<i>'Cowboy up'</i><br>Camp Verde takes over top spot in West

Staff photo by Jared Dort

ANDY Brooks (left) had an assist in Camp Verde's 3-0 win over Ash Fork last Saturday.

That was Camp Verde’s fate during the 2003 campaign. One loss to Precision while playing in the Metro Region gave the Cowboys co-ownership of the crown.

Miller doesn’t want history to repeat itself, so he’s not taking any team for granted, including the 1-5 Ash Fork Spartans.

All last week Miller’s squad practiced on the high school softball field. Ash Fork, a small 2A school, features one of the hardest surfaces to play on — dirt. No grass, just dirt and rocks. What makes playing there even more difficult is the wind, which is usually always blowing at speeds up to 40 mph in the north.

The unusual weekday workout paid off with a 3-0 win, which would prove too huge after a Sedona loss to Grand Canyon.

“It was quite an experience out there. The field was in the best shape it’s been in the seven or 8 years I’ve gone up there,” Miller said. “At times you couldn’t see the ball from the sidelines because of the dirt and win. It’s truly a unique surface, but we weren’t caught by surprise.”

Manuel Romero had a career day. If he wasn’t scoring, he was contributing on other goals. Romero tacked on the first of his two scores — a header off a cross from Seth McCabe —in the first half to give Camp Verde a 1-0 lead. After the break, he put another one in off an assist by Andy Brooks.

Romero finished the day with an assist to Kevin Borchers.

The defense, led by Trevor Hammond, Will Allen and Ernesto Sierras, made sure to keep the ball on Camp Verde’s side most of the game.

“Our defense was definitely solid,” Miller said. “We put Sierras in a sweeper for Zach Davis, who sat with an injury, and he was rock solid. In fact, the whole defense was rock solid.”

With the win, Camp Verde improves to 5-1 in region play. Sedona, who was the only undefeated team left in the West, fell to Grand Canyon last Friday in overtime.

That makes Tuesday’s meeting with Sedona, after deadline, all the more important. A win could lock up the region title, while a loss could lead to another co-championship.

Camp Verde has three games left, two against a pesky Grand Canyon team who’s bent on making the playoffs.

“We’re not taking any of these teams for granted,” Miller said. “Each game is going to be a hard fought contest.”

NOTES: Miller’s crew will close out the regular season at home against Grand Canyon. The state playoffs begin Oct. 29 in Agua Fria. Only the top four teams out of the region will advance.

Camp Verde hasn't failed to make the playoffs in four years.

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