Fri, Dec

For all the talent the Camp Verde High School boys basketball team had in 2009-2010, the Cowboys still managed to finish only 16-15 on the year and could never quite put it together.

Junior Deshon Tripp, left, looks to pass to an open teammate in a scrimmage game Thursday, Nov. 18, against Mingus Union High School. Tripp and his Cowboy teammates begin the 2010-2011 season with one of the more talented core groups in recent memory.Teamwork and accountability were constantly called into question last season, but according to Head Coach Darren Gagnon, his 2010-2011 squad seems to have turned the page.

“The best thing I’ve seen so far this year is every kid on this team is committed to what we’re doing. They’ve all bought into the system and they want each other to do well,” Gagnon said in a phone interview Thursday, Nov. 18.

Gagnon went on to say his boys have shown an unselfish attitude so far in the first three weeks of the season, and stated “they all do what we ask them to do.”

Whether this “new attitude” carries over to games this season is yet to be seen, but the Cowboys certainly have the talent to capture a basketball fan’s imagination and turn some heads around in the 2A conference.

Top Returners

Camp Verde will be led by senior guards Shaq Watahomogie and Trey Cooper in 2010-2011. Both should be double-digit statistical players this season in scoring, rebounding and steals.

Watahomogie and Cooper give the Cowboys a one-two punch not many high school teams have at the 2A level.

Junior Jake Spleiss returns in the middle as the enforcer, and is anything but a third-wheel to Watahomogie and Cooper. Spleiss complements the two stars quite well with his stingy defense and inside play along with the ability to guard not only quick players on the perimeter but the big uglies inside.

“These three guys work well together,” Gagnon said.

Two other seniors returning this season are Kyle Neiderer and Daniel Brunner who should give the Cowboys plenty of minutes this year.

As for the junior class, Johnny Hudson returns as a dead-eye shooter from outside while Deshon Tripp could be one of the more athletic players on the court this season for the Cowboys.

Top Newcomers

Camp Verde has a few newcomers as well who have made Gagnon’s squad in juniors Brian Hudson, Andres Orellana and Josh Benson.

Hudson is a shooter like his brother Johnny and although small, Benson does all the right things according to Gagnon.
“He is small, but I like what I see out of him. He’s definitely going to help us this year,” Gagnon said.

The Schedule

Although the Cowboys would certainly have the talent to win 20-plus games in any other season, this year’s schedule is brutal.

Camp Verde opened its season on the road Monday, Nov. 22, when they traveled to Mayer High School. Results were unavailable at press time.

Mayer might be the easiest game on the schedule this season. North Pointe Preparatory Academy is a tough 1A team playing a 2A schedule while Williams High School might challenge for a state championship this season.

After the Round Valley Invitational Tournament, Camp Verde hosts Mingus Union High School, which finished third in the 4A-II Grand Canyon region.

Camp Verde is on the road against Scottsdale Christian and Wickenburg high schools in early January and then travel to Westwind Preparatory Academy, which has Division IV numbers but petitioned up to Division I in October.

Chino Valley High School is always tough and so is Northwest Christian High School, but we wouldn’t want to forget about Sedona Red Rock High School, the most heated rival for the Cowboys.

If there’s one game Camp Verde fans should go to this season, it’s the Sedona-Camp Verde matchup, which is sure to bring plenty of good basketball and tough competition.

“This schedule is going to make us tough. Whether we win 20, 15 or 10 games this season, it will prepare us for the state tournament,” Gagnon said.

Gagnon also talked about his team hitting the road early this season, stating that it will give his team time to bond.

“We only play one home game before the new year. This will give us time to bond as a team, and we generally play better on the road anyway,” Gagnon said.

Next up, the Cowboys will travel to North Pointe Preparatory Academy on Tuesday, Nov. 30. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
Camp Verde will host Mingus on Friday, Dec. 17, in its first home game of the year.

Junior Kody Rayburn looks to find an opening in a game Oct. 22 against Valley Christian High School. Rayburn had seven carries for 25 yards and a touchdown Friday, Nov. 5, against Pusch Ridge Christian Academy in a 35-7 win.The No. 13 Camp Verde High School football team played the upset card Friday, Nov. 5, defeating No. 4 Pusch Ridge High School in the first round of the 2A conference state playoffs, 35-7.

“They just weren’t very good,” Camp Verde Head Coach Luke Steege said. “They were 8-1 this season and we beat them up pretty good. It just shows you how tough our Central region was this year.”

Five of the six 2A Central region teams won Friday night, with No. 10 Valley Christian High School being the only one to lose. Valley Christian lost to No. 7 Scottsdale Christian High School, a Central region foe, 21-17.

The Cowboys totaled over 300 yards of offense Friday against the Lions, putting them to bed early with a 21-0 lead at the half.

Junior quarterback Deshon Tripp completed three of five passes for 20 yards but ran 14 times for 53 yards and a touchdown.
Senior Tanner Rezzonico had a game to remember against Pusch Ridge, carrying the ball 20 times for 193 yards and two touchdowns.

Rezzonico also had a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown, single-handedly putting the Lions away.

“That was some game Tanner [Rezzonico] had,” Steege said. “He’s had a great year for us and he came up big in Friday night’s playoff game.”

Defensively for the Cowboys, which allowed only a third-quarter touchdown by the Lions, junior Jake Spleiss and Paul Davis tied for the team lead in tackles with 10. Gavin Collins had eight and Rezzonico had seven.

Davis also recovered two of the four fumbles made by Pusch Ridge, while Tripp and Collins each had one fumble recovery.

Junior Jake Spleiss goes for a tackle Oct. 22. Spleiss had 10 tackles in the first round of the 2A conference state playoffs Friday“They kept turning it over and we kept scoring. They had some athletes but I didn’t expect them to play this bad. The south must be pretty weak this season,” Steege said.

With the victory, the Cowboys are 6-5 [2-3, 2A Central] overall this season.

Camp Verde will prepare for football powerhouse St. John’s High School, which earned a No. 5 seed in the state tournament and beat Bisbee High School [28-0] in its first-round game.

St. John’s won the 2A state championship in 2007 and 2008 and will be a tough test for the Cowboys come Friday, Nov. 12, especially since Camp Verde has to travel to St. John’s. The Redskins are 8-2 this season.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Down 21-14 heading into the fourth quarter, the Camp Verde High School football team took No. 2 Tempe Preparatory Academy down to the wire Friday, Oct. 29, but came up just short, losing 27-17.

Junior Kody Rayburn runs around a defender Oct. 22. Rayburn had only eight carries for 10 yards Friday, Oct. 29, against Tempe Preparatory Academy but did catch a touchdown pass in a 27-17 loss.Colin Clawson’s 25-yard field goal to begin the fourth quarter brought his Cowboys within four at 21-17.

“I thought right then, ‘We’re in the position we want to be in, we’ve played pretty good defense tonight and we can hold them, then get the ball back,’” Camp Verde Head Coach Luke Steege said.

Somebody forgot to tell the Tempe Preparatory sideline the master plan, however, and on its first play, Knights running back Rocky Brittain rattled off a 72-yard run for a touchdown to put his team up for good, 27-17.

“It was a back breaker,” Steege said. “We stopped that play all night. We stopped them from going outside the whole time, then the one time we break down defensively, that kid breaks one for 70 yards and a touchdown.”

The disappointment in Steege’s voice was enough for anyone to understand how hard it must have been to watch that moment in the game, knowing full well his team might not recover from the previous play.

The Knights managed nearly 300 yards on the ground Friday and had over 350 yards of total offense.

As for Camp Verde, junior quarterback Deshon Tripp was outstanding once again, completing eight of 13 passes for 137 yards and a touchdown while running 14 times for 46 yards and another touchdown.

Junior Deshon Tripp throws to a receiver Oct. 22 in a game against Valley Christian High School. Tripp completed eight passes for 137 yards and a touchdown against Tempe Preparatory Academy on Friday, Oct. 29. The Cowboys lost, 27-17.Tripp’s touchdown toss went to wide receiver Kody Rayburn, who had two catches for 51 yards and the score.

Defensively, Tanner Rezzonico was outstanding Friday, recording 18 tackles against Tempe Preparatory while Jake Spleiss and Gavin Collins each had 14.

With the loss, the Cowboys finish the regular season with a 5-5 [2-3, 2A Central] overall record and are No. 13 in the Arizona Interscholastic Association power point polls.

On Monday, Nov. 1, the AIA released the 2A conference state playoff bracket to the public.

At No. 13, Camp Verde will make the four-hour bus trip south to No. 4 Pusch Ridge Christian Academy in the first round of the state playoffs Friday, Nov. 5, in Tucson.

“I got the film Sunday so we’re going to break them down and prepare like we always do. I hope our guys come out hard and play well,” Steege said.

Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The Camp Verde High School volleyball team is getting hot at the right time of year, claiming another victory Thursday, Oct. 14, this time over Westwind Preparatory Academy, 3-0.

Senior Shayna Sterrett, No. 1, was outstanding against Westwind Preparatory Academy on Thursday, Oct. 14, in a 3-0 victory for Camp Verde High School. Sterrett had nine kills, 10 digs and two solo blocks in the win.It is the sixth victory in the last eight matches for the Cowboys, improving their record to 14-12 overall this season.

“I think the team has pulled together, and we’re really playing some good volleyball,” second-year Camp Verde Head Coach Darcy Evans said.

The Cowboys are 8-6 in Arizona Interscholastic Association power point matches, putting them at No. 13 in the standings, which were released Monday, Oct. 18.

With three matches to go and a 14-win season already under their belts, Evans and her Cowboys turned things around ahead of schedule.

In 2009, Camp Verde posted a 5-16 overall record and didn’t qualify for the 2A conference state playoffs. In her second year with mostly sophomores starting, things have gone better than expected.

“The kids are learning quickly and I’m happy with how things are going,” Evans said.

Against Westwind Preparatory on Thursday, Camp Verde had no trouble beating the Warriors in three straight games, 25-15, 25-14 and 25-13.

Senior Shayna Sterrett was outstanding Thursday, leading the team in kills with nine while recording 10 digs and two solo blocks.

Sophomore Donnie Buss had eight kills and 10 digs while sophomore Jenny Lawson had four kills.

The sophomore trend continued with Katie Wilson leading all players with 20 digs and Amanda Showers, who recorded four ace serves.

Camp Verde was in action again Tuesday, Oct. 19, when it played host to old 3A West rival Wickenburg High School. Results were unavailable at press time.

The Cowboys have a road trip to Chino Valley High School on Thursday, Oct. 21, and will return home to face Grand Canyon High School on Saturday, Oct. 23, in the season finale.

Camp Verde’s match against Grand Canyon is scheduled for a 2 p.m. start time.

The 2A state playoffs are scheduled to begin Tuesday, Nov. 2.

After playing a talented Scottsdale Christian Academy at home Oct. 8, the game against Greyhills Academy High School on Friday, Oct. 15, was tough to get up for according to Head Coach Luke Steege.

“When you see, prepare and then play against the type of talent we did last week, it’s tough to get up for a game against a much weaker opponent, but we got our act together and did what we needed to do,” Steege said.

Junior Kody Rayburn had a rushing touchdown Friday, Oct. 15, against Greyhills Academy High School. Rayburn is one of the top running backs for the Camp Verde High School football team this season. Camp Verde won, 52-0, and is 4-4 overall this season.The first quarter showed little as to how much better the Cowboys were against a visiting Greyhills team that had 13 players suited up on the sideline.

Three turnovers in the quarter and a desperate fourth down and 18-to-go heave into the end zone by quarterback Deshon Tripp gave the Cowboys an ugly 6-0 lead.

After the bad start, Camp Verde figured things out in the second quarter and took a 32-0 lead into halftime, eventually beating the Fighting Knights, 52-0.

It could have been much worse according to Steege, who began having his players run out of bounds after a certain number of yards gained, and even kicked two 30-plus yard field goals.

“We never kick field goals and Collin Clawson made two 37-yard field goals late in the game,” Steege said laughing.

In the end, Tripp passed for over 150 yards and two touchdowns while running in one of his own. Wideout Gavin Collins caught two of those touchdowns while tailback Kody Rayburn had a touchdown as well.

With the victory, Camp Verde improves to 4-4 [1-2, 2A Central] overall this season.

The Cowboys are ranked No. 13 in the Arizona Interscholastic Association power point polls, which were released Monday, Oct. 18.

Camp Verde will play host to No. 6 Valley Christian High School on Friday, Oct. 22.

Valley Christian is the 2A conference defending state champion and at 5-2, will be looking to add another notch to its belt.
“We’re going to have to play really well if we’re going to stand a chance,” Steege said.

Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

After Valley Christian, the Cowboys will wrap up the regular season with a trip to Tempe Preparatory Academy on Friday, Oct. 29.

The 2A state playoffs are scheduled to get under way Friday, Nov. 5.

The Camp Verde High School Cowboys rush onto the field for the school’s homecoming football game Friday, Sept. 24. The Cowboys lost to Northwest Christian Academy, 28-0.With its head coach sitting in the stands, the Camp Verde High School football team stood up quite well to top ranked Northwest Christian Academy on Friday, Sept. 24, but lost 28-0.

The Cowboys managed to get the ball inside the 10-yard line three times Friday night in front of a solid homecoming crowd, but didn’t score one point.

“I think the kids worked their butts off against Northwest Christian. We had a few chances to score but just couldn’t, especially those three times we had first and goal situations,” Steege said.

Steege, who was suspended one game due to his conduct in the Arizona Lutheran Academy game Sept. 17 that got him ejected and escorted off the field by a Phoenix police officer, sat in the stands with his wife among the fans during the game Friday night.

Quarterback Deshon Tripp looks for an open receiver downfield.“It was interesting. There’s a lot of things you see up in the stands that you usually don’t see on the field,” Steege said. “I can’t say I would want to do it again, though.”

Northwest Christian scored on its first two possessions, making it a 14-0 before Camp Verde alumni could blink.

With it looking like the Crusaders were going to blow out Camp Verde, the defense stiffened up and didn’t allow Northwest Christian to score again until late in the third quarter.

The problem was the Cowboys couldn’t get it together offensively, and without much of a passing game to speak of, Camp Verde managed only 247 yards of total offense, the majority of which came on the ground.

Junior backup quarterback Deshon Tripp took the snaps under center Friday, with junior starting quarterback Jake Spleiss out with a bruised thigh.

Tripp completed only three of nine passes for 41 yards and ran nine times for 13 yards.

Casey Jahn ran 26 times for 158 yards and two touchdowns behind that big offensive line against Camp Verde.

Northwest Christian, on the other hand, put together 334 yards of total offense including the four touchdowns.

Running back Kody Rayburn makes one of several attempts on the end zone during Camp Verde High School’s homecoming game against the 2A conference’s No. 1 ranked team Northwest Christian Academy on Friday, Sept. 24.“I think they outweighed us by 50 pounds each, so in the second half, they just lined up and pounded us,” Steege said.

With the loss, the Cowboys drop their record to 2-3 overall on the season and 0-1 in 2A Central region play.

Next up, Camp Verde will hit the road and play North Pointe Preparatory at Moon Valley High School on Friday, Oct. 1.

Camp Verde will then return home for three straight contests, the first coming against No. 2 Scottsdale Christian Academy on Friday, Oct. 8.

Kickoff for both games is set for 7 p.m.

The Camp Verde Middle School cross country team turned in a solid performance Sept. 15 at the Lobos Invitational Meet, recording a top five finish in the younger races.

the seventh- and eighth-grade boys race begins Sept. 15 at the Lobos Invitational Meet at Riverfront Park in Cottonwood.In the fifth- through sixth-grade girls race, Camp Verde took third overall at Riverfront Park in Cottonwood, scoring 89 points.

Rim Country Middle School took first overall with 70 points while Big Park Community School took second with 84 points.

The top performer for the Cowboys in the fifth- through sixth-grade race was Kayla Hockett who finished fourth overall with a 9:24 time.

“Kayla [Hockett] has been a solid runner for us all season. She holds the school record from 2009 and was just seconds away from setting it again in this race,” Camp Verde Head Coach John Bohan said.

Zoe Herring finished ninth overall with a 10:47 time while Irlanda Lopez took 15th overall with a 10:56 time.

Karalee Weiland was 28th overall with a 11:59 time and Jayla Jariard finished 33rd overall to wrap up the top five for the Cowboys with a 12:44 time.

In the fifth- through sixth-grade boys race, Camp Verde took fifth overall with 161 points scored. Heritage Middle School claimed the title with81 points.

Top finishes for the Cowboys in the fifth- through sixth-grade boys race included Ryan Cain who was ninth overall with a 9:27 time, setting a new school record with his performance.

Nick Westervelt finished 16th overall with a 9:51 time while Chase Decker was 44th overall with a 11:58 time.

“Team-wise, I usually don’t push for high team results. We focus on the kids having fun and doing their best, and developing a love for running,” Bohan said.

In the boys and girls seventh- through eighth-grad runs, eighth-grader Michael Malloy finished 31st overall with a 14:27 time.

Next up, Camp Verde will travel to the Pioneer Park Invitational on Wednesday, Sept. 22, with an official start time of 4 p.m.

The Cowboys will wrap up their season at the Cornville Invitational Meet on Wednesday, Sept. 29.

The Camp Verde High School volleyball team is on quite a roll lately, winning its third straight contest Thursday, Sept. 30, defeating visiting Mayer High School, 3-0.

Camp Verde High School volleyball player Jenny Lawler, No. 7, second from left, nails a hit past a Mayer High School player during a home game Thursday, Sept. 30. The Cowboys took the match in three quick games.“Right now, we’re playing well. I think the girls are excited to win some matches and if we continue to work hard, good things will keep happening,” second-year Head Coach Darcy Evans said.

The victory over Mayer brings the Cowboys record to 5-5 [6-5, tournament play] overall this season. Not bad for a team that won only four matches all last year.

In the last six years, the Cowboys have qualified for the state tournament every other season, making it in 2004, 2006, 2008 and now hopefully, 2010.

Each victory over the next four weeks will determine if the Cowboys make the 2A conference state playoffs or not this season. Currently, Camp Verde is ranked No. 20 in the Arizona Interscholastic Association power point polls, which were released Monday, Oct. 4.

In the victory Sept. 30, Camp Verde looked to overpower the visiting Wildcats and they did just that, winning 25-12, 25-10 and 25-13, to take the match, three games to none.

Sophomore Katie Wilson led all players with 12 kills Thursday, while also recording nine digs.

Senior Shayna Sterrett came in second with eight kills and six digs while junior Myra Perez had seven kills and six digs.

Sophomore Jenny Lawson chipped in with six kills while sophomore Donnie Buss had nine digs.

“We didn’t have any blocks on the day because there wasn’t much hitting going on by the other team, but our girls were still there and looked sharp at times,” Evans said.

Chino Valley Tournament

At the Chino Valley Invitational Tournament on Saturday, Oct. 2, the Cowboys finished second overall, losing to Chino Valley High School in the championship game, 2-0.

Camp Verde defeated Seligman High School twice and Williams High School once during the tournament, but lost to Chino Valley in both meetings, once in pool play and once in the title match.

“We played awesome at the tournament,” Evans said with a big smile. “I think we even surprised some people.”

Camp Verde was in action Tuesday, Oct. 5, when they traveled to Williams. Results were unavailable at press time.

Next up, Camp Verde will travel to Tonopah Valley High School on Thursday, Oct. 7, with an official start time of 6 p.m.

The next home match for the Cowboys will be Tuesday, Oct. 12, when they face Chino Valley at 6 p.m.

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