Eldon Mustangs, Camdenton Lakers, Versailles Tigers

Eldon looking to return to district title game in rematch with Springfield Catholic

The Eldon Mustangs earned their ninth win of the season and advanced to the second round of Class 3 District 3 playoffs after hanging 72 points on the visiting Buffalo Bison who finished the season 3-7.

The Mustang offense led by junior quarterback Dawson Brandt, junior fullback Isaiah Parsons and senior running back Isaiah Merida combined for over 500 yards of total offense as Eldon scored 10 total touchdowns.

After three quarters of play, Brandt had three passing touchdowns and a rushing score, while Parsons added four rushing touchdowns. Merida hauled in one of those touchdown passes along with sophomore running back Logan Hall, senior tight end Cole Walker and senior wideout Austin Pipes.

In a night of big hits and long runs, the Mustang triple-option attack and capitalizing defense proved too much for the Bison to handle as they surrender 52 points in the first 24 minutes of play while countering with 26 points of their own.

Brandt finished the night connecting on five of his eight pass attempts for 151 yards and four touchdowns with a single interception through the air. Merida hauled in two of those catches for 66 yards while Hall hauled in a catch for 54 yards, Walker pulled one down for 16 yards and Pipes took in a 15-yard catch respectively. On the ground, Parsons led all ball carriers with 219 yards, Brandt put up 169 and Merida added 107 of his own to be the third Mustang over the century mark. Overall, Eldon rushed for 535 total yards on the evening.

Next week, the 9-1 No. 2 Mustangs will take on the 8-2 No. 3 Springfield Catholic Fighting Irish, who are coming off a 33-21 win over the School of the Osage, in the semifinal round of the district playoffs. Last year, Eldon shutout Springfield Catholic 35-0 in the first round of the playoffs, but the Mustangs will certainly not take anything for granted.

Eldon’s offense is currently averaging 50.5 points per contest while the defense is allowing 26.5 points respectively. Meanwhile, Springfield Catholic is averaging 29.1 points per game and the defense is giving up 23.5 points of its own.

Like the Mustangs, Springfield Catholic is at its best when it can thrive on the run as was showcased last week when quarterback Tyson Riley rushed for 176 yards and four scores and the Fighting Irish put up 336 yards on the ground overall. However, Springfield Catholic will have plenty to worry about as well with Merida (1,369 yards, 18 touchdowns), Parsons (1,088 yards, 20 touchdowns) and Brandt (678 yards, 10 touchdowns) respectively. Brandt also showed how finely tuned the passing game was in the win over Buffalo too.

Time will soon tell soon tell if Eldon can advance to its second straight district championship game when the Mustangs and Fighting Irish meet at Victor Field on Friday night at 7 p.m.

Camdenton looking to take down undefeated Webb City in district semifinal clash

Camdenton is moving on.

The Lakers ended their brief two-year drought of no playoff wins Friday night with a 39-12 victory over visiting Hillcrest in an Ozark Conference rematch. It is a drought Camdenton senior fullback Todd Simpson is glad to see end.

“This is probably the most fun team I’ve ever played on,” said Simpson who led the Lakers with two rushing touchdowns in the district opener. “This is the first postseason win for our class of seniors so we are pretty excited about it and we are looking to get another one next week against Webb City.”

Simpson’s efforts were part of the successful formula, but it was a complete team effort with highlights from multiple Lakers on both sides of the ball. Camdenton built up a 23-0 lead by halftime and never let the Hornets get within striking distance.

Offensively, Camdenton often employed its historically traditional style of “Smashmouth” football where the Lakers dared Hillcrest to stop the run. Thanks to the “Hogs” up front on the offensive line, Camdenton was able to consistently move the chains and wear out the Hornets.

Camdenton needed just over three minutes and 53 yards to find the end zone on its first drive as the Lakers pounded the rock straight through the Hornet defense with run after run. Eventually, Simpson broke through the line and ran virtually untouched for a 33-yard touchdown to put his team up 7-0. After Hillcrest followed that up with a three-and-out on its first drive, Camdenton lined up and did it again. This time, the Lakers marched 85 yards and finished off the drive with a 24-yard jet sweep touchdown run from senior wideout Jake Hill to make it 14-0 by the end of the first quarter.

Hillcrest started to find a little traction on the next series, but a sack from Camdenton sophomore defensive lineman Mason Kinney disrupted the Hornets’ flow and Hillcrest gave the Lakers the ball back with a turnover on downs at the Laker 15-yard line. Then, Camdenton put together another punishing 85-yard drive that culminated in a 1-yard touchdown run from senior running back Jay Griffin who flew over the top of the pile. Hillcrest proceeded to give the Lakers two more points when a botched snap that flew over the head of quarterback Haden Parton resulted in Parton kicking the ball out of the end zone just before the half.

In the second half, senior Gabe Kurtz got things started with a kickoff return to the Camdenton 47-yard line and a few plays later, the Lakers converted a 4th-and-8 on a 26-yard pass from senior quarterback Isaiah Lumley to senior wide receiver Jackson Ezard. Facing another 4th down, Simpson plowed his way through the line for a 1-yard score.

Camdenton’s “Purple Haze” defense did not make things any easier either as the unit proceeded to force two straight Hillcrest turnovers. The first one came when Kurtz, who plays defensive back, tipped a pass for his fellow defensive back Ezard to pull down for an interception. Then a sack from senior defensive lineman Connor Whitney forced a fumble on the next series for Kinney to scoop up at the Hillcrest 40-yard line.

The offense soon rewarded him with a 15-yard touchdown pass from Lumley to the tight end Rasmussen on a corner route to make it 36 to 6. Camdenton put together one last scoring drive that saw senior kicker Coleman Baker blast a 38-yard field goal through the uprights with 29 seconds left to create the final margin.

Griffin led all ball carriers with 117 yards on the ground and Simpson added 74 rushing yards of his own. Overall, the Lakers rushed for a total of 265 yards respectively. Meanwhile Lumley completed three of his five pass attempts for 52 yards through the air.

The drought is over, but the road does not get any easier for Camdenton (8-2) as the Lakers, who entered this week as the No. 10 Class 4 team in the state, will travel to southwest Missouri next Friday to face Webb City in the district semifinals. The undefeated Cardinals (10-0) entered the district playoffs as the top-ranked Class 4 team in the state.

There are a total of 18 state championships between the two programs with Webb City winning 13 of them and Camdenton winning five of its own. The last time these two sides met was in 2005 when Camdenton topped Webb City 21-14 in the quarterfinals on its way to the fifth state title. Now, only one of these teams will get the opportunity to move on and pursue another when the Lakers and Cardinals clash Friday night.

“We are super excited about the opportunity. Obviously, they are an unbelievable program,” Shore said of next week’s opponent. “There are four programs in the state of Missouri that are in the (Missouri) Sports Hall of Fame and two of them are going to play next Friday night. Hopefully we can go down there, make it a good ballgame and be ready to go.”

Webb City is putting up 42.4 points per game and the Cardinals have allowed just 7.8 points per game respectively with the smallest margin of victory being a 15-point win in the season opener against Carl Junction. By comparison, Camdenton is averaging 37.4 points per game and the Lakers have allowed 24.5 points of their own.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Versailles eyeing trip to district title game with semifinal battle at Fair Grove

It came down to the final half when Versailles visited El Dorado Springs in the first round of a Class 2 district playoff game Friday night.

The Tigers decided they wanted to play another week of football and made sure the second half belonged to them in a 34-29 win over the Bulldogs. It is the first playoff win for the program since the modern format began in 2012.

Versailles trailed by as many as 16 points early in the first half, but the Tigers had no intention of closing the curtians and going away. Versailles fought back to tie the game up at 22 by halftime. That seeded plenty of momentum for the Tigers to come out strong in the final two quarters.

“Our kids played a great game,” Versailles coach Broc Silvers noted. “We showed great resolve to get a few stops and started finishing drives. Coby Williams and Taylor Dobbins had great nights on offense and it seemed like Michael Trotter made every tackle in the second half.”

Indeed, the offense certainly started to find its legs as the Tigers rushed for a total of 207 yards on the night. Senior tailback Taylor Dobbins led the Versailles ground game with 134 yards and a touchdown on the night while sophomore quarterback Coby Williams added 65 more yards and barreled his way into the end zone on three seperate occasions.

Through the air, Williams completed six of his 11 passes for 106 yards and two touchdown passes. Dobbins was on the receiving end of one of those touchdowns as he also led the receiving corps with three receptions for 52 yards. Junior wideout Wyatt Espinosa put up two catches for 39 yards and senior wide receiver Kooper Wilson made his only catch of the night count on a 15-yard touchdown reception.

El Dorado Springs was all about the rushing attack Friday night as the Bulldogs rushed for 360 yards while only putting up 38 total yards through the air. However, the Tigers were able to keep the opponent at bay and junior linebacker Michael Trotter played a big role in that with a team-leading 17.5 tackles. Sophomore linebacker Gage Tessier also did his part adding seven tackles of his own.

Now, No. 6 Versailles (3-7) will visit No. 2 Fair Grove (8-2) in the district semifinals Friday night looking to earn a spot in the district championship game. For Silvers and his program, the playoffs have been like a brand new season.

“As we have talked about all season, the only week that truly matters is week 10 and beyond,” the coach said. “In this format where everyone has a shot to win, the first nine weeks really just seed you out, but we would have liked to host that game in front of our home fans.”

The fans would certainly enjoy a trip to the district championship game, but the next opponent standing in the way will not be an easy one to get through as Fair Grove comes into the contest on a four-game winning streak including a 44-0 shutout over Stockton last week.

The Eagles are currently averaging 41.3 points per game and the defense is only allowing 18.3 points per contest respectively. Comparitively, Versailles is scoring 19.2 points per outing and the defense is allowing 38.5 points per outing.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.