The offense scored quickly, the defense was relentless and the top-seeded Camdenton Lakers remain perfect in 2019 after taking down No. 4 Washington with a 56-7 win in the Class 4 District 5 semifinals.
It was exactly what one might expect from an unbeaten team.
The offense scored quickly, the defense was relentless and the top-seeded Camdenton Lakers remain perfect in 2019 after taking down No. 4 Washington with a 56-7 win in the Class 4 District 5 semifinals at Bob Shore Stadium Friday night. The win sent Camdenton back to the district title game where the Lakers will look to defend their throne against Highway 5 rival Lebanon next week.
"I thought the defense played really good and the offense, we've gotten better. Over the last two weeks we've worked really hard on our offensive end and it showed tonight I thought," Camdenton coach Jeff Shore said. "That was a nine-win ballclub so we feel good about the way we played and it was just a good night."
Hard to imagine anything needing much more improvement than what was on display Friday night. The "Purple Haze" defense did not allow an offensive touchdown and the Laker offense quickly jumped out to 19-0 lead after the first eight minutes.
Camdenton needed just five plays and 54 seconds to drive 74 yards for a touchdown on the opening possession of the night as senior quarterback Paxton DeLaurent found senior receiver Antione Lockhart for a score from 37 yards out. Just four offensive plays later, it was 13-0 after DeLaurent hit senior wideout Collin Thomas for a 24-yard touchdown pass to put a stamp on a 64-yard drive.
That kind of narrative did not vary much the rest of the way.
After Camdenton extended its lead to 19-0 on its next offensive possession with a second touchdown pass to Thomas on a 9-yard strike, the visiting Blue Jays did manage to pick up their only score of the night on a 56-yard interception return for a touchdown with 20 seconds left in the first quarter. However, Washington's offense did not reach Laker territory until there was about five minutes remaining before halftime and even that drive was halted by a turnover on downs at the Camdenton 46-yard line on a failed fake punt pass attempt that was swatted away. Things did not fare much better in the second half for Washington as the Lakers scooped up three Blue Jay fumbles.
"Very motivated," Camdenton senior defensive back Talon Randazzo said of the defense while also having a nice night offensively with three touchdown receptions. "Especially with our coach's karate kick after every shutout. It is the best thing ever, just going to keep going at it."
The senior was referring to his defensive coordinator Nick Bruck who displays his karate skills for the team with a roundhouse kick after every shutout. Turns out, the coach has been able to get a few good kicks in since his defensive starters have allowed just one touchdown in the last four games while pitching a third straight shutout. Camdenton's defense allowed just 174 yards of offense with 132 of those yards coming on the ground.
Meanwhile, the Laker offense continued to reward the efforts of the defense. Randazzo hauled in his first touchdown of the night on an 18-yard pass from DeLaurent early in the second quarter and senior fullback Ryan Maasen punched in a 1-yard run as the Lakers went up 34-7 at halftime after a 2-point conversion throw to Thomas.
Camdenton's opening possession of the second half saw Randazzo catch a 7-yard touchdown pass from DeLaurent and the duo hooked up again on the next series for a 21-yard score. Randazzo finished the night with six receptions for 70 yards.
"It is just having trust with Paxton. I mean, we have a lot of key players," Randazzo said. "Cooper (Ezard), Jase (Nicklas), Collin and Jadin (Faulconer). You just have to get wide open and he has the trust for all of us."
The numbers certainly seem to suggest so. DeLaurent finished the night completing 25 of his 31 passes for 376 yards and six touchdowns. Lockhart had five receptions for 99 yards, Thomas caught five passes for 72 yards, Nicklas caught a 44-yard throw and Faulconer pulled in three receptions for 40 yards as eight different Lakers recorded at least one catch.
"I thought Paxton played really great tonight. I thought he made some really great decisions and I thought our receivers blocked really well tonight," Shore said of his quarterback who managed to hit targets in tight windows and mostly remain elusive to Blue Jay tacklers. "The guys up front, our 'Hoggies,' blocked well too and did a nice job protecting 'Pac.' We were clicking tonight so it was good. We are going to have to be clicking next week to move on."
Senior tailback Ethan Harris concluded the scoring for Camdenton on a 22-yard run before the end of the third quarter and the team finished with 125 rushing yards overall. DeLaurent led the way with 43 yards and Faulconer put up 38.
Camdenton (11-0) is now set up for a rematch with rival Lebanon (9-2) for the district championship Friday night.
The Lakers and Yellowjackets both spent the entire season ranked in the weekly Class 4 statewide media poll with Camdenton finishing the regular season ranked second in the state only behind Webb City while Lebanon finished sixth. When the two sides met earlier this season, the Lakers beat the Yellowjackets on the road in a 28-0 shutout for the Highway 5 trophy.
"We are just going to keep doing what we are doing, play even harder, get ready for them in practice and give 110 percent all the time," Randazzo said of the upcoming rematch.
"Love being under the lights, the wild crowd and best student section ever. Could not ask for more."
Shore also acknowledged that motivation will clearly not be an issue and will look to have his guys ready to go for the Friday night kickoff at 7 p.m.
"We kind of look to see what they are doing if they put any wrinkles in to get ready for and see what changed up from last time," he said as the team pursues its 28th district championship in program history. "We'll just keep working and try to do the best we can to stop them on defense and do the best we can to score."