By Kary Booher (For OzarksSportsZone.com)
CAMDENTON – Talk about answering the bell. Well, that and lighting a fire under the whole team.
“Not just the whole team,” Camdenton High School senior fullback Ryan Maasen said. “The whole stadium.”
Trailing 7-0 in the opening quarter against their Highway 5 rivals, Maasen’s massive kick-out block on the next series sprain Jadin Faulconer for a 69-yard touchdown run on a toss sweep and energized the No. 2 Camdenton Lakers to the Class 4 District 5 championship.
The 35-7 victory against the No. 6-ranked Lebanon Yellowjackets on Friday night at Bob Shore Stadium ensured that tradition-rich Camdenton will host tradition-rich Webb City next week in the state quarterfinals, with schools to determine today (Nov. 16) whether to play Friday night or Saturday afternoon.
But more on that in a second, given the district championship’s bountiful storylines. For instance:
– With Camdenton dusting off the old playbook briefly, Faulconer scored two TDs en route to a 118-yard, 10-carry night – his other TD was a 17-yard, go-ahead score with 9:09 left before halftime, with Maasen also contributing another kick-out block.
– Camdenton quarterback Paxton DeLaurent looked comfortable in the five-receiver sets, throwing for 195 yards on 12 of 23 passing (and one interception), with three TDs – one a 4-yard TD late in the second quarter, the others in the air in the third quarter, both to Cooper Ezard — a 9-yard TD pass needled through traffic and a 47-yard strike late on a flag pattern.
Still, Faulconer’s first one was the game-changer.
“Maasen is known for his big hits,” Faulconer said.
“It’s just part of my playing style,” Maasen said.
Said DeLaurent, “That set a huge tone for the game. They came out and punched us in the mouth, and we expected that. We had picked up a great first down on third down, and then Jadin made a great cut. That was 70 yards of just speed.”
Camdenton hadn’t practiced the toss sweep that much this season. Or ran it that often. The Lakers used to run it all the time. But the Lakers found a liking again for the Power I, using two fullbacks ahead of a tailback.
“We were getting a great push,” Camdenton coach Jeff Shore said. “And Maasen is as good of a fullback as you’re going to find – even though we hardly ever have run a fullback.”
The play was a sign of things to come for Lebanon.
“When you’re preparing for them, you can’t spend as much time on that as you’d like,” Lebanon coach Will Christian said.
Lebanon led 7-0 after Qaumeire Wright’s 8-yard touchdown run. It capped a nine-play drive that began at the 50 following Tyler Paul’s 44-yard kickoff return.
But the rest of the night was frustrating for Lebanon.
Camdenton’s final TD – DeLaurent’s 47-yarder to Ezard – came after a wild series of events in which Lebanon, with small window to get back in the game, went from having the Lakers pinned at the Camdenton half-yard line to having to start its next drive at the Lebanon 15.
Two series before the Ezard TD catch, Lebanon appeared to have sacked DeLaurent in the end zone for a safety, giving itself some hope late in the third quarter.
However, the quarterback got off a pass – which was ultimately flagged for an illegal lineman down field, moving the ball back only to the half-inch line.
An offsides penalty against Lebanon eventually allowed for a makeable first down and then, DeLaurent booted a 64-yard punt that forced Lebanon to start at its own 15. On the next play, Camdenton came up with an interception. DeLaurent then found Ezard for the TD.
In two games this season against Lebanon, Camdenton has outscored Lebanon 63-7. The Lakers also have won 24 of the past 25 games and 19 consecutive at home.
Now all eyes are on the state quarterfinal back in Camdenton. Webb City beat Camdenton 28-27 in the same round last year, with the Lakers missing an extra point as time expired.