As expressed while he and his family walked across the track for senior night, Cameron Finley wants to be a carpenter.
“Ever since I was a little kid, I just liked putting stuff together,” Finley said. “Taking things apart, putting them together. It’s an interest of mine.”
His first project, as a senior running back for Smith-Cotton, may still have years until completion.
“We’ve got to do some serious building,” Finley said.
Finley rushed for three touchdowns as S-C lost 61-21 to Battle on senior night at Tiger Stadium.
The Tigers (0-2) tallied all three touchdowns in the second half. And while S-C overcame second- and third-string matchups to score, Finley still valued the effort required to move the ball.
“In the first half, they did not respect us at all,” Finley said. “We just have to come out from the beginning like that to gain respect for the whole game — to prove that we can play with these teams.”
Battle junior Daleshaun Coleman carried a short reception from the backfield 48 yards for the first touchdown of the night.
After a pair of first-down scrambles, senior quarterback Brett Grupe’s pass was intercepted at the Battle 10-yard line. Battle capitalized with a scoring drive punctuated by a 21-yard TD rush from sophomore Gerry Marteen, Jr.
Smith-Cotton lost a fumble on the ensuing kickoff return, and senior Dawson Meierotto reeled in a 21-yard strike into the end zone on the next play. Battle converted two of three 2-point attempts in the first quarter to lead 22-0.
Battle (1-1) sought to correct a 52-47 loss last week hosting St. Louis University High School. Smith-Cotton lost by a touchdown last week at Moberly, shutting out the home side in the second half of a 35-28 loss. They drilled the Tigers in the second quarter.
Meierotto gashed the Tigers defense for more than 30 yards on a fourth-down reception, setting up the Spartans at the Smith-Cotton 9. Junior quarterback Khaleel Dampier, who split time with senior starter Harrison Keller, punched home the 1-yard TD to give Battle a 29-0 lead.
Following a timeout with 4:47 to halftime, Battle scored three touchdowns in less than 2 minutes.
Battle senior Connor May exited the break with a 27-yard TD reception. Trevonne Hicks, senior, returned a blocked punt for another score. The Tigers fumbled on their next snap, and Keller scooped up the loose ball to score on a short return.
When the dust settled on the first half, Battle led 48-0.
Smith-Cotton started the second half with its second lost fumble. The Spartans recovered at the 11 and Dampier ran left for his second touchdown of the game.
Trailing by 54 points, Finley said it was important to the building process never to resign.
“I just got to give it my all, every time I’m out there,” Finley said. “I know those underclassmen are looking up to me. Other players too. I just have to be a leader.”
The Tigers gained chunks of yardage against Battle’s second unit, culminating with a 15-yard TD run from Finley. A trick play helped junior Chase McMullin find space in the end zone for a successful 2-point conversion, and Smith-Cotton trailed 54-8 with 6:12 remaining in the third quarter.
Finley finished a drive for Smith-Cotton with a 13-yard TD rush with 9:41 to play, and added a 5-yarder with less than a minute to play.
Smith-Cotton (0-2) travels to Warrensburg for the Silver Tiger Trophy 7 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13 at Walton Stadium.
Alex Agueros can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @abagueros2.