WEEK 4 PREVIEWS: Camdenton seeking to take down undefeated West Plains

MICHAEL LOSCH, Lake Sun Sports Editor
Camdenton junior Jadin Faulconer.

West Plains has yet to taste defeat this season.

Hillcrest nearly got the best of the Zizzers, coming up just short in a 27-26 defeat in week two, but the team remains unbeaten at 3-0 and the Lakers (2-1) will have a chance to change that when they make the long trek to West Plains for an Ozark Conference showdown Friday night at 7 p.m.

“They are very strong on both sides of the ball. We will have to play really well,” Camdenton coach Jeff Shore said. “No turnovers and weather the early storm. They are very hard to defend as the quarterback is a very good runner.”

The Lakers themselves will enter Friday night on a winning streak of their own, recently taking care of Parkview 46-21 last week. After a little hiccup on the opening kickoff that resulted in a fumble and the Vikings turning that into a 7-0 lead after starting on Camdenton’s 1-yard line, the Lakers quickly regained control and left little doubt about the outcome.

The best part of all may be how many players were given the opportunity to gain some valuable experience. Creating just a little depth out on the field may be useful with an undefeated team coming up next on the schedule.

A total of 14 different receivers logged a reception Friday night in the high-flying passing style of offense the Lakers utilize and eight different Lakers rushed the ball. This summed up to a balanced offensive attack with 240 rushing yards on the night, 276 passing yards and 516 total yards of offense with Camdenton averaging 6.3 yards per play.

Once again, Camdenton’s use of two quarterbacks prevailed in the early going as senior Jacob Wormsley finished 11-18 through the air with 130 yards and a touchdown to go with 19 rushing yards while sophomore Bear Shore completed 10 of his 14 passes for 101 yards and added 66 rushing yards on the ground to keep the Vikings on their heels. Wormsley is now at 493 passing yards on the year with six touchdowns, two interceptions and 93 rushing yards while Shore is at 229 passing yards and two interceptions to go with 57 rushing yards and two scores on the ground.

Among all the sure-handed Lakers at receiver Friday night, returning senior All-State receiver Cooper Ezard nearly eclipsed the century mark for the third straight week with nine catches for 91 yards. Fellow senior Phillip Kurle logged three catches for 39 yards, sophomore Javari Stewart caught two passes for 19 yards and sophomore Kam Durnin had a big play with a 40-yard touchdown reception. Ezard adds to an impressive start, now at 30 catches for 429 yards and five scores through three games while Kurle is at seven catches for 75 yards, senior Eli Griffin is at nine catches for 67 yards and fellow senior Jadin Faulconer is at 11 receptions for 61 yards amongst the top pass catchers.

With the “Hogs” clearing the path up front, Faulconer can certainly run it, too, and he was able to lead the Lakers on the ground Friday night with 128 rushing yards on 15 carries and his first rushing touchdown of the season. Griffin also made good use of his rushes with 23 yards and two touchdowns on four attempts. Through the first three games, Faulconer is currently the lead back with 240 rushing yards, averaging 6.7 yards per touch. After the efforts of both quarterbacks, Griffin is up next with 38 yards on nine carries, averaging 4.2 yards per attempt himself.

After facing Kickapoo (3-0), Waynesville (0-2) and a winless Parkview team, Camdenton is averaging 151.7 rushing yards, 255.7 passing yards and 28 points per game. It will all be put to the test against a West Plains team that cruised to a 43-7 win at Rolla (1-2) last week, only allowing 155 yards of total offense to the Bulldogs. The Zizzers have also faced Glendale (1-2) and Hillcrest (0-3) and are currently giving up 25.7 points per game.

Not invincible, it seems, but Camdenton will need to be sharp for the third straight week after scoring just seven points in the opener at Kickapoo. West Plains was able to take away Rolla’s best offensive strength in the ground game last week, allowing just 85 rushing yards and forcing two fumbles against a team that was averaging 201 rushing yards per game. The Lakers have had a more balanced approach so far this season, but the offense cannot be stymied if the Zizzers choose to key in and try to render certain players ineffective.

On the other side of the ball, the first task for the “Purple Haze” defense will be slowing down the run game and Camdenton defensive coordinator Nick Bruck knows this after West Plains’ senior running back Titus Seley galloped for 131 yards and four touchdowns on 20 carries against Rolla last week. Junior quarterback Dagen Kenslow also caused some damage, rushing for 97 yards and a score while also adding 71 yards through the air.

“We are just working hard to get better each week,” Bruck said after Friday night’s win. “There are so many different offenses throughout the conference; it feels like each week is a new monster. But, we’re going to be ready for it.”

Camdenton’s defense is currently allowing 287.7 yards and 25.7 points per game and opponents have found a balanced approach with the unit allowing 135.3 rushing yards and 152.3 passing yards per contest. Sophomore Wiley Powers (29 tackles), senior Parker Wormek (28 tackles) and sophomore Jaden Parkman (22 tackles) have led the effort so far in 2020 and Wormek has been the most effective disrupting things in the backfield with a team-leading four tackles for a loss so far, which also includes two sacks. Wormek and sophomore Jaden Parkman also had the privilege of recording the first two interceptions of the year last week, recording a pick each.

Camdenton and West Plains have put together some exciting finishes in recent years and Camdenton’s overtime win a season ago was one of its best in 2019. Another fun Friday night may be in store as the Lakers look to spoil what is currently a perfect season early in 2020.

BRAGGING RIGHTS 

Camdenton won last season’s overtime thriller 37-34 with a game-winning field goal from 2020 graduate Luke Galbreath.

WHO’S HOT

More threats are starting to emerge in Camdenton’s offense and Faulconer made his name known in the rushing game against Parkview last week. Also a reliable pass catcher, Faulconer has shown some good stamina early in the season.

WATCH OUT

Seley should be at the top of the list for the “Purple Haze” defense and Kenslow will also have to be contained if Camdenton is going to end the night with more points on the board than the Zizzers.