CAMP VERDE - It had the feeling of a rivalry game from the very beginning when Camp Verde stepped on the field at Sedona Red Rock for their 2015 season opener. It was close the whole way, Jaysen Leonard put Camp Verde in the lead when he entered the end-zone for the second time of the game. Sedona answered right back, Derrick Johnson hit Bailey Ehrlich on a halfback pass to put the Scorpions within scoring position. Johnson followed up a huge pass with running the ball into the end-zone for six and then followed up with the two-point conversion as well for a final score of 20-13. Camp Verde Senior Trevor Heyer was tasked with the challenge of shutting down Ehrlich all night and was highly successful throughout the game, breaking up multiple passes throughout the first half. It wasn't until the last drive that Ehrlich was able to come down with a ball. Camp Verde Head Coach Steve Darby was happy with the performance of his senior defensive back.
"I think Trevor shut him down for the most part all night. They started off by throwing a lot to Bailey and then they backed off a little, and didn't do it again," Darby said. "Those half back passes are always tough, because we teach our guys when it's a run to come up hard, Trevor stayed with his guy, he just got a step on him, and that was the difference, Trevor was able to get him out of bounds and keep it from being a touchdown, but unfortunately the end result wasn't good,"
After the Ehrlich catch it was a combination of Justice Keane and Derrick Johnson carrying the ball the rest of the way, until they were able to punch it in for six. Keane was a big contributor for the Scorpions, punching it in for six twice throughout the game. It was Keane who got the scoring started in the first quarter after an interception by Ehrlich left them on the 19-yard line and Keane capitalized by punching it in from 19-yards out. After an unsuccessful onside kick by the Scorpions the Cowboys took over on the 49-yard line. Ehrlich picked off another pass from Heyer and returned it to the Cowboys 46-yard line. The Cowboys were able to hold the Scorpions on the drive though and in came sophomore Quarterback Peyton Sarkesian who ended up finishing the game going 11-for-21 throwing for 116 yards and rushing for 72 on eight carries. Darby said it seemed like the offense had stalled a little bit with Heyer and thought they would see what would happen.
"We seemed to have stalled out a little bit with Trevor he threw those 2 interceptions, and Peyton is a little bit more accurate of a passer so we thought we would give it a switch and see how he did," Darby said. "He did a great job, scrambling wise passing wise he did a great job for us, he was awesome."
The Cowboys battled back behind the efforts of senior running-back Jaysen Leonard who punched in the first of his two touchdowns breaking multiple tackles on his way into the end zone.Leonard is in his first year playing football and has impressive so far in the offseason and continued those efforts in his first game of the year, finishing with 96 yards on nine carries averaging 10.7 yards per carry.
"I think he is a heck of a running back," Darby said. "Just some of the stuff I saw, running people over and the moves that he made for a kid that has never played football before and it being his first year I think that says a lot about him and where he is going."
The Cowboy defense battled with the Scorpions all night recovering two fumbles and junior Oscar Berellez racked up the lone sack for the Cowboys. Kyle Little, Leonard, Jordan May, and Thomas Herrera all tallied up tackles for a loss and Trevor Heyer lead the Cowboys with six total tackles on the night. Berellez and Ryan Loza were right behind him with five a piece according to Maxpreps.com. It is always tough to lose a close game but Darby said he had asked his players to give him everything they had and he believes that they responded by leaving everything on the field.
"I asked them to give me everything they have and I felt like they left it all out on field and it just wasn't our night, it was a close game up until a minute left in the game we were ahead and it looked like we were going to win the game," Darby said. ". Two good teams out here, we made some mistakes, made some mental lapses but so did they it's the first game, but they gave me everything they had and that's all I asked and were going to try and correct those mistakes next week and get better and it will be a process all year."
Camp Verde will hold their first game at home next week facing off with Holbrook at 7 p.m. next Friday before going into their bye week in the first week of September.
-- Follow Greg Macafee on Twitter @greg_macafee