Facing its biggest challenge of the season on many fronts, the St. Francis Borgia Regional football Knights head west Friday night to face the Camdenton Lakers.
Both teams enter the game at Bob Shore Stadium with 10-1 records. Camdenton is the host by virtue of being the top seed in the Class 4 District 5 Tournament. Borgia is seeded second.
“This will be our toughest opponent to this point,” Borgia Head Coach Dale Gildehaus said.
The game will mark many superlatives for Borgia. It’s the longest trip of the season by any way, it’s over two hours on the road from Washington to Camdenton and most estimates are around two hours and 20 minutes.
The teams have three common opponents, Rolla and Pacific.
Camdenton beat Rolla Oct. 12 in Rolla, 56-13. Borgia defeated Rolla, 52-14, last Friday.
Camdenton beat Pacific at home in Week 10, 55-7. Borgia won at Pacific in Week 1, 42-6.
Borgia beat Helias in Jefferson City in Week 5, 41-13. Camdenton won last week at home, 57-35.
The winner plays the Webb City-Neosho winner next Friday.
“It’s Week 12 and the final 16 teams in the state are still playing,” Gildehaus said. “Every team left standing is good and we happen to be one of those teams. I’m so proud of my kids on what they have achieved to this point. We have something to prove each and every day, now we have to prove to Camdenton we deserve to have a chance to play next week.”
Gildehaus noted that Camdenton is outstanding in its execution.
“They are not extremely big but they have very good speed at the skill positions,” Gildehaus said. “Predominately, they like to throw the ball from every formation possible with no huddle. The line stays up in a two-point stance ready to pass, but occasionally run the ball from the spread.”
Gildehaus feels Borgia’s defense will have a massive challenge in trying to slow down the Lakers.
“They usually score 50 points on every opponent, so our defense will be tested. This game will be about not giving up the long score, which they like to do every time they touch the ball.”
Paxton Delaurent, a junior, is the quarterback for the Lakers and he’s completed 234 of 362 pass attempts for 3,221 yards, 39 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Like Cardinal Ritter, Camdenton has a number of receiving threats and eight different players have over 100 receiving yards.
Gabe Kurtz leads the way with 49 catches for 799 yards and four scores. Jaben Shockley is next with 36 catches for 566 yards and five touchdowns. Lathan Wise has 22 catches for 527 yards and four touchdowns. Cash Calton is next with 37 catches for 450 yards and eight touchdowns. All are seniors.
Next is senior Dylan Tufts with 30 receptions for 319 yards and five touchdowns in eight games. Cooper Ezard has caught 19 passes for 202 yards and six scores over four games.
Junior Jase Nicklas is next with 17 receptions for 193 yards and two touchdowns. Sophomore Eli Griffin has 12 receptions for 169 yards and one touchdown.
Senior Drew Butts nearly made it nine different players with over 100 yards. He has caught nine passes for 97 yards and one touchdown.
Camdenton might not have major rushing figures, but the Lakers can use the ground game effectively. In last week’s 57-35 home win over Helias, the Lakers went with a ground attack, partially made necessary when fog rolled in off of the lake.
Griffin is the top running back with 59 carries for 270 yards and 16 touchdowns. Wise is next with nine carries for 112 yards. Butts has rushed 17 times for 110 yards and three scores.
Sophomore Parker Garrett has an 80-yard touchdown run. Junior Ethan Harris has rushed three times for 73 yards and one score.
Delaurent has carried the ball 78 times for 52 yards and six touchdowns.
Gildehaus said Camdenton is defensively similar to the Knights.
“Defensively, they just swarm to the ball which is very similar to what we try to do,” he said.
Kurtz is the team’s top tackler with 40 listed. Junior Ryan Maasen is listed with 34 tackles while Shockley has 30.
Senior Kylan Draper, Garrett and senior Jackson Rideout each have seven sacks.
Ultimately, Gildehaus feels the best way to defeat Camdenton might be to use ball possession to Borgia’s advantage.
“Hopefully the best defense will be to use the clock, three to four yards each play, keep the ball out of their hands like we did against Westminster a few years ago. If we can do something like that, I will feel much better.”
Gildehaus has multiple options with the quarterback position as both senior Cole Meyer and sophomore Sam Heggemann have started this year. Meyer is more of a running quarterback and he’s completed 15 of 28 pass attempts for 233 yards and one touchdown.
Heggemann has gone 60-108 for 1,199 yards, 14 touchdowns and five interceptions.
On the ground, senior Louie Eckelkamp has been Borgia’s main weapon. He has 210 carries for 1,378 yards, 26 touchdowns and two two-point conversions.
Meyer has run 71 times for 476 yards and six scores.
Sophomore Alonzo MacDonald has carried the ball 36 times for 213 yards and four scores.
Heggemann has 198 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 72 carries.
Sophomore Tyler Stieffermann has 10 carries for 178 yards and one touchdown.
Senior Matthew Sinnott has 20 rushes for 129 yards and three touchdowns.
Through the air, Meyer has the most receptions with 18 catches for 412 yards and five touchdowns.
Senior Tyler Glosemeyer has caught 14 passes for 341 yards and six touchdowns. Stieffermann has 13 grabs for 329 yards and three scores.
Defensively, Sinnott is the tackles leader with 133 total stops, four sacks, seven interceptions and one fumble recovery.
Senior Braedyn Frankenberg is next with 59 total tackles, four sacks and one interception.
Meyer has 50 tackles with one sack, one fumble recovery and three interceptions.
Next are seniors Adam Bell and Adam Molitor with 48 tackles apiece. Bell has two fumble recoveries and two interceptions. Molitor has three sacks.
Senior Joe Schmidt has five sacks with three fumble recoveries and an interception. Senior Joey Bolte has four sacks with a fumble recovery.
Sophomore Nick Dyson has made four interceptions and Glosemeyer has two.