Cards move on to district championship game

An old adage states that success is the result of preparation meeting opportunity.

John Roderique and the Webb City Cardinals are firm believers in the old saying.

A dominant first half led No. 1 Webb City to a convincing 40-14 victory over No. 4 Camdenton in a Class 4 District 5 semifinal on a chilly Friday night at Cardinal Stadium.

Webb City (11-0) will now have the opportunity to host No. 2 Carl Junction (10-1) at 7 p.m. next Friday in the district title game.

As far as preparation leading to success, Roderique noted his team’s stellar first half, one that saw the Cardinals execute well both offensively and defensively, was a direct result of a great week of practice.

“Our coaches work a tremendous amount of hours, our kids buy in and they believe in what we’re doing and I thought our guys went out and executed what we’ve worked on,” Roderique said. “It was a good night, no question.”

In the first meeting between the traditional powers since 2005, the Cardinals had a comfortable 21-0 advantage by intermission en route to victory.

“We played a really good team and our guys stepped up and rose to the occasion,” Roderique said. “They played exceptionally well. The defense was just flat out good tonight.”

It would be hard to argue with that assessment.

Webb City’s stout defense did not allow Camdenton to record a first down in the first half. At the half, the Lakers had just one yard of offense, as the Cardinals had recorded several tackles for loss.

“We just knew we had to play our best,” said Webb City senior linebacker Elijah Robinson, who led the Cards with eight tackles. “We wanted to get a lot of three and outs and get the defense off the field.”

Like his head coach, Robinson noted solid preparation in practice was a key to victory.

“Our coaches put it in our head’s every week that if we do what we’re supposed to do, good things will happen,” Robinson said. “And that’s what happened again tonight.”

Webb City recorded 335 yards of total offense, with 206 on the ground and 129 through the air.

Senior quarterback Cash Link ran nine times for 69 yards, while junior Durand Henderson contributed 47 rushing yards on 15 carries. Link completed 10-of-14 passes and junior Alex Gaskill had six receptions for 87 yards with two scores.

Camdenton compiled 165 yards of offense, 123 rushing and 42 passing. Jay Griffin ran nine times for 95 yards and two touchdowns for the Lakers, while Isaiah Lumley completed 10-of-17 passes for 42 yards and Jacob Hill caught six passes for 23 yards. Todd Simpson and Gabe Kurtz recorded 11 tackles apiece for Jeff Shore’s Lakers, who end the season at 8-3.

The Lakers committed three turnovers—two fumbles and an interception.

All three of Webb City’s first-half touchdowns came through the air.

Link connected with Gaskill for a pair of touchdowns, a 19-yard strike in the first quarter and a 17-yard play in the second quarter.

“We knew they were coming up strong on the run, so we threw a couple over their heads and it worked every time,” Gaskill said.

Senior tight end Drake Tweed hauled in an eight-yard touchdown pass from Link at the 4:10 mark of the second period for a 21-0 halftime lead.

Webb City quickly extended its lead once the second half began.

Senior linebacker Brenyn Surber intercepted Lumley’s pass on the first play of the third period, and two plays later, senior Will Larson charged in from eight yards out to give the Cardinals a 27-0 lead.

Senior Tylor Morehead scored a one-yard touchdown run at the start of the final frame to give Webb City a commanding 34-0 cushion.

Camdenton received a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown runs by Griffin, while Webb City’s final score came on a one-yard run by senior Jacob Gettings.

Now, the Cardinals will turn their attention to the rival Bulldogs, who they knocked off 27-12 in the season-opener.

“They’re a great team, they’re well-coached and it should be a great atmosphere for a football game in Southwest Missouri,” Roderique said.