By Chris Parker
Camdenton football is known as a power-running, ball-control football team, but that will change this year after an 8-3 season concluded with a 40-14 loss to Webb City in the Class 4 District 5 semifinals.
Head coach Jeff Shore will be installing a more up-tempo style off offense for 2018.
“I think our team is suited for it this year. We are still the Camdenton Lakers, but I think we can expand a little bit. We are trying to find ways to advance and keep going and have a chance to go as far as we can. Ultimately we are always trying to strive to go to…the state championship game,” Shore said. “We are just trying different ways to put more points on the board against teams that have exceptionally good defenses and being a little more versatile.”
The Lakers will rely on depth to make the new-look offense go.
“I think with the style of ball we are looking to play this year we are going to have to utilize more guys (because) we are going to try and go at a faster pace,” Shore said. “I think the pace we are going to play at is going to dictate that we need more guys just for the sheer conditioning.”
Junior Paxton Delaurent will key the offense at quarterback.
“He is a very good athlete. He is one of those guys that has been good at about anything he does. (He) is a good basketball player and a good baseball player,” Shore said. “He is a very smart player, so he can do some different things on offense. You aren’t afraid to do a variety of things with him because he can decipher it and get guys in the right spot. He all around is just a really good quarterback.”
One of the top playmakers will be Gabe Kurtz. The senior was an all-conference defensive back for the Lakers last season and will also see time as a running back/wide receiver this season.
“Gabe is a unique player. He is just a really fantastic athlete. He is a state champion in the javelin and a pole vaulter as well,” Shore said. “He is extremely tough, extremely quick and extremely powerful for his size. He will definitely carry a lot of weight for us on the offensive and defensive side of the ball.”
Jaben Shockley, Cash Calton, Jace Nicklas and Lathan Wise will also be key receivers for Camdenton.
Zach Trusty, Marlin Briggs, Luke Rasmussen, Camden Pitts and Josh Harman will be leaders on the offensive line.
Defensively, Camdenton will have many new faces on a defense that allowed 25.9 points per game last year.
“Defensively, I think our strength is that we will be able to run. I think that we are across the board fairly fast, tall and rangy,” Shore said. “Our question mark is that we are pretty inexperienced (on defense) not age-wise, but (in) playing time.”
Kurtz will anchor a defensive secondary that has a lot of potential according to Shore.
Ryan Maasen, Garrett Stamper and Riley Stidham will be key pieces in the middle of the defense at linebacker.
Briggs and Rasmussen will play both ways and anchor the defensive line along with Austin Rippee and Mason Kinney.
The big question this year for Camdenton will be how well players new to Friday night football adjust.
“We graduated so many guys, which we do every year typically. We hope to. It means we are doing ok program-wise. I feel like we have a lot of really good, solid football players. We will play a lot of different guys. We will look to play probably 30 different guys each game. We won’t be that young, but we will be very inexperienced,” Shore said.