The Rolla football team (5-2) is coming off their second loss on the season and looking to rebound as they welcome Camdenton for Homecoming.
This game has more implications than it has the past couple of seasons, as the Lakers are also a District opponent this year. Head coach Jon Franks said his team will try to learn from last week and focus all the energy that comes with playing a District rival on Homecoming into playing great football.
"You hear about it a lot in history, but we don't ever want to forget. We do want to move on, but we want to understand why we played poorly and use that to improve ourselves. We tell our kids all the time that a loss is not a total loss if you learn something," said coach Franks. "Our kids do a nice job of staying focused. Camdenton now being a District opponent, this is a big game for us. This is a big seeding game, it's a confidence game. We need to play well and if we do, things will be okay."
Camdenton has made a ton of changes to their offense this season. The Lakers have a long history of running the football, but this season they've transitioned into one of the most pass-happy teams in the Ozark Conference. They're led by junior quarterback Paxton Delaurent, who has passed for 1941 yards and 26 touchdowns on the season, while throwing just five interceptions. His leading receiver for yardage is Gabe Kurtz with 480 yards and two scores. Jaben Shockley has added 358 yards and three scores. The Lakers have eight players with at least 100 receiving yards on the season and nine different players have caught a touchdown pass. By comparison, they Lakers have a total of 342 yards on the ground this season, though they have rushed for 16 touchdowns on the year.
"They throw the ball a lot and they throw it well," said coach Franks. "Their quarterback does an outstanding job of extending the play, keeping you on your toes, he's got a great arm. They're a lot like Glendale in the same facet, as they're going to pressure you all over the place offensively with a good quarterback. We're going to have to play some good defense with our D-backs and try to get some pressure on him. Fortunately, you talk matchups, we feel as a coach staff that it's a much better matchup."
Because Camdenton spreads it around to so many different people in the passing game, some of the two-way players in the secondary might focus a little bit more on defense to try to stay fresh. The Bulldog offense will look to pound the rock with Trey Quick and hold onto the ball on offense to keep their defense as fresh as they can.
"Well obviously you gotta have people and you try to keep them fresh and get off the field," said coach Franks. "That's the big thing. Offense hold onto the football. Any time you face a team like this, or any team, you don't want to play a lot of defense. A good recipe for success is play a lot of O, not very much D and you know you're doing pretty good."
While the new look offense has gotten a lot of the attention in Camdenton, coach Franks has also been impressed with the Laker defense. Camdenton didn't allow more than seven points in any of their first four games, two of which were shutouts. The last two weeks they've seen some big offenses in Lebanon and Glendale. The Yellowjackets scored 28, while the Falcons scored 34 in a pair of high scoring affairs.
"They play extremely hard. We talk to our kids about defense, passion. They fly around, they stay disciplined, they keep the ball in front of them and they want to tackle you," said coach Franks on the Laker defense. "That's great football and they've done that. Their defensive linemen get off the football, their linebackers run to the ball well, their secondary is disciplined. We'll have our hands full, but what else would you want at this time of year?"
Coach Franks said the biggest key to victory will be establishing their offense, something they struggled to do last week in Lebanon.
"Well I think we definitely have to establish our offense," said the Rolla head coach. "Either it be run or pass. Whatever they're going to give us, we've gotta exploit it and have some success. Defensively, we have to not give up big plays."