On paper, Friday night's contest between Camp Verde and Sedona Red Rock wasn't a big deal. It was the first game of the season and since the Cowboys dropped down to 2A, it held no barring on the region standings like it did in the past.
Still, there was a playoff-like atmosphere in the air as both cross-town rivals took the field for their debut. Only pride and bragging rights were at stake, and just like the previous two meetings, Sedona walked away victorious.
A quick Scorpion drive and a Cowboy turnover in the first quarter set the tone as Camp Verde dropped its first game of the season, 32-19.
"We actually had two turnovers that cost us the game. Other than that, I thought we played them pretty tough. Sedona has an explosive offense and we did a pretty good job holding them. I was happy with that," coach Luke Steege said.
Camp Verde's defense did keep Sedona under 220 yards of total offense, while amassing 323 yards and controlling the ball for most of the game. However, the first six minutes proved to be the difference.
Sedona's Tommy Wyatt took the opening kickoff deep into Cowboy territory, then marched in from 18 yards out three plays later.
Luke Hicks responded on the ensuring kickoff with a return past Sedona's 40, but most of those yards were eaten up due to a penalty. Camp Verde could not get anything going and was forced to punt.
Sedona followed by going three-and-out. Once again the Cowboys offense took the field, but on the first play William Trahin fumbled and Sedona's Zach Egan recovered the loose ball and took it into the end zone.
Now down 14-0 in just the first quarter, Camp Verde made a charge down the field. A pass from Zach Hauser to Hicks set up one first down. Damien Baca picked up another first and later scored with 14 seconds left in the frame. Hicks stuck the ball through the uprights to cut the deficit down to seven.
Once again, the defense came up with a big stop. A Sedona fumble and a sack put the Scorpions in a fourth down and 30 situation. After the punt, Camp Verde's offense began a charge, but an interception by Wyatt halted the drive.
Camp Verde would go into the locker room at the half trailing 14-7, a margin that wouldn't stand long. On the Cowboys first possession after the break, a bad snap and a fumbled punt attempt gave Sedona the ball on the 27-yard line. Fullback Ryan Shupak found his way into the end zone to give Sedona a 20-7 lead with 9:56 left in the third quarter.
Wyatt struck from 24 yards out four minutes later and Shupak added the exclamation point with a TD in the final two minutes of the game to secure the win.
Camp Verde make a game out of it in the fourth quarter. Hicks scored on a 16-yard run with 11 seconds left in the third quarter to make it a 26-13 game.
Trahin picked off a Wyatt pass on Sedona's next possession and took it to the 39-yard line. A pass interference call on the Scorpions set up a TD reception by Hicks from 12-yards out to bring CV within seven.
With the loss, Camp Verde now trails Sedona in the series 4-3, which started in 1999. Camp Verde won the first three years by scores of 35-0, 14-13 and a 48-0 massacre. Sedona's tally is a 6-0 win in 2002, a 20-12 victory after a fumble on the 1-yard line and last year's 42-28 decision.
"Sedona has a great football team. They'll probably be the best team we see this year," Steege said. "I thought we did some things well on offense, we just have to get the ball in the end zone more. We should have had at least two more touchdowns."
Steege did get solid production from his offense. Hauser passed for 184 yards on 19-of-35. Baca had 17 carries for 109 yards and one TD while receiver Alex Lewis caught 10 passes for 158 yards.
UP NEXT: Camp Verde (0-1) will open its first home game of the season this Friday against Chino Valley, another former foe from the 3A West. Region play begins September 16 at St. Johns, a team believed to be the best in the North.