Trip to Camp Verde could be just what Tigers need

Clayton Holloway (34) and the Kingman Academy Tigers will be looking for running room when they visit Camp Verde Friday.

Photo by JC Amberlyn.

Clayton Holloway (34) and the Kingman Academy Tigers will be looking for running room when they visit Camp Verde Friday.

KINGMAN – Kingman Academy didn’t expect to start the season at 1-2. But that’s where the Tigers stand after heartbreaking and disappointing losses to Bourgade Catholic in Week 1 and Lee Williams last week.

Kingman Academy opens its 2A Central Region schedule at Camp Verde (0-2) at 7 p.m. Friday, and both teams are looking to get off to a good start in region.

“It’s super important to get to .500 and get that first region win,” said KAHS coach Dan Stroup. “Mentally, the kids are all together. We’re grounded and working hard. We’ll be prepared and thinking positively heading up into the mountains.”

Camp Verde has had its troubles to open the season. The Cowboys have been outscored 100-6 in their two losses.

The Cowboys’ quarterback, junior Payton Sarkesian, is their featured player. He’s completed 25-of-43 passes for 164 yards and also has 39 yards rushing on 16 carries to lead Camp Verde.

“Their heart is in their quarterback and the short passing game,” Stroup said. “They like to get it out of his hands quick. We’ll use a lot of disguises to get him to hold on to the ball and for the front four to get him.”

Senior Dallyn Chapman plays defensive end on the front four and is looking forward to getting his hands on Sarkesian. Chapman (5-10, 180) has eight tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery so far on the season for the Tigers.

“We have to go after the ball,” Chapman said. “We have to keep our eyes on the prize going after the quarterback.”

The Tigers offense has the speed to inflict serious damage on the bigger Cowboys. Seniors Clayton Holloway and Jordan McDowell-Seybert have rushed for a combined 662 yards. However, the Tigers have turned the ball over 12 times in their two losses, and fresh faces will litter the lineup against Camp Verde because of injuries and grade checks.

That means the left side of the offensive line and the quarterback position will dip into the Tigers’ depth chart. Junior Kannon Butler, who hasn’t thrown a pass this season, is set to run the offense.

“Kannon is a really smart player,” said junior wide receiver/defensive back Nate Carter. “He’s capable of handling the offense. The guys are stepping up and they’ll do a good job.”

Carter has 13 catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns receiving, and he’s made 11 tackles defensively. The changes in personnel, though regretful, won’t keep the Tigers from their mission.

“We’re just looking forward,” Carter said. “We’re looking forward and moving on. That’s what’s important.”