In the playoffs, those losses are a little tougher as it marks the end of the season and Camdenton endured a loss as tough as any in the Class 4 quarterfinals at Webb City on Saturday.
Someone has to win and someone has to lose.
In the playoffs, those losses are a little tougher as it marks the end of the season and Camdenton endured a loss as tough as any in the Class 4 quarterfinals at Webb City on Saturday. After scoring a touchdown with just five seconds remaining, the Lakers had a chance to tie the game and likely send it to overtime but the ensuing extra point went just wide right instead and resulted in a 28-27 loss to the defending state champion Cardinals.
“It was an absolutely great football game and unfortunately we came out on the short end of it,” Camdenton coach Jeff Shore said. “I could not be more happy with my guys. I love them and they played with everything they had. It is tough when you come up short, but it always happens this way or you keep going. There are only two options, but nothing but love in my heart for our players. They did such an unbelievable job.”
Just to get to that point, Camdenton put together a final drive with just under six minutes remaining where the Lakers marched 87 yards and overcame numerous obstacles along the way. At one point, the Lakers faced a 2nd-and-32 after a botched snap and converted a 4th-and-10 play at the Webb City 30-yard line on a 16-yard pass from junior quarterback Paxton DeLaurent to senior receiver Cash Calton. It eventually came down to 4th-and-inches at the goal line and Camdenton did not disappoint as DeLaurent executed a quarterback sneak and extended the ball over the plane as he quickly outstretched his arm.
For Shore, it exemplified just how potent the Laker offense had been all year in a record-breaking season.
“They are a bunch of fighters and that is why I could not be more proud of them. You are disappointed, but it is easy to hold your head up on what a great job they did because they absolutely fought tooth and nail,” the coach remarked. “It showed on that last drive and you have to tip your cap to Webb City. They are an extremely good football team.”
Then junior kicker Luke Galbreath lined up for the extra point just like any other during a season in which he nailed over 90 percent of his attempts. This one just happened not to go through but after the ensuing onside kick attempt failed and the clock struck zero, Shore consoled his players and did not hesitate to embrace Galbreath. He was not alone either as other Lakers quickly followed suit and went over to hug their kicker.
“There were tons of mistakes in that ballgame. Part of playing ball is putting it on the line,” Shore noted. “I’m really proud of him (Galbreath) and he has had a great and fantastic year. I know that (extra point attempt) shows up on the scoreboard, but there is a bunch of stuff in that ballgame that made a difference. You have to shake that one off and it is tough, but he will and we’ll keep going.”
That was just one of a number of plays that had fans of both teams on the edge of their seats in a playoff showdown between two Missouri Sports Hall of Fame programs.
Camdenton could not have asked for a much better start as DeLaurent hit senior receiver Dylan Tufts on the second play of the game for a 55-yard touchdown on a screen pass up the middle where Tufts outran a pair of Cardinal defenders on his way to the end zone. Unfortunately, Tufts would not be able to contribute much more after suffering a separated shoulder in the second quarter.
“What a great addition he was this year. He moved in from Colorado, and my gosh, he did an unbelievably great job,” Shore said of the senior wideout. “We were playing for him too to try to get him back and hopefully play another game. I hate that for him, but he is going to be alright.”
Meanwhile, the Laker defense kept Webb City quiet on its first two drives as a three-and-out and a fumble recovery from senior defensive lineman Marlin Briggs had the Cardinals frustrated early. Webb City eventually broke through, though, when running back Durand Henderson found some daylight on a 75-yard run up the middle to tie the game with just over four minutes remaining in the first quarter.
After another empty drive early in the second quarter, Camdenton caught another break as Tufts recovered a muffed punt at the Webb City 42-yard line. Just three plays later, the Lakers capitalized on a 37-yard touchdown strike from DeLaurent to senior receiver Jaben Shockley to go up 14-7. A couple of minutes later, Shockley secured a diving interception to stymie another Cardinal drive and unbeaten Webb City would eventually go into the locker room trailing at halftime for the first time all season.
The defensive momentum carried on into the second half. On Webb City’s opening drive, the Lakers snuffed out a reverse on 4th-and-5 and forced a turnover on downs when senior linebacker Garrett Stamper stuffed a Cardinal ball carrier for no gain. On the next Webb City drive, the Cardinals marched 90 yards only to come up empty-handed when junior defensive back Collin Thomas batted down a pass on 4th-and-goal at his own 5-yard line.
“Our defense played unbelievably well,” Shore said of the unit. “You say 28 points, but they played well and good enough to win the game.”
But the momentum did not remain. On the next play, DeLaurent threw his third interception of the day that set the Cardinals up at the Laker 11-yard line. The first two errant throws came in the first half and one of those throws was intercepted at the Cardinals 16-yard line near the end of the first half when Camdenton had a chance to extend its lead. Webb City did not let the opportunity go to waste and quickly tied the game back up at 14 three plays later on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Cade Beason to Gary Clinton with just over three minutes remaining in the third.
On the ensuing drive, Camdenton was stuffed on a 4th-and-1 run up the middle that gave the Cardinals the ball at the Laker 42-yard line. Webb City responded and took its first lead on a 6-yard touchdown run from Sergio Perez early in the fourth quarter. Trailing 21-14, Camdenton’s offense found its spark once again and tied the game on a 10-yard touchdown pass from DeLaurent to Shockley.
Then Webb City marched 65 yards for its last trip to the end zone as Perez punched in a 2-yard run before the final fateful drive from Camdenton.
“It came down to the wire and I feel like we are the second beast team in the state and one point away from being the best. I honestly feel like that and it just happened to get us in the quarterfinals,” Shore said. “I’m really proud of the guys and the standard they’ve carried on for the Laker tradition.
“They were overmatched and oversized in a lot of cases and they just played with an immense amount of heart. I appreciate what they’ve done in setting that standard we always try to play with.”
Camdenton ends the season at 11-2 and it is the most wins any Laker team has put together this decade. There should not be any lack of motivation when the team takes the field next fall after giving the defending state champions a run for their money.
“This lights your fire, it lit our fire last year and these guys came through. I was really proud of the seniors and the tone they set,” Shore stated. “Hopefully we can carry that on. It is disappointing, but at the same time it is hard to be too disappointed when you know you absolutely laid it all on the line.”
When the Lakers get back to work for 2019, Shore’s message is simple.
“Keep carrying on this tradition, let’s keep this thing rolling and get back here again,” the coach said.
This story will be updated with stats at lakenewsonline.com as soon as they become available