Camp Verde High School’s football team picked up its first win of the season in a 22-0 shutout over Arizona College Preparatory, on Friday, Sept. 8.
What satisfied Cowboys head coach Jerry Rhoades most was the team’s response to adversity late in the game when things got out of sorts, much of it due to injury.
“The fact that we responded positively to all of the negative stuff that was going on around us — that really made me happy,” Rhoades said. “We bounced out of it and we didn’t let them in the end zone .... That I was happy about.”
The Cowboys [1-2] scored all of their points in the first half.
Senior quarterback Payton Sarkesian, senior running back Ryan Loza and junior running back Dominiq Bruno all had touchdowns. Bruno also scored a two-point conversion.
This is Arizona College Prep’s first season with a football team, and Rhoades said that at times it showed, mostly down in the trenches.
“We executed on defense pretty well. We made some mistakes down the stretch but defensively I think was the difference,” Rhoades said. “We tackled well and stopped their running game and pretty much made them one-dimensional.”
When the Knights did try to throw the ball, they did not have much success. Camp Verde sophomore defensive back Cale Cook came down with an interception. The Knights have been shut out in each of their three games so far this season.
Offensively the Cowboys would have put more points up on the board were it not for penalties. Sarkesian would have had another 23-yard rushing touchdown as well as a passing touchdown.
“We struggled on offense. We put up those three scores in the first half. We put up two scores in our first two possessions,” Rhoades said. “We slowed ourselves down.”
Consistency continued to be a problem area, Rhoades said. The Cowboys executed well on both sides of the ball, but just for stretches.
“We go through substantial periods, a quarter or quarter and a half, where we don’t execute at all,” Rhoades said. “That’s our goal this week is execute and to execute for four quarters.”
What hurt Camp Verde more than penalties or inconsistency were injuries. Bruno was reduced to playing just on defense and Sarkesian strained his leg on his touchdown, the first of the game.
Sarkesian continued to play, but was no longer a factor carrying the ball, making the Cowboys relatively one-dimensional the rest of the way. Other players will be looked at to step in and take a bigger role on the offensive side of the ball.
The Cowboys have their 2A Central Region opener at Kingman Academy High School on the horizon this coming Friday. Kingman Academy took second last year in the region.
They will work on getting healthy, which will be the biggest determining factor in the team’s success, as well as preparing for the Tigers’ offense.
“We’ve got our hands full. They’re a pretty good football team,” Rhoades said. “They spread you out and like to throw the football. So we are really going to work hard on simplifying the defensive secondary stuff that we do.”
Kickoff for the game at Kingman Academy is set for 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 15.