The Lakers made the 152-mile trip to Joplin Friday night to take on the Eagles in a battle for the top of the Ozark Conference where the winner would be guaranteed at least a share of the Ozark Conference crown. Joplin made sure it was that team and handed Camdenton a lopsided 49-7 defeat.

It was a tough night for Camdenton. 

The Lakers made the 152-mile trip to Joplin Friday night to take on the Eagles in a battle for the top of the Ozark Conference where the winner would be guaranteed at least a share of the Ozark Conference crown. Joplin made sure it was that team and handed Camdenton a lopsided 49-7 defeat. 

“They had a great night and we did not have a very good night. It was a combination of a lot of things and we just did not play very well,” Camdenton coach Jeff Shore said. “They were extremely ready to play and I thought we were too, but it just ended up being a bad night.” 

Part of that successful combination for Joplin was getting a good push off the ball and often winning the battle at the line of scrimmage, a fast-paced offense that could quickly put points on the board and a defense that usually made the Lakers earn everything they were given. Add three Laker turnovers and it turns into a winning formula. Camdenton’s first half drives resulted in four punts and an interception. Meanwhile, Joplin scored touchdowns on it’s first three drives, punted just once and put up two field goals to take a 27-0 lead into halftime. 

“Give them some credit. They are a pretty good football team obviously and they’ve gotten better as the years went by,” Shore said of the Eagles. “If you don’t bring your ‘A-Game’ it is going to be a bad night.” 

The biggest thorn in the side of the “Purple Haze” defense was Joplin sophomore receiver Zach Westmoreland. He started the scoring with two wildcat formation touchdown runs of 11 yards and three yards respectively to make it 14-0 by the end of the first quarter. He hauled in a 52-yard touchdown reception to start off the second quarter, pulled down a 34-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter and ended his night with another wildcat touchdown run late in the fourth from a yard out for his fifth score of the night. 

“They’ve got some good weapons and No. 1 is tough,” Shore said of Westmoreland. “He is hard for anybody to handle.” 

Despite a steep hill to climb, Camdenton came out swinging in the second half and delivered a punch right off the bat. On the first play from scrimmage, senior quarterback Isaiah Lumley hit senior wideout Jacob Hill on a quick strike near the middle of the field and the speedy Hill went across the field and up the left side using his All-State track speed to outrun Eagle defenders for an 80-yard touchdown to make it 27-7. 

Then the Lakers continued that momentum with back-to-back tackles in the backfield by senior defensive linemen Bo Shore and Chazz Sawyers to make it 3rd-and-20 for Joplin. Unfortunately for Camdenton, Joplin was able to convert and answered right back with a 20-yard touchdown run to go up 34-7 and never looked back. 

“We had a little spark there in the third quarter and got a score right off the bat,” Shore noted. “Then we played some decent defense, but they hit on another pass and that kind of took the wind out of our sails.” 

Camdenton, which is used to steamrolling opponents in the running game, was held to just 41 rushing yards as Hill led the way with 18 yards on the ground. He also led the Lakers in the passing game with three catches for 98 yards while fellow senior wideout Jackson Ezard also pulled down three catches for 37 yards of his own. Meanwhile, Lumley finished the night completing seven of his 17 pass attempts for 146 yards with a score and two interceptions.

Friday night’s contest was the first time this season that Camdenton suffered a lopsided loss with the team’s only other defeat being a tough 1-point loss to West Plains in week two. However, Camdenton responded to that loss by winning five straight games and will look to quickly bounce back once more. Shore has confidence that his club will be able to do just that.

“Our kids are strong and they’ll bounce back. Sometimes it is easier to bounce back from one like this than it is a heartbreaker,” the coach noted. “We just have to scratch it and get ready for next week… Even the fantastic teams have bad nights so we just have to bury it, try to learn from it obviously and get better, but bury it and move on.”

The good news is that there is still plenty of football to be played and the Lakers (6-2) still have a chance to gain at least a share of the conference title when they return home for Senior Night Friday night against Glendale. After that, it will be district playoff time.

“It will be the last time our seniors play at home officially. I hope we’ll have a home playoff game, but it is going to be real special,” Shore said of next week’s contest. “They (seniors) are a great group of kids and all our guys from the sophomores to the seniors want to win that ballgame Friday night.” 

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.