Twice As Nice
Taking advantage of a defense that produced three late-game turnovers, the Yoemen doubled down with a 35-14 victory over Wall for the Class 2A, Division I state championship—their second in two years and third overall.
The game was played Thursday at AT&T Cowboys Stadium in front of a crowd of 14,953 fans.
“Last year was one of those years where everything just kind of fell into place,” said fifth-year Cameron Coach Rick Rhoades, who was making his fourth appearance in a state finale.
“These guys have overcome so many obstacles this year. Our last three ball games could have gone either way and we were blessed enough to make the plays we need in order to win them.
“I’m very proud of these kids, because it wasn’t easy this year.”
The 15-1 Yoemen—who also won a crown in 1981—were playing in their third state finals game in the past four seasons.
In 2009, they lost to Daingerfield on a last second touchdown, but got revenge last year in a 35-21 win.
Wall, playing in its first state championship game, finished 15-1.
Star-in-the-making Traion Smith was named the offensive player of the game after the 5-foot-8, 185-pound sophomore picked up 157 yards and scored four times, twice in the final 7 minutes, 9 seconds to seal the victory.
“That’s a great feeling,” Smith said. “Not everybody has the opportunity to do that. I just went out there and made the most of it. I just wanted to win.”
The 15-year old Smith amassed 2,360 yards and 26 touchdowns for the year.
Senior defensive end Trauland Webber was the defensive player of the game after making four tackles, two for a loss, and he also recovered a fumble.
Last season’s player of the year, senior linebacker Somari Wright, paced Cameron with eight stops.
For the third straight game, Cameron had to fight back from an early deficit and for the second straight game, the Yoemen defense pitched a shutout in the second half.
Wall, with its antiquated Wing-T offense, had rolled like a thundercloud through the season and into the finale with over 6,000 yards rushing.
They continued the surge in the first half, pushing the Yoemen around to the tune of 251 yards and picking up seven yards per carry to forge a 14-14 tie.
It was a different story in the second half. Cameron bowed up and cut off Wall’s only offensive supply, limiting them to 28 yards on 11 carries which parlayed into zero points.
“Our defensive coaches made great adjustments at the half,” Rhoades said. “I thought they did a great job and I think our kids did a great job.”
It was now Cameron who depended on the run, rolling up 124 of its total 222 yards in the second half and averaging six yards per carry.
“Our big boys up front did a great job of getting people out of the way,” White said of the all-senior front line.
“They did a good job of taking the game plan that we would have liked to have used and used it against us,” said Wall Coach Houston Guy. “It felt like our defense was out there for the longest time.”
Cameron possessed the ball for 18 of the 24 minutes in the last half.
“We thought we would be able to run the ball on them,” Rhoades said. “But, we didn’t realize that we’d have the success that we did.”
After a scoreless third quarter, Cameron marched down field, using s bit of trickery to keep the 85-yard drive alive that was capped off with a 6-yard pass from Jason Kopriva to Aaron Sims (4 catches, 47 yards).
On fourth-and-five from the Yoe 49-yard line, Kopriva—who is the Yoemen punter—dropped back in punt formation, but when he received the snap, he threw a strike to Colton Shuff- ield (5 catches, 35 yards) out in the flats for a 16-yard p ickup and the crucial first down on the play of the game.
It was the first time the Yoemen had run the play all season.
Three plays later, Cameron scored for a 21-14 lead with 11:19 remaining to be played.
From that point on, the Yoe defense took control of the game.
On the following possession after falling behind, Wall coughed up the ball for the first time as senior linebacker Michael Gelner busted Wall running back Kris Guitterez and the loose ball was recovered by Webber at the Yoe 40-yard line.
Five players and four minutes later, Smith broke up the middle for 11 yards for his third touchdown and a 28-13 lead.
Just two plays into their next possession, Wall coughed up the ball again, a replay of the previous Gelner-Guiterrez altercation— this time scooped up by Colton Labay—and Cameron was in business again at the 35.
“Our thing the whole year has been the first person wraps up and the second person tries to get the ball out,” said Gelner, who had four tackles. “It was a shift in momentum. Everybody in the stands and everybody on the sidelines got pumped up.”
Eight plays later, Smith bulled over from the two with his fourth score and a 35-14 advantage with 2:01 left in the game.
Seemingly snake bit, Wall quarterback Luke Dacy then was picked off by Michael Evans at the 38 to send Yoe nation into a celebratory frenzy with 1:08 to play.
“I think the expectations were for us to come back because we did return a lot of kids from last year,” said Rhoades, who has led Cameron to 56 wins in five years. “But people don’t understand how hard it is to get back.
“We’re a great team and that’s a credit to these young men.”
WALL—Brent Matschek 54 run (Mason
Houser kick) 4:59
CAMERON—Traion Smith 1 run (Michael
Evan kick) 3:32
CAMERON—Smith 2 run (Evan kick) 4:54
WALL— Kris Guiterrez 10 run (Houser
CAMERON–Aaron Sims 6 pass from Jason
Kopriva (Evan kick) 11:19
CAMERON—Smith 11 run (Evan kick)
CAMERON—Smith 2 run (Brayan Garcia
PASSING—CAMERON: Kopriva 14-19-0, 109 yards, TD. WALL: Dacy 2-5-1, 39 yards. RUSHING— CAMERON: Smith 22-157, 4TD; Sims 3-45 Gelner 5-20, White 2-7; Kopriva 2-2; Washingon 1-1. WALL: Matschek 7-107, TD. RECEIVING—CAMERON: Shuffield 5-35; Sims 4-47; Smith 2-15, Washingtgon 1-1; White 1-5. WALL: Chitsey 1-28. TACKLES—CAMERON; Wright 8, Webber 4, Nickeron 4, White 4, Webber 4. WALL: Schwartz 6.
The three teams that knocked area teams out of the playoffs all lost in their respective state championship games.
Fairfield (Rockdale) lost to Argyle; Shiner (Thorndale) fell to Stamford; and Falls City (MILano) was upset by Wellington.