It was a long drive and a wet game as the Camp Verde Cowboys took on the Grey Hills Academy in Tuba City Friday night. It was all about the Cowboys as they dominated the Fighting Knights, 52-8.
In their opening drive, the Cowboys handed the ball off to Seth Mosley for a 40-plus touchdown run only to have it called back for holding. That didn't stop the Cowboys as they found the end zone a few plays later on a Damien Baca 18-yard run. Will Trahin kicked the ball through the uprights for a 7-0 lead.
The rain started to come down harder as the impending clouds finally engulfed the sky above and players, cheerleaders, coaches and fans began to get pummeled by monsoon rains that lasted about 20 minutes. Despite the severe weather, the players continued on. Neither team made another touchdown for the next 10 minutes on the clock.
Then with under two minutes to go in the first quarter, the Cowboys found pay-dirt again, this time by a 45-yard touchdown pass from Mike Boler to Will Trahin. Trahin missed the extra point this time and the Cowboys ended the first quarter up 13-0.
The dominated that the Cowboys were showing was led by the defense. Every time the Knights got the ball they either punted it away or lost the ball due to interceptions or fumbles.
In the second quarter, the Cowboys offense and defense played big roles in a 33-point quarter.
The Cowboys handed the ball off to all three of their weapons in the backfield, Baca, Mosley and Trahin. In the opening minute of the second quarter, Baca reached the end zone on a 31-yard run. With the extra point, the Cowboys led 20-0.
On Grey Hills' next possession, Mosley showed some terrific athletic ability and intercepted a pass on the Knights' 25-yard line and ran it in for a touchdown. The extra point was missed and Camp Verde led 26-0.
The Cowboys' momentum continued to carry them into the end zone. They scored three more times before the half ended. One by a 31-yard run by Trahin, another with a fumble recovery by Baca who ran it 30-yards for a touchdown and another 35-yard rushing touchdown for Baca.
When the score was 46-0, coach Luke Steege took his starters out and cleared the bench, giving a lot of back-up players a change to stretch their legs.
David Turnipseed came in as quarterback. A player who had never taken the quarterback position struggled at first, fumbling the ball. The Knights recovered it and got the touchdown. They scored on the two-point conversion and at the half, the Cowboys had a very comfortable lead, 46-8.
Both teams were quiet in the third quarter as the Cowboys defense kept the Knights from scoring and coach Steege focussed more on running the clock out than running up the points on the scoreboard.
Then in the fourth quarter, Donovan Kilby took the hand off, dodged a few defenders and ran it 41-yards to reach the end zone. The scoreboard read 52-8 and that is how the game would end. Both coaches decided to run the clock continuously as other clouds threatened with lightening and both teams wanted to get the landslide-game over quickly.
Defensively the Cowboys are holding their own and is considered to be the strongest part of the team according to coach Steege. The Offensive line on the other hand, needs some work but is working hard.
"They are inexperienced and it showed at the beginning of the game tonight," said Steege. "I am hoping that the sophomores will come around by the time we get toward the end of the year."
The O-Line is pretty small in comparison of some of the teams the Cowboys will face this year in a harder region. Tucker Rezzonico, Nathan Geyer, Ben Hauser, Michael Toth and Shawn Kilby help protect the quarterback and the backfield. Most of their weighing around 180 pounds with the exception of senior center Hauser who weighs in around 235.
"We are not big like last year so they have to use good technique and make smart plays and not have penalties," said Steege. "The progress has been good and will continue to grow with good games. I am optimistic."
Coach Steege is excited about his backfield. "Our three running backs, I would put them up against anybody. But they won't get anywhere without an offensive line."
Mike Boler has proven himself to be the starting quarterback for the team, taking over the helm from Zach Hauser last year.
"He does a good job of scrambling and will bring an extra dimension to our offense," said Steege. "He does a good job of ad-libbing plays."
Mosley is also a new addition to the varsity team after taking a year off. At 6-foot, 4-inches he is going to be a powerful weapon for the Cowboys on offense and defense.
"He's got great speed and his hands are coming around," said Steege. "Once he gets the feel for the passing game, he is going to be a major asset there. He works hard and with him, Damien and Will in the backfield, we can really get some good yardage."
Moving to the tougher conference will make things more interesting for the Cowboys.
"We may not have an 8-2 or 9-1 season but people are going to see closer games and I think they are all winable games. When it comes to playoff time you'll see a better football team," said Steege.
But before they face those tougher teams, the Cowboys got to celebrate their first victory of the season over Grey Hills. The standout player on offense for the Cowboys Friday night was Damien Baca, who carried the ball only six times for 136 yards and four touchdowns. On defense it was Seth Mosley, who snagged the interception in the second quarter and ran it back for a touchdown along with breaking up other passes and showing a lot of improvement on defense.
The Cowboys will travel to Sedona next Friday night to take on the Scorpions. Game time is 7 p.m.