing yards and another nine touchdowns through the air with just five interceptions and as long as he is able to freely move around the pocket, moving the chains has not been an issue. Meanwhile, Trotter has also put together a solid rushing season with 430 yards (4.5 yards per carry) and two touchdowns respectively to go with six receptions for 83 yards. Espinosa has been Williams’ favorite target with 36 receptions for 454 yards and seven touchdowns while Waller (32 receptions, 302 yards), junior receiver Brayden Morrison (13 receptions, 167 yards) and junior receiver Payton LaFoy (eight receptions, 67 yards) have also been reliable targets.

That kind of balance has been a fairly successful formula all season if Versailles can continue to stay on track.

Trotter has led the defensive unit with an eye-opening 128.5 tackles (14.3 tackles per game) that has also resulted in 18.5 tackles for a loss with three sacks. There are also seven Tigers with 32 or more tackles on the year and the defense has forced 10 total turnovers so the season can continue for another week if East Newton is not gifted any big plays.

At the beginning of the season, a goal for Versailles coach Broc Silvers and company was to host a playoff game at home. Well, mission accomplished and now time will soon tell if a trip to the district semifinals is in the near future.

Osage kicks off playoffs with trip to Buffalo

It was rivalry week for the regular season finale as Osage hosted its neighbor Eldon on the gridiron looking to end the season on a high note. Unfortunately for the Indians, five turnovers did not help their cause as the Mustangs pulled away for a 31-12 win.

The first quarter displayed a heavy rushing attack by both sides, but it proved fruitless early and the game remained scoreless as a few drives stalled and Osage made a goal line stand, forcing a turnover on downs on its own 1-yard line.

However, the Mustangs soon broke through, as senior quarterback Dawson Brandt found an open lane and took it for the first of his three rushing touchdowns. Just three minutes into the second quarter to put his team up 7-0. On the ensuing drive, Osage coughed up its first of three fumbles and before halftime, Brandt found the end zone once more to go up 14-0.

The Indians found an answer to start the second half, though, as senior quarterback Dalton Depeé ran in a touchdown on one of his 20 carries that totaled 176 of Osage’s 253 rushing yards on the night to lead the team. After a missed PAT, the deficit was cut to 14-6, but Eldon soon responded with another touchdown to back up 21-6.

This was the moment Osage needed to make another statement and stay within striking distance, but a fumble on the ensuing kickoff gave the Mustangs the ball right back and they did not waste the good field position, extending the lead to 28-6. The Indians put together one more scoring drive as a 22-yard strike from Depeé found the hands of senior tight end Garrett Sutherland in the end zone to make it 28-12. However, Eldon continued to churn the rushing attack with the clock as its friend and added one more field goal before the night was through.

Depeé finished the night completing six of his 15 passes for 77 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions and his top target was Sutherland who hauled in four receptions for 49 yards while junior tight end Drew Edwards caught a pass for 15 yards and senior receiver Trevor Ralston pulled in a pass for 13 yards. Junior running back James Hutchcraft did some work on the ground as well, turning in 11 carries for 56 yards.

Osage ends the regular season at 2-7 and 1-6 in the Tri-County Conference, but the team will spend little time dwelling on the past as the postseason signifies a fresh new start where the only thing that matters is who wins the battle on Friday night. The Indians, who enter the playoffs as the seventh seed in the Class 3 District 5 Tournament, will look to fight another day by taking down No. 2 Buffalo when they take on the Bison on Friday at 7 p.m., at Southwest Baptist University.

Buffalo is coming off a 54-7 win over Forsyth and the Bison are winners of six straight, currently averaging 36.1 points and allowing 17.8 points per game. Comparatively, Osage is hoping to end a six game losing streak and improve upon the figures that peg the Indians scoring 12.9 points and giving up 34.2 points per outing.

For Buffalo, it all starts with the quarterback as sophomore Jamen Smith leads the team with 1,126 of the team’s 1,933 rushing yards on the season with 15 touchdowns and another 486 passing yards, five touchdowns and five interceptions to his name. He even has four receptions for 106 yards and a score as a receiver. Junior Coltin Henderson (316 yards, 4.4 yards per carry and four touchdowns) and senior Keaton Rackley (228 yards, 8.4 yards per carry and four touchdowns) will also be key figures to stop in the running game while senior Bradley Hosiner (13 receptions, 185 yards and two touchdowns), senior Layton Moody (six receptions, 132 yards and one touchdown) and senior Levi Phillips (six receptions, 78 yards and two touchdowns) are the primary threats in the passing game.

Buffalo will also have a quarterback to slow down if the Bison wish to advance as Depeé has thrown for 529 yards and six touchdowns while rushing for 646 yards and another five touchdowns. Osage also has some depth in the ground game as junior running back Jack Dulle (246 rushing yards, 3.8 yards per carry) and sophomore rusher Mason Clarke (240 rushing yards, 5.7 yards per carry) have eclipsed the 200-yard mark while three other Indians have surpassed the century mark. In the air, Sutherland is always a vertical threat with 13 receptions for 208 yards and three touchdowns while junior receiver Logan Havner (14 receptions, 129 yards and one touchdown), Edwards (six receptions, 68 yards), junior tailback Matt Hans (six receptions 45 yards and one touchdown) and Ralston (four receptions, 42 yards and one touchdown) have shown some reliable hands as well.

Time will soon tell who makes the most of the opportunities and fights to live another day.