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Cowboys looking for successful 2010 season
Written by Brian Bergner   
Wednesday, 25 August 2010 00:00

Having lost 11 seniors to graduation in 2009, the Camp Verde High School football team will be depending on many newcomers in 2010 if it is to have a successful season.

Head Coach Luke Steege gives instructions to his team during pregame warm-ups in Payson on Friday, Aug. 20. Steege believes his Camp Verde High School football team could be 7-3 this season.The Cowboys return only five starters to the offense that put up record numbers through the first four games last season and return only four on defense.

Through the first month of the season in 2009, the Cowboys were 4-0 and well on their way to a possible final four appearance in the 2A conference state playoffs but one injury derailed Camp Verde, and they finished 2-5 the rest of the way.

Quarterback Mike Boler, who injured his shoulder after leading his team to a perfect 4-0 start, missed the rest of the season and the Cowboys were never the same.

Camp Verde finished 6-5 after losing to No. 6 Scottsdale Christian Academy in the first round of the state playoffs, 31-14.

Boler was among the 11 graduated seniors in 2009, so this season, the Cowboys will be looking to replace him at quarterback.

During the Payson High School scrimmage Friday, Aug. 20, Camp Verde Head Coach Luke Steege got a look at two quarterbacks vying for the starting nod in junior Jake Spleiss and sophomore Kyle Lobaugh.

Junior Deshon Tripp is also a part of the discussion at the quarterback position this season, but didn’t play much Friday due to injury.

The Cowboys hung tough with the Longhorns who are expected to finish in the top four in the 3A East region.

Spleiss received most of the playing time in 2009 after Boler got hurt, but don’t be surprised if Tripp gets a hard look come Friday, Aug. 27, when Camp Verde opens the season on the road against rival Chino Valley High School.

If Steege can help it, he said he would like to keep mostly juniors and seniors on the varsity squad, giving younger players wearing the freshman or sophomore tag experience at junior varsity.

Quarterback Jake Spleiss warms up before the Payson High School scrimmage game Friday, Aug. 20.If Steege’s wishes come true, that may rule out Lobaugh under center at quarterback this season at the varsity level, even though he has the biggest arm of the trio and seems most comfortable at the position.

Moving away from the Brett Favre-like drama at quarterback, the Cowboys have plenty of returners looking to do well in 2010.

Senior running back Tanner Rezzonico was named on the preseason watch list in The Arizona Republic last week while senior Austin Bower hopes to have a good year at cornerback.

Senior Cameron Stewart should anchor the offensive line this season while junior David Stanley plays offensive and defensive line this season.

Steege believes the strength of this particular Cowboys team will be the defense.

“We’ve got a bunch of guys out there who can’t wait to hit someone. I like what I saw at Payson over the weekend and I think if we can play good defense, we’ll be in games this season,” Steege said.

Steege is predicting a 7-3 season for the Cowboys this year with the talent they have but could be 8-2 or 6-4 depending on how things go.

One thing is for sure, the Cowboys are loaded with juniors this season, sporting 17 total in the program.

Cameron Stewart comes up from a three-point stance during pregame warm-ups in Payson. Stewart will anchor the  offensive line this season.Newcomers include juniors Cody Rayburn, Tyler Ward, Andy Minner, Josh Collins, Joe Wilson, Gavin Collins and Chandler Main.

Junior Chris Zellner is also in that group but with the head injury he suffered in the spring after getting hit in the head with a shot put during track and field season, the doctors have yet to clear him for football.

“He has an MRI coming soon and we’ll know within the next week or two if he’s going to be able to play,” Steege said.

Another player Steege said to keep an eye on is Rayburn, who grew five inches and gained 30 pounds over the summer.

No longer a skinny center fielder for the baseball team that made it to the 2A conference state finals in the spring, Rayburn, should be a playmaker this season for the Cowboys football team.

The Cowboys will look to run the spread offense this season since they’re light up front between the tackles, but don’t be surprised if the old Jet Sweep comes into play now and again in 2010.

After the season opener against Chino Valley, the Cowboys will return home and host Canyon State Academy on Friday, Sept. 3.


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