The Tigers' game plan for Friday's homecoming football contest was to make the Camdenton Lakers' offense one-dimensional.
WAYNESVILLE – The Tigers' game plan for Friday's homecoming football contest was to make the Camdenton Lakers' offense one-dimensional.
Waynesville's defense did its part by holding Camdenton to less than 85 rushing yards, but the Lakers' Bo Dean (QB, Sr.) outshined the Tiger secondary when it mattered most.
Dean finished an efficient 17-of-25 for 185 yards and two touchdowns, none more impressive than relying on receiver Kullen Carlock (Sr.), who leapt between two Tigers in the endzone early in the third quarter to push the Lakers out front even further, 23-0.
"Camdenton likes to throw the ball for short, timing routes, and you have to interrupt that in some way – either jam or get the receiver off his route – or get a little extra pressure early." Vernon said.
The Tigers did both, but the 200-pound Dean used his legs to extend passing plays, escaped three sacks, and made clutch throws to keep the Lekers' drives alive.
Both Waynesville and Camdenton scored late, making the final 30-6.
The Tigers faced a first half deficit of 17 points, seven of which came after quarterback Varon Martinez (Jr.) tossed an interception—which was returned 75 yards for touchdown—in the second quarter. Take that score away and the Tigers' defense allowed just 10 points, seven of which came on a 7-minute drive to open the game.
"We held them to 81 rushing [yards], but passing, they're going to get a lot [of yards] because of how well they throw the ball," Vernon said.
In a different way, Waynesville's offense was mildly successful on Friday.
The Tigers finished with 271 yards of total offense—including 143 passing yards—nearly 20 yards better than Camdenton's average defensive yards per game this season (252.3).
"We moved the ball and were very balance throwing and rushing the ball," Vernon said, "so we're keeping [defenses] off-balance. Again, it just comes down to continuing drives, not making critical mistakes and finding ways yo put it in the end zone."
Just like in previous weeks the offense stalled in the red zone, converting one drive into a touchdown late in the game. Much of the team's struggles, as Vernon has mentioned numerous times this season, are attributed to making costly mistakes at key points in the game.
"We were really moving the ball well on one drive, and we had [a 5-yard penalty] and that put us back," Vernon said.
He added that if you make even the slightest mistakes against a quality football team, "they add up to very big plays."
Waynesville committed just two penalties Friday, one of which turned a manageable third down into an obstacle the Tigers couldn't overcome. Mistakes in special teams also cost the team a loss in the field position battle.
"It all goes back to field position; [Camdenton] averaged starting on the 47-yard line, we averaged starting on the 23," Vernon said. "Field position is very important, and Friday night it turned out that way again, just like it has all year."
Despite a loss on Friday, Vernon said he is proud of the way Tiger student-athletes are responding to a losing season.
"We've been fighting through it all year," Vernon said. "Eventually, toward the end, it's all going to come together."
So long as Waynesville continues to improve week-to-week, Vernon is still hopeful for hosting Washington in the first round of the Class 5 State Playoffs.