Cowboys get farther than ever
Camp Verde loses 2nd round game but succeed where other teams failed
Coach Luke Steege couldn't remember the last time, if ever, the Camp Verde football team had made it to the second round of State. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, this year's second-round game would be the farthest they would go as Thatcher won 45-12 Friday night.
The Cowboys traveled a long way for the 2A State second-round game. They knew Thatcher would be tough, but was even tougher was losing two defensive ends before the game was over.
Thatcher scored first on a field goal in the first quarter. Then a fumble turned into a touchdown for the Cowboys with a quarterback sneak by Zach Hauser to give the Cowboys an early lead at the end of the first quarter, 6-3.
Camp Verde was staying strong with the tough Thatcher team. But early in the second quarter, disaster struck. Emery Brown sprained his ankle and was taken out of the game, leaving a big hole on the left side of the offensive line. Freshman Michael Toth came in for Brown and played his heart out, but the void was definitely felt by the team.
Thatcher began an offensive attack that Camp Verde couldn't quite keep up with despite another touchdown in the second quarter from a Hauser to Waylon Bleak pass play. At the half, the Cowboys were trailing 24-12.
Although the team had lost Brown and they were trailing at the half, coach Steege still felt as if the Cowboys were in it and could mount a comeback before time would expire. In the third quarter, Camp Verde's other big man on offense and defense, Beau Tudor was kicked out of the game because of a late hit to Thatcher's quarterback.
With Brown and Tudor out, Toth and Shawn Oothoudt filled in. Despite their efforts, they couldn't protect against a top 2A team. Quarterback Hauser back in the pocket was hurried and the Cowboys' running game was forced to only run on the right.
Damien Baca was the main target of Thatcher and had a hard time making the yardage, but ran as hard as he could through defenders. William Trahin also put everything he could into his run.
"They could have given up," said coach Steege. "But they didn't, they just ran harder and harder."
When everything was said and done, the Cowboys played their hearts out in what was a losing battle after two key players were gone from the game.
"Once the wheels came off the cart, it was all down hill from there," said coach Steege. "The kids from Thatcher were hitters and they were fast."
Even though the game turned out to be more of an uphill battle than expected, the team finishes its season 9-3. The Cowboys over the past two years are 17-6. Coach Steege himself is over .500 with a record of 40-35.
Both Brown and Tudor are seniors this year so Steege had a trial by fire preview of what is to come for next year. Grooming for those positions will no doubt begin as soon as possible.