Camdenton securing its 500th win in program history sounds like a pretty good way to enter a matchup with its longtime rival just down the road on Highway 5.

Camdenton securing its 500th win in program history sounds like a pretty good way to enter a matchup with its longtime rival just down the road on Highway 5. 

That is precisely what the Lakers (3-3, 3-3 Ozark Conference) did last Friday by beating Hillcrest on the road, 38-14, and the team returns home this week to Bob Shore Stadium to host Lebanon (3-3, 3-3 OC) in another conference showdown. A season ago, these two teams met for a district championship bout the Lakers were able to win, 35-7, and the Yellowjackets will be looking to exact some revenge in their return to the “Jaws of Death” coming off a 63-14 loss at unbeaten West Plains.

Like prior years in the Highway 5 showdown, Camdenton coach Jeff Shore is expecting another chess match that pits his team’s high-flying passing attack against Lebanon’s ground game that seeks to control the clock and dominate time of possession.

“They are really going to control the ball on offense. They do a good job of that so we are going to have to try to get the ball out of their hands,” Shore said of the matchup. “And then, we have to do something with it when we get it. If we have some quick three-and-outs and give it back to them, it is going to be a tough night for us because they are going to possess the ball. Hopefully, they don’t, but that is going to be their plan.” 

Lebanon is currently averaging 32.2 points per game and giving up an average of 27.7. Prior to last week’s game at West Plains, the Yellowjackets had only given up more than 20 points once all season in a 30-26 loss against Kickapoo.  

Will Christian’s program lost some talent from a team that finished 9-3 a season ago and was state-ranked for most of the season, but returning All-Conference senior running back Isaac Ledbetter is back to lead the ground attack behind an experienced offensive line along with fellow senior Antonio Rogers. Rogers is currently the team’s leading rusher with 94 carries for 545 yards (5.8 yards per carry) and six touchdowns with Ledbetter not too far behind him at 51 carries for 513 yards (10.06 yards per carry) and seven scores. Senior Drew McBride is also a threat with 83 carries for 378 yards (4.5 yards per carry) and five scores. Lebanon has totaled just 242 passing yards on the season compared to 2,146 rushing yards, but one man to watch out for in the passing attack is sophomore Jacoby Fultz who has seven catches for 163 yards and a touchdown. 

Overall, the defensive front of the “Purple Haze” defense will need to be sharp and on its toes throughout the night. The Lakers are currently allowing 26.2 points per outing and gave up 268 yards to winless Hillcrest last week with 59 of those yards coming on the ground. However, the unit has had some tough nights in previous outings against some of the conference’s top rushing attacks in Bolivar and West Plains.

As Shore noted, moving the chains on offense will be essential to counter Lebanon’s time of possession and Camdenton can also help itself by making sure most of its drives do not come out empty-handed. The Lakers have been fairly good about that this season, scoring no less than 26 points in four of their six games. Camdenton is currently putting up an average of 262.8 passing yards and 103 rushing yards that equates to 365.8 yards per game and 25.6 points per contest.

Camdenton senior quarterback Jacob Wormsley is currently 108-158 for 1,180 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions and sophomore Bear Shore continues to gain some experience beneath the varsity lights after throwing his first touchdown pass of the season last week. The sophomore is currently 50-77 for 173 yards to go with that touchdown and three interceptions.

Returning senior All-State receiver Cooper Ezard went over the century mark in receiving yards once again last week by catching 11 passes for 150 yards and two scores and he has has eclipsed the century mark in four of the team’s six games, nearly doing so a fifth time after recording 91 receiving yards in a game against Parkview. The senior has 55 total receptions so far in 2020 for 734 yards and eight touchdowns. Meanwhile, fellow senior Jadin Faulconer has put together 41 catches for 260 yards and sophomore Javari Stewart was a reliable target proved to be a reliable target last week with six catches for 47 yards. 

Speaking of reliability, Faulconer led the ground attack once again with 13 carries for 88 yards last week and that puts the dual-threat senior at 60 carries for 347 rushing yards and a touchdown on the season, averaging 5.7 yards per rush. Wormsley is the next best rusher with 36 attempts for 171 yards and a pair of touchdowns, averaging 4.75 yards per carry. Senior Eli Griffin made the most of his attempts last week as he totaled just three yards but added a pair of touchdowns and he is currently at four on the season.

So after dropping a pair of games to unbeaten West Plains and Bolivar (4-2), Camdenton got back on track last week with a winning formula. Regardless of last Friday’s outcome that resulted in the program’s 500th win, Shore said he has been proud of the perseverance of this group.

“I’m just proud of our guys. I think they’ve come in with the attitude of wanting to get better every day,” the coach noted. “They have really stuck together on a few things and we’ve taken a couple of losses that has bothered them, obviously, but they really stuck together and try to get better every day. I think that is the main thing is they are committed to it and hopefully we see the fruits of that labor on these following Friday nights.” 

BRAGGING RIGHTS

Camdenton won both meetings with Lebanon in 2019. The Lakers shut out the Yellowjackets on the road, 28-0, and won the program’s 28th district championship at Bob Shore Stadium, 35-7.

WHO’S HOT

Ezard continues to have the hot hands as he has for most of the season. The senior is proving that his All-State selection a season ago was no accident as he has topped 100 receiving yards in four of six games and has already hauled in eight touchdown receptions. 

WATCH OUT

It is no secret that Lebanon is looking to run the football and Ledbetter will look to inflict most of the damage along with Rogers.