DISTRICT SEMIFINAL PREVIEWS: Camdenton to clash with top seed Washington in rematch
Survive and advance.
Camdenton knows that feeling quite well after the way the Lakers started the postseason in Jefferson City last week. With the game tied at 36 in the final minute, Camdenton senior quarterback Jacob Wormsley found junior receiver Landon Thomas on a play action touchdown pass that gave the Lakers the edge in a 43-36 win over the Jays to advance to the district semifinals.
Now, Camdenton (5-5), seeded fifth in the Class 5 District 4 Tournament, will look to be road warriors once again with a trip to top-seeded Washington Friday night in the district semifinals. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.
“It’s time to regroup and get ready for Washington because we can win that game,” Camdenton coach Jeff Shore said after Friday night’s thriller. “If w play well, we’re hard to beat. We have a shot to beat anyone.”
Well, doing so would put the Lakers in good position to claim a third straight district championship and the program’s 29th overall in its history. Camdenton knocked off Washington in the semifinals of last year’s district tournament on the way to a title. The question is if the Lakers can do it again.
“They look really good,” Shore said of a Washington team that is currently 8-1 on the season and coming off a bye as the top seed after taking down Francis Howell Central, 41-14, in the regular season finale. “Super well-coached and everyone back from last year’s team with a year of growth. They just look like a really good team.”
Washington is currently averaging 34.8 points per game and allowing just 14.4 points per outing, respectively. However, the Jays have played just one team that finished with a winning record this season, Ft. Zumwalt North (8-1), and it resulted in a 42-7 loss for the Jays back on September 18. Overall, the combined record of the teams Washington has faced stands at 31-48.
Still, games are played on the field and not on paper so there is certainly no reason to look past the Jays. In fact, it would pretty hard to look past Washington tight end Ryan Hoerstkamp, who stands at 6-foot-4 and is currently committed to the University of Missouri. In Washington’s regular season finale, he logged five catches for 94 yards and a touchdown.
“Great tight end going to Missouri. He can do about everything,” Shore said of Hoerstkamp. “They split him out wide, as a blocker and defensively, he is really good, too. They scored one touchdown on us last year and it was him who picked off the pass.”
And Hoerstkamp is not the only tool in Washington’s arsenal.
Running back Cole Nahlik dashed for 157 yards and three touchdowns in that win, Luke Kroeter ran for 67 yards and a score and quarterback Cam Millheiser finished 7-9 through the air for 117 yards while quarterback Jack Lackman went 2-3 for 49 yards and a touchdown. Dylan Pape added 37 yards on the ground and also caught a pair of passes for 49 yards and a touchdown.
So, there are a few players for Camdenton’s “Purple Haze” defense to account for. Currently, the unit has allowed 159.4 rushing yards, 161.8 passing yards and 321.2 total yards per game that has led to 30.5 points per outing.
“We have to focus on stopping the run. We have struggled with that this year so that is the main focus this week,” Shore said after facing rushing teams the past two weeks in Rolla and Jefferson City who combined for 546 rushing yards on the ground and seven touchdowns.
Meanwhile, the Lakers will look to stay in rhythm offensively and do plenty of scoring of their own. Camdenton is currently averaging 110.6 rushing yards, 258.5 passing yards and 379.1 total yards of offense per game to go along with 29.2 points on the scoreboard per contest.
Continuing the journey of his final campaign as a Laker, Wormsley will try to facilitate and maintain that rhythm as the starting signal caller. The senior is currently 185-269 for 2,223 yards, 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions on the season. Sophomore Bear Shore has provided some depth at quarterback and he is 61-82 for 462 yards, three touchdowns and four interceptions through nine games.
One Laker who is sure to draw plenty of attention Friday night is returning All-State senior receiver Cooper Ezard who continues to lead the passing game with 98 catches for 1,130 yards and 13 touchdowns. In six of the team’s 10 games, he has eclipsed 100-plus receiving yards and has nearly done so in eight games after totaling 82 receiving yards last week and 91 yards in a win over Parkview on September 11.
Sophomore receiver Kam Durnin has been another steady option for the Lakers with 10 catches for 255 yards on the season and senior Phillip Kurle, sophomore Javari Stewart and senior Logan Harmon all have double digit catches on the season and have all crossed the century mark in receiving yards. The backfield duo of seniors Eli Griffin and Jadin Faulconer have also been nice assets in the passing game as Faulconer has logged 56 catches for 335 yards and three scores through nine games while Griffin is at 37 receptions for 388 yards and a touchdown.
On the ground, Faulconer continues to be the leading rusher with 116 carries on the season for 682 yards (5.9 yards per carry) and four touchdowns. Wormsley has rushed 67 times for 250 yards (3.7 yards per carry) and four scores and Griffin had logged 83 rushing yards on 24 carries (3.5 yards per carry) and five touchdowns through eight games.
Shore said adjustments will be the key for his offense this week to continually move the chains and find the end zone against any defensive formations the Jays present.
“We scored 56 last year so I’m not sure they’ll stick with that same plan, but they might,” the coach said. “We just have to be ready for anything on the offensive side of the ball.”
Figure it out enough times, and the opportunity to win a 29th district championship will be on the horizon.
Camdenton won last season’s district semifinal matchup with the Jays at Bob Shore Stadium, 56-7.
Wormsley was in sync with his receiving corps last week and it payed dividends, especially in the final minute of the game. That kind of consistency will be needed for as long as the Lakers continue to play football this season. Ezard seems to continually find ways to get open and Griffin emerged as a nice option in the passing game as well.
Hoerstkamp seems to be the biggest threat in Washington’s passing attack and his size and athleticism alone could create some problems. Nahlik showed some consistency on the ground as well and it could potentially be a dangerous combo for the “Purple Haze” if neither is not neutralized Friday night.