Entering Wednesday’s Class 5 District 4 semifinal football contest, Camdenton’s game plan was to use its potent running attack to limit the opportunities for Washington’s offense.
A steady attack of running plays mixed in with a handful of passes was more than enough for the Lakers to end Washington’s season at Camdenton High School, 35-7.
“That’s what they’re known for. Their running back (Murphy Ward) was a load. Watching him on film doesn’t do him justice. He’s a bowling ball. He ran with a low center of gravity and never stopped driving his feet,” said Washington Head Coach Zach Schneider. “We knew our possessions would be at a premium with Camdenton wanting to run the ball and eat up the clock. We moved the ball, but just couldn’t punch it in at the right times.”
Second-seeded Camdenton (7-3) will play at top-seeded Lebanon (9-1) in the district championship game Monday at 7 p.m. The winner advances to the Class 5 quarterfinals.
Lebanon defeated fifth-seeded Rolla in the other district semifinal game, 42-15.
“Lebanon will be a tough team to beat,” Schneider said. “If Camdenton can establish the run like they did against us, they can win the game.”
Camdenton had the game’s first possession and marched down the field for a touchdown.
Ward, Camdenton’s all-time leading rusher, ran the ball on every play of the opening drive, which was capped on a seven-yard touchdown run to make the score 7-0 with 8:42 left in the first quarter.
The Blue Jays put together a solid drive on their first possession, but fumbled at the Camdenton 15-yard line, which was recovered by the Lakers’ Alec Everett.
Camdenton then put together an 85-yard drive, which resulted on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Cory Simpson to Kullen Carlock to increase the lead to 14-0 with 1:23 left in the first quarter.
The Lakers led 14-0 after one quarter.
Washington got on the scoreboard with 6:43 remaining in the second quarter when quarterback Luke Hasenjaeger tossed a seven-yard touchdown pass to Alex Monehan to make the score 14-7.
Camdenton answered on a 22-yard touchdown run by Justin Bernabe to increase its advantage to 21-7 with 1:48 left in the second quarter.
Washington trailed 21-7 at halftime.
“It hurt when we got down by two touchdowns late in the second quarter,” Schneider said. “It limited a little more of what we could do with our running game. It also allowed them to drop eight defenders in pass coverage.”
The Blue Jays were forced to punt on the opening possession of the second half.
Camdenton took the ball and scored when Simpson and Carlock hooked up again for a 21-yard scoring strike to make the score 27-7 with 1:38 left in the third quarter.
The final touchdown of the game was with 9:58 left in the fourth quarter on a 40-yard run by Bernabe. The two-point conversion made the score 35-7.
Washington accumulated 286 total yards, 213 passing and 73 rushing.
Hasenjaeger was 22-32 passing for 213 yards with one touchdown and one interception. He also rushed for 17 yards on three attempts.
Kyle Summers carried the ball three times for 46 yards.
Caleb Curran rushed for 26 yards on six attempts.
Max Phinney had four rushes for 18 yards.
Randall Flotte, the team’s leading rusher, saw limited action.
“Randall has been banged up,” Schneider said. “We had some set plays for him, but the way the game was going, it didn’t work out.”
Washington said good-bye to a large senior class.
“We had a great senior class of 26 kids. Around 20 of them saw a significant amount of playing time. They provided a lot of leadership to the team,” Schneider said. “We have a good group of kids coming back. We had 16 or 17 juniors this year, a lot of whom were defensive guys. That’s something to build on.”
Schneider took plenty of positives from the season.
“We had a couple of letdowns in conference play. We were a few points away from being 7-2 and conference champions,” Schneider. “I’m proud of our kids for the season we had. We’ll get back to work soon and get ready for next year.”
C-Murphy Ward 7 run (Mason Bennett kick), 8:42
C-Kullen Carlock 18 pass from Cory Simpson (Bennett kick), 1:23
W-Alex Monehan 7 pass from Luke Hazenjaeger (Luke Hoemann kick), 6:43
C-Justin Bernabe 22 run (Bennett kick), 1:48
C-Carlock 21 pass from Simpson (kick failed), 1:38
C- Bernabe 40 run (Dylan Hymes pass from Simpson), 9:58