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Dogs need win and help to get into playoffs

Posted: October 31, 2013 2:34 p.m.
Updated: November 1, 2013 5:00 a.m.

His players huddled around him following last week’s loss to Westwood, Camden head coach Jimmy Neal told his Bulldogs that their playoff chances were probably done and the game with Chapin would, more than likely, be for pride and, for the seniors.
You can now throw in that tonight’s contest at Zemp Stadium may well be for a AAA state playoff berth if the Dogs can knock off the visiting Eagles.
Camden, which has lost three straight, got back into the playoff picture following A.C. Flora’s 58-8 thumping of Lower Richland and Chapin’s topping Dreher, 30-7, last Friday night.
While that news may have provided a spark to a team which might have been just playing out the string, Neal said that was anything but the case for his squad which has not let a winning streak or a trio of losses take away from their preparation for a game through this season.
In that respect, Neal said, it was business as usual for the Dogs this week.
“This has been a good group,” he said. “No matter what happens, I’ve enjoyed being around these guys. Our coaches enjoy them … they’ve been fun.”
As crazy as it may sound, take away a few miscues in each of the past three weeks, this game could well have been for the Region 4-AAA championship. Camden, however, has hurt itself with mistakes in the punting game and assorted turnovers which have led to an offense which is spinning its wheels, at times.
At the same time, there have been flashes of a team which is on the verge of putting all three facets of the game together. Tonight, Neal said, would be the optimum time for that to happen.  But with so much on the line in this contest, the Bulldogs are not going to stray from what they have been successful with in their five wins.
“You do what you do and, try to improve on it, obviously,” said the Bulldog boss. “Now, you don’t hold anything back, either. If there’s a play that you have to use to do something, you use it. There’s no reason to save anything. But if you get too wild and crazy, you end up hurting yourself more than helping yourself.”
While Camden is playing to extend its season, Chapin comes in on a five-game win streak after having opened the season with one win in the first four weeks. Coach Justin Gentry’s Eagles have locked down the Region 4-AAA title and the top seed. They will host next week’s state playoff opener.
Given that fact, there is one school of thought that Chapin might be wary of getting a key performer injured tonight, with little if anything to lose. As someone who has been in that position himself at Camden, Neal does not expect Chapin to give some of its reserves ample playing time.
“I don’t think so,” Neal said when that question was posed to him. “Knowing Coach Gentry and their staff, I think they’re believers in momentum. They’re going to come out here and give it their best shot against us.
“I expect them to come out there with their plan to be successful and come after us and do their best.”
Chapin opened the season with several players missing games due to injuries. Since week five, however, the Eagles have gotten healthy and have come together. They will come to Zemp on a roll.
The success of the visitors will begin with the play of quarterback Matt Charpia. The 6-foot-1 senior directs a one-back set and is a threat both with his arm and with his legs. In nine games this season, Charpia has thrown for 1,946 yards and 15 touchdowns. Senior Carter White has been on the receiving end of 40 of Charpia’s 141 completions for 805 yards and has six touchdown grabs.
Over land, 5-foot-5 junior Steffan Washington leads Chapin with 325 yards rushing on 86 carries. Charpia is not far behind, having gained 195 yards on 65 carries with eight runs for scores.
Neal said Charpia and White are two special players who make the Eagle offense, which averages nearly 25 points per game, go. “They both make it work,” Neal said. “Charpia does a good job back there for them.”
Defensively, Chapin has allowed an average of 21.8 points per game. Neal said he anticipates the Eagles jumping out of the regular 3-4 alignment and throw a four-man front against a run-heavy Bulldog offense.
“A lot of people have been loading the box against us and, that’s what we expect this week,” he said. “We think they are going to load it up in there.”
With a possible playoff berth on the line, Neal expects there to be a sense of excitement along his sidelines and, hopefully, in the home grandstand.
“Our guys have responded well,” he said. “They were ready last week (in a 27-13 loss to Westwood) and came out and played well. I think our guys will come out and play well this week. What we need to do, unlike last week, is to protect the ball and not have five turnovers like we had last Friday night.
“I think our guys will respond to this challenge and will come out and play well. We’ll just see what happens.”

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