By Chris Parker
Last year, Camdenton traveled to Webb City for a state quarterfinal game with the host Cardinals coming away with a one-point victory.
This year, Webb City made the trip up the road to face the Lakers, but the game would not be decided in the final moments this year. Class 4 No. 1 Webb City beat No. 2 Camdenton 62-34.
The game was tight throughout the first half.
Terrell Kabala got things started for Webb City with a 40-yard touchdown run less than three minutes into the game to make it 7-0. Camdenton answered with a 56-yard touchdown pass from Paxton DeLaurent to Cooper Ezard to tie it up.
The two teams traded one-yard touchdown runs early in the second quarter to make it 14-14 before Webb City went up 21-14.
Late in the second quarter, Camdenton connected on a field goal to make the score 21-17, but Webb City committed a penalty to give the Lakers five yards and make it fourth and 5. Camdenton coach Jeff Shore took the points off the board to go for it. The gamble worked with DeLaurent finding a receiver right at the first down marker.
A few plays later, DeLaurent threw for another touchdown on fourth and nine to tie the game at the half and give the Lakers momentum heading into the locker room.
“I thought we made a lot of mistakes. A lot of mental mistakes. I wasn’t very happy at halftime. We gave up that touchdown late. It was a tie ballgame, but it sure didn’t feel like we had any momentum. I thought it was all on their side at that point,” Webb City head coach John Roderique said.
Webb City got the ball out of halftime and Roderique knew his team needed to capitalize.
“We challenged them halftime. We talked to them about a few things we wanted to do offensively. I think the key was that first drive for us in the second half. We moved the ball down and scored,” Roderique said.
Webb City marched right down the field for a touchdown capped off by a Kabala 24-yard touchdown run to make it 28-21 to open the second half.
The Cardinals would stop Camdenton on its next drive before fumbling the ball away on fourth-and-one on their own 38 to give the Lakers great field position.
Camdenton quickly marched into the red zone.
Then came the play of the game.
Treghan Parker stepped in front of a DeLaurent pass three yards deep in the end zone and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown. It was effectively a two-score swing taking a touchdown away from Camdenton and giving a touchdown to Webb City. The Cardinals led 34-21 after the pick-six.
“I have never felt so fast, but I have never felt so tired at the same time.” Parker said. “It really got us going and got the crowd cheering. It was what we needed. We needed that momentum back from halftime.”
The play was truly a game changer.
“Their body language changed after that (interception),” Roderique said. “Defensively if one guy can make one play one time and it changes the whole situation.”
Camdenton would never pull closer than 15 points the rest of the way, as the Cardinal defense picked off four passes in the game and the offense rushed for 506 yards. Webb City outscored Camdenton 21-0 in that pivotal third quarter.
Kabala led the way with 13 carries for 188 yards and three touchdowns for Webb City. Devrin Weathers had 14 carries for 101 yards. Kade Hicks gave the Cardinals three players with at least 100 yards rushing with 12 carries for 100 yards and two touchdowns.
DeLaurent led the Lakers with 445 yards through the air and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 81 yards and two touchdowns. His top target was Cooper Ezard who had 16 catches for 219 yards and three touchdowns.
Webb City now awaits the winner of Saturday’s Ladue Horton Watkins vs. Liberty (Wentzville) next Saturday in the state semifinals.
“It (the state semifinals) is a great place to be. It doesn’t get any easier. We are thrilled to be back. I am really proud of our guys and coaches,” Roderique said.
Camdenton ends the season with a 12-1 record and says good-bye to a senior class that truly changed Camdenton Laker Football.
“They have won 31 or 32 ball games in three years. They are a great bunch of leaders. They really ignited a lot of fire and kept that Laker tradition alive. I am obviously going to miss them like crazy. Hopefully we can take a little bit of what they instilled and keep it going,” Shore said.