Versailles Tigers, Camdenton Lakers and Eldon Mustangs

Versailles eyeing trip to district championship at El Dorado Springs

Versailles was at home for the first round of the Class 2 District 4 playoffs Friday night and the third-seeded Tigers did not disappoint in front of the home crowd in a 48-6 win over No. 6 East Newton.

Versailles built up a 48-0 lead by halftime and that was more than enough output by the offense as the Patriots did not find the end zone until time expired.

Versailles junior quarterback Coby Williams had an efficient night as the signal caller completed 15 of his 17 passes for 182 yards, five touchdowns and just one interception. He also led the team with 72 rushing yards and another score on just seven carries. Freshman quarterback Adam Radcliff also got a few snaps Friday night, completing five of seven passes for 85 yards and an interception.

There were plenty of Tigers to throw the ball to as nine different Versailles receivers caught a pass. Senior Colbey Boicourt hauled in two receptions for 78 yards and two touchdowns to lead the way, senior Wyatt Espinosa caught three passes for 57 yards, junior Brayden Morrison pulled in three passes for 43 yards and two touchdowns, freshman Logan Rand caught three passes for 33 yards and junior Dallas Waller had four receptions for 29 yards and a score. Meanwhile, senior running back Michael Trotter added 32 rushing yards on seven carries and junior running back Brycen Reynolds finished his night with 21 yards on three carries.

By the time the clock hit zero, Versailles put up 363 yards of offense.

The Tiger defense was led by linebackers Trotter and Reynolds who recorded five tackles each on a night where the defense forced five turnovers. Morrison picked off two passes and both Boicourt and junior defensive back Payton LaFoy had an interception each while sophomore defensive back Michael Bell recovered a fumble. East Newton finished the night with 179 yards of offense.

Now, Versailles (6-4) will go back on the road to take on No. 2 El Dorado Springs (8-2) in the district semifinals on Friday at 7 p.m. The Bulldogs dismantled Warsaw 56-20 in their first round game.

El Dorado Springs is currently scoring 31.4 points and giving up 13.2 points per contest while Versailles is putting up 29.4 points and allowing 26.7 points respectively.

Perhaps one of the best things about Versailles’ most recent win was how many different Tigers contributed to the effort. A similar output will likely lead to more success.

Williams has kept defenses on their toes all season with 1,349 yards, 14 touchdowns and just six interceptions through the air and another 1,290 yards and 22 touchdowns on the ground. Espinosa has been the top receiving threat all season with 39 receptions for 511 yards and seven touchdowns. Waller (36 receptions, 331 yards, one touchdown) and Morrison (16 receptions, 210 yards, two touchdowns) can also do some damage and Boicourt can usually be counted upon as a redbone threat with four touchdowns on just six receptions for 113 yards. On the ground, Trotter provides fresh legs with 462 yards on 102 carries for two touchdowns and Reynolds has added 49 tough yards and two scores on 138 carries.

Facing an El Dorado Springs offense that is seemingly potent, the defense will need to step up once again as well. Trotter leads all Tiger tacklers with 132 on the season averaging 13.2 per game to go with three sacks. A few turnovers would not hurt the Versailles cause either and Boicourt will also need to be on his toes with four interceptions on the season and Williams and Morrison both have two. Overall, the unit has forced 15 turnovers on the year.

Time will soon tell if the Tigers have what it takes.

Camdenton looking to defend home turf in semifinal matchup with Helias

Camdenton left no doubt on the field Friday night.

The top-seeded Lakers hosted No. 8 Pacific in the first round of the Class 4 District 5 playoffs and knowing a loss would end the season, the Lakers put their foot on the gas early, putting up 42 points in the first quarter en route to a 55-7 win.

The offensive clinic began on the ground as senior tight end Austin Rippe busted open an 80-yard run to the house just over two minutes into the contest. Not long after, junior quarterback Paxton DeLaurent unleashed his arm finding senior receiver Gabe Kurtz for a 61-yard score. Up next was a 69-yard punt return for a touchdown by Kurtz and that was followed by an 11-yard DeLaurent touchdown strike to senior receiver Jaben Shockley, a 20-yard touchdown pass to Shockley and another 20-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Cash Calton to wrap up the first quarter.

DeLaurent continued to spread the love in the second frame, finding sophomore receiver Cooper Ezard for a 3-yard touchdown and sophomore quarterback Mason Draper put the final stamp on with a 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. Pacific’s lone touchdown of the night came on a four-yard run in the third.

Camdenton put up 476 total yards of offense before the night was through and yielded only 88 to Pacific.

DeLaurent completed 20 of his 26 passes for 302 yards and five touchdowns and Calton was his top target with six receptions for 100 yards. Meanwhile, sophomore running back Andrew Butts pulled in four receptions for 48 yards and a total of 10 different Lakers caught at least one pass. On the ground, Rippe led all ball carriers with his big 80-yard run while junior running back Ethan Harris put up 62 yards on just two carries as the team finished with 208 yards on the ground.

On the defensive side of the ball, senior defensive lineman Kylan Draper led the “Purple Haze” with four total tackles and he, junior defensive lineman Tommy Garagnani, senior linebacker Jackson Rideout and one other unnamed Laker each had a sack. Junior defensive back Collin Thomas had two interceptions and both senior linebacker Lathan Wise and Kurtz had an interception as well.

Up next for Camdenton (9-1) is fifth-seeded Helias Catholic (4-6) who knocked off Union in the first round 46-21. The Lakers will host the Crusaders on Friday night at 7 p.m.

Helias comes into the contest averaging 30 points and giving up 37.8 points per game. By comparison, Camdenton is scoring 49.5 points and allowing 15.2 points per contest. The Lakers have only allowed one touchdown in each of their past two contests and have only scored less than 49 points once since a loss to West Plains back on September 7.

There is clearly no shortage of options in a Camdenton offense averaging 386.8 yards per game.

DeLaurent (3,142 yards, 38 touchdowns and five interceptions) has been distributing the ball all season and Kurtz is currently the team’s leading receiver with 43 receptions for 721 yards and four touchdowns. Calton (37 receptions, 450 yards, eight touchdowns), Shockley (36 receptions, 566 yards, five touchdowns), senior receiver Dylan Tufts (26 receptions, 286 yards, five touchdowns), Wise (20 receptions, 459 yards, six touchdowns) and sophomore receiver Cooper Ezard (19 receptions, 202 yards, six touchdowns) know how to get open as well. On the ground, sophomore tailback Eli Griffin (37 carries, 157 yards, 11 touchdowns) can compliment the offense as well.

The Laker defense is currently allowing 190.7 yards per game and Kurtz leads the tackling department with 36 total tackles while junior linebacker Ryan Maasen has 29 and Shockley has 28. Kurtz and Thomas have been ballhawks as well with three interceptions each while Wise has two. Overall, Camdenton has forced 21 total turnovers with 13 of those being interceptions and eight different defenders have at least one interception.

If Camdenton gets off to yet another nice start as it has usually done all year, the Lakers may soon find themselves playing for a district championship on their home turf the following week.

Eldon hoping to earn trip to third straight district championship game

If Eldon plans to defend its district title, it certainly got off to a nice start on that journey Friday night.

The fourth-seeded Mustangs hosted fifth-seeded Salem in Class 3 District 5 action and Eldon was ready to go as the Mustangs jumped out to a 20-7 halftime lead and found a way to shut down the Tigers the rest of the night in a 28-7 win that sent Eldon back to the district semifinals for the fourth straight year.

“We just came prepared,” said Eldon junior Logan Hall, a running back and defensive back who put together a number of big plays on both sides of the ball Friday night. “We knew they (Salem) were all going to be big. I think everybody just worked as hard as they could this week and realized that if we lose, we go home and it is pretty much over.

“But we came out, did everything we could and we came up with the win.”

Well, it certainly helps to generate some momentum and that is precisely what Eldon managed to seize in the early going. When it looked like Salem was going to score on the opening drive of the game, the Mustangs stood their ground and stopped the Tigers in their tracks on 4th-and-goal from the 2-yard line. That initial response from the Eldon defense would become a theme for the rest of the night as the Mustangs either forced a turnover or a turnover on downs on six of Salem’s eight drives and all of them came in Eldon territory with half of them coming with 10 or less yards to go.

After the initial stop on their own 2-yard line, the Mustangs responded with a 98-yard drive that featured a 56-yard pass from senior quarterback Dawson Brandt to Hall after a tip from a Salem defender and a 26-yard run touchdown run by Hall on the very next play to make it 7-0.

Salem did not disappoint with its next possession, though, marching 64 yards to the house on a drive that was capped by a 32-yard touchdown run to tie the game back up. However, it was the final time Salem would put points on the scoreboard.

Eldon answered right back with a 17-yard touchdown run from junior tailback Isaiah Parsons and the Tigers were knocking on the door once again with the ensuing drive, but disaster struck once again. A fumble on a play from the Eldon 9-yard line resulted in a fumble that junior defensive back Nathaniel Wardenburg recovered in the end zone for a touchback, stymieing yet another potential scoring opportunity. The Mustaßßngs made sure to take advantage, too, as they took the ball and found the end zone once again on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Brandt to Hall just before halftime. After a failed extra point, the Mustangs were up 20-7 heading into the locker rooms.

Salem tried to regain some momentum with a pooch kick to start the second half that the Tigers recovered at the Eldon 45-yard line. But just a few plays later, the Tigers were stuffed for the first of four straight turnover on downs to conclude the night. One of those stops came from Hall who broke up a pass on 4th-and-6 on the Mustang 8-yard line.

As for Eldon, the Mustangs had one more scoring drive left in them. Facing a 4th-and-5 at the Salem 35-yard line, Brandt and Hall connected one more time on a 34-yard pass that put Eldon on Salem’s 1-yard line and Brandt finished the drive with a 1-yard quarterback sneak. A two-point conversion run by the quarterback created the final margin.

Hall led the ground attack with 82 rushing yards on 14 carries, Brandt finished with 64 yards on nine carries, Parsons added 63 yards on eight carries and freshman running back Ethan Wood finished his night with 59 yards on seven carries respectively. Brandt finished his night completing three of his five pass attempts for 92 yards and all three of those completed passes went to Hall. Hult was glad to see the two on the same page.

Eldon improves to 6-4 on the season and will now turn its attention to top-seeded Springfield Catholic (8-2). The Mustangs will visit the Fighting Irish on Friday at 7 p.m. Eldon coach Chad Hult said the message to his club throughout the postseason has been “one more week” and Hall and company certainly would not mind adding another week to the season.

Now, a trip to the district championship is on the line.

“We just have to come in and be ready to work every day just like we did this week,” Hall said.

Springfield Catholic had little trouble dismantling Logan-Rogersville in the first round with a 42-7 win, but the Fighting Irish will not be taking anything for granted against a Mustang team that has ended their postseason two years in a row. Springfield Catholic is currently averaging 33.7 points and allowing 16.6 points per contest. Meanwhile, Eldon is scoring 24.5 points and giving up 24.9 points per outing.

Facing what seems like a sharp defense, Eldon will need to establish its running game once again, but show it can be just as dangerous with the pass like the Mustangs displayed in the first round against Salem.

The team is currently averaging 5.1 yards per carry while closing in on another 3,000 yard rushing season and Parsons has led the charge with 927 yards and 12 touchdowns, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Hall (770 yards, 5.7 yards per carry, three touchdowns) and Brandt (708 yards, 6.2 yards per carry, eight touchdowns) round out the three-headed monster while Wood has eclipsed the century mark for the season with 135 yards and a score in his first season on the gridiron.

Through the air, Brandt has put up 342 yards and two touchdowns to go with six interceptions, but the errant throws have not been too costly. Hall has also put together a nice season in the passing game with 19 receptions for 356 yards and five touchdowns while senior tight end Charlie Mays has added four receptions for 123 yards.

If the offensive line is up to the task of moving the chains and the defense puts together another solid effort that led to four straight turnovers on downs in last week’s win against Salem, the Mustangs may very well have the privilege of playing for another district championship next week.