|Written by Brian Bergner|
|Thursday, 10 November 2011 00:00|
The No. 4-seeded Camp Verde High School football team advanced itself to the second round of the Division V state playoffs Friday, Nov. 4, defeating visiting Phoenix Christian High School, 39-14.
“Phoenix Christian is not bad; they’ve got some talent. I think we just wore them down a little bit. They got tired, and when they got behind they didn’t play well. They couldn’t throw the ball at all and we stopped their stud running back pretty well,” Camp Verde Head Coach Luke Steege said.
Phoenix Christian, which came to town with a 7-3 overall record and a No. 13 ranking in the state playoffs, found itself in unfamiliar territory Friday with the nasty Northern Arizona weather not making things easy on the Cougars.
For the entire first half, sheets of rain fell from the sky and sometimes went sideways with up to 30-mile-per-hour winds off Mingus Mountain. The second half rain was much lighter, but the wind did not let up, giving Phoenix Christian fits on offense.
Since the Cougars are used to the mild temperatures of the Phoenix area, coming north to Camp Verde during the beginning of winter had an effect on the boys in green and white, and it showed from the start.
On the third play from scrimmage, Camp Verde senior quarterback Deshon Tripp found fellow senior teammate Kody Rayburn wide open down the middle for a 74-yard touchdown pass, giving the Cowboys a 6-0 lead.
Phoenix Christian players were a bit slow on the play, worried more about losing their footing on a sloppy playing field than covering Rayburn, which proved to be fatal.
Despite the weather, the 13th-ranked Cougars found a way to stay with the Cowboys at least until the midway point of the third quarter.
Up 18-14 with just under six minutes to go, Camp Verde stopped the Cougars on its own 23-yard line to force a fourth down.
The turning point in the game was when Phoenix Christian Head Coach Brandon Harris decided to kick a 40-yard field goal instead of going for it, or doing a pooch punt.
Camp Verde senior Jake Spleiss recovered the blocked field goal attempt, then returned it to midfield before finally being brought down.
“I don’t know what he was thinking. There’s no way they would of made that field goal, especially in that weather. I mean, all they had to do was give it to their stud running back. I was shocked,” Steege said.
A few plays later, Camp Verde scored to make it 24-14 and had a successful try on the two-point conversion, giving the Cowboys a 26-14 lead. From then on, the Cougars couldn’t get any momentum and lost, 39-14.
The Arizona Republic selected its first-round winners Friday for the Division V state playoffs, picking every higher seeded team to win its first-round game, except for Camp Verde. The lack of respect wasn’t used as motivation for his players, according to Steege.
“They never pick us,” Steege said with a smile. “If it looks like it’s going to be a good game, they don’t pick us. I’m fine with it; they can just keep not picking us.”
With the win, Camp Verde improves to 9-2 overall this season and will play St. Johns High School in the Division V quarterfinals Friday, Nov. 11. The game will be held at Williams Field High School in Gilbert.
“St. Johns is pretty good. They look fast. We’re going to do what we always do. I think we can throw the ball on them in the flat; it may be a possibility. We’ll have to play well,” Steege said.
Kickoff is set for 3 p.m.
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Verde Valley Weather
39°F / 75°F
38°F / 73°F
36°F / 68°F