“Hogs” and “Purple Haze” defense come through for the Lakers

The challenge for Camdenton Friday night was not an easy one. 

The Lakers welcomed the Glendale Falcons for Senior Night at Bob Shore Stadium and were faced with the task of slowing down Glendale’s Alex Hutson, who is the best statistical quarterback in the United States. Thankfully, Camdenton was up to the challenge and pulled away with a 63-36 win. 

To get the job done, the “Hogs” among the offensive line kept Hutson and the Falcon offense off the field by moving the chains and the “Purple Haze” defense managed to break the gunslinger’s rhythm with a relentless pass rush and a secondary that stayed on its toes and forced four turnovers. Camdenton held just a slim 29-28 lead at halftime, but outscored the visitors 34 to 8 over the final two quarters to run away with it. 

“Coach (Nick) Bruck, (Tim) McDuffy, (Shawn) Maschino and (Steve) Bayless did a fantastic job of getting our guys ready. I need to mention those guys because they really came up with a great plan and studied a lot of film,” Camdenton coach Jeff Shore said of the preparation. “You are not going to shut them down because they are very good at what they do and their quarterback is the best in America as far as stats go so we played awfully well tonight.” 

And while the coaches did well to prepare, Shore offered just as much praise for his players. 

“Our kids are the ones who played it and they did a great job of executing. So many guys got in there and played,” the coach added on a night where Hutson attempted 63 passes.

However, the night did not start out that way as the contest looked like it would be slated for an offensive shootout with both sides trading blows and quickly finding the end zone. 

Glendale threw the first punch needing just under 30 seconds to hit pay dirt on a 38-yard touchdown pass to go up 8-0, but Camdenton instantly responded with a 90-yard kickoff return from senior speedster Jake Hill as the wideout outran Falcon defenders and took the ball up the left sideline. Then, senior fullback Seth Harris ran in for the 2-point conversion to tie it. 

“That was super important and it was so long ago that I almost forgot about it,” joked Shore after a game that took three hours to complete. “You have to match them (Glendale) with some big plays because you have to keep up with the scoring pace.” 

The Lakers continued to match that pace. After a 22-yard Glendale touchdown pass to make it 16-8, Camdenton’s offense was stuffed on the ensuing drive, but an interception from senior defensive back Jackson Ezard on the next defensive series put the Lakers back in business. A few plays later,  senior quarterback Isaiah Lumley found a streaking Hill across the middle for a 61-yard touchdown pass to chop the deficit to 16-14. 

Then it was junior defensive back Jaben Shockley’s turn to pull down an interception. The Falcons would regain the lead again on a 9-yard touchdown pass to go up 22-14, and had a chance to extend the lead after another empty Laker offensive drive, but Shockley scooped up a dropped pass just before it hit the ground to set his team up at the Glendale 40-yard line. Then the offense complimented him with a 24-yard touchdown run from Harris on the final play of the first quarter. A Lumley pass to Ezard added another two points on the board to tie the game up at 22. 

“Honestly, I got beat, but he (Glendale) receiver dropped it so it was just right there and I picked it up,” Shockley said of the interception. “I thought the defense killed it. That kid is the top passer in the nation and we held them to 36 points so I thought that was pretty sweet.” 

Glendale was not done just yet though as a 29-yard strike found the end zone to put the Falcons back on top 28-22. It seemed another offensive drive would come up empty for the Lakers after punting the ball away on the following drive, but the ball touched the foot of the Glendale punt returner and senior Gabe Kurtz pounced on the pigskin to give his team the ball back at the Glendale 44-yard line. Moments later, Camdenton captured its first lead of the night on a 2-yard touchdown dive from Harris who flew over the top of the pile to make it 29-28. 

Once Camdenton had the lead, it had no intention of giving it up and the Lakers did not even have to attempt a single pass on any of it drives in the second half. The Lakers marched back out of the locker room and the “Hogs” went to work as Camenton ran the ball straight through the Falcon defense. Harris found the end zone on a 1-yard run, a 60-yard fake reverse and another 15-yard run that saw Camdenton put up 20 unanswered points. Senior running back Jay Griffin and senior fullback Bo Shore put up the final scores of the night on touchdown runs of 10 yards and seven yards respectively.

“The holes were just enormous. I mean, it was straight brute power over and over,” Harris said in regards to an offensive line that allowed him to put up five total touchdowns on the night. “It’s a blast because when that happens we are winning. 

“You can’t let off the pedal and you have to go all four quarters,” Harris added.

Coach Shore was just as happy on the sidelines after seeing the way his team responded over the final two quarters.  

“We put it behind ‘Big Harry’ (Harrison Brownell), (Josh) Semau and (Grant) Norton all night long and those guys came through,” Shore said of the offensive line. “Against a team like this that is what you have to do. You cannot get in a back-and-forth throwing match with them and you have to control the ball. Credit to our offensive line for the job that they did… Pounding the ball was super effective and that was ultimately what won us the ballgame.”

Of course, with the line taking care of things up front, the Laker running backs wore down the Falcon defense time and time again. Griffin led all ball carriers with 129 yards, Harris put up 107 and Shore put up 41 yards respectively. Overall, Camdenton rushed for 290 yards on the night.

“It was great to have Jay Griffin back, Seth Harris did his normal thing and Bo Shore cleaned it up,” the coach stated. “Then those two power backs between (Todd) Simpson and (Ryan) Maasen, you talk about blocking all night long and pounding the hammer. It was just a great night.” 

On the defensive side, Camdenton added one more turnover when Maasen, who blocked an extra point earlier, forced a fumble by punching the ball out of the hands of a Glendale receiver for junior defensive back Andrew Butts to scoop up. Numerous penalties put Glendale’s offense in a funk and sacks from seniors Cory Eskridge, Mason Bowles and Kurtz did not help things either. 

Glendale’s final score of the night came on a 17-yard touchdown pass, but the game was well out of hand. Hutson, who came into the contest with 3,907 passing yards, 48 touchdowns and nine interceptions, left with 366 yards, five touchdowns and two picks. 

While any win is certainly enjoyable, Camdenton managed to give its seniors a good night with the Senior Night victory and Shore said this class is as deserving as any. 

“It is fantastic for those guys. Obviously, my son is that age so I know those guys on a personally,” the coach pointed out. “They have all probably ate at my table at some point in time. I am glad for them because they put in a lot of work and effort and they stuck together so I am really happy for my guys.” 

Camdenton wraps up the regular season at 7-2 and the Lakers will be looking forward to preparing for the district playoffs. The Lakers will host a familiar Ozark Conference foe in Hillcrest that the Lakers knocked off 35-13 in the home and season opener. However, Shore said this is not exactly the same Hillcrest team. 

“They have improved immensely from the first game this season,” Shore said of a team that finished the regular season at 5-4. “We were really ready to play that game and played a really good ballgame to beat them so we are going to have to play another really good ballgame to beat them again. We are going to have to be ready to go and just get after it.” 

Camdenton and Hillcrest will battle to keep their seasons alive Friday night at 7 p.m.