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Dogs’ defense faces stern test from FC

Posted: October 4, 2017 2:09 p.m.
Updated: October 6, 2017 1:00 a.m.

LAREIK BRIGGS ... CHS wide out

What will they do for an encore?

Last season, Fairfield Central and Camden combined for nearly 1,400 yards in offense and 125 points on a night in which records fell by the wayside at Zemp Stadium as the visiting Griffins left town with a 70-55 win over Camden.

Tonight, the scene shifts to Winnsboro. One would be hard-pressed to think this contest will feature as much offense as that track meet of a year ago.

For the Bulldogs, gone are quarterback Devin Beckley, who tied a school record that evening by throwing seven touchdown passes. Also lost to graduation was wide out Jo Jo Watson who re-wrote the school’s receiving marks with six grabs going for touchdowns on an evening in which he pulled in 13 aerials for 243 yards.

The news which may bring a lump to the throat of Camden fans is that even though Fairfield Central lost starting quarterback Jamas Goins to injury two weeks ago, the Griffins return tailbacks Tony Ruff and Rod Edmonds. It was those two who ran roughshod over the Dogs last year to the tune of 392 yards and four touchdowns and 262 yards and a trip into the end zone, respectively. The duo accounted for 654 of the visitors’ school-record 852 yards in offense.

First-year Camden head coach Brian Rimpf was not around to witness last year’s three-hour and 15-minute marathon contest. Rest assured, however, he knows all about the first of two straight games in which the Bulldogs allowed 70 or more points.

Having had two weeks to prepare for their Region 4-AAA opener, following a 63-28 loss to unbeaten North Myrtle Beach, shoring things up on defense was one area of focus for Camden which will go up against a potent FC offense.

“They’re good again,” Rimpf said of the Griffins. “Both their running backs are back and they have some good guys on the edges at receiver who they try to get the ball to down the field more than they did last year.

“It seems like they are trying to throw the ball more and take more down the field and take more shots. Our corners have to be ready for the ball coming down the field. I think Jalen Johnson, Rasheed Sutton and Ryland Ayers, the guys in our corner positions, will be ready for that challenge.”

With Goins out with a knee injury, Demetrius Davis’ offense has changed. Sophomore Jacob McManus (6-2, 180) and the younger brother of graduated FC starting quarterback of a year ago, Stanley McManus, is expected to log minutes behind center and is the more traditional quarterback of the two signal-callers the hosts will play. The Griffins will also employ the services of 5-foot-3, 137-pound Montaviaus Thompson in the wildcat set when he is not at receiver.

Rimpf said his defense should not be fooled by Thompson’s slight stature.

“They still have some dominant offensive linemen,” Rimpf said. “And (Thompson) is an ‘X’ factor guy. He’s one of the smallest guys in the field but he’s one of those guys that you can’t even touch in the phone booth. He’s lightning fast and a guy who we’re certainly going to have to know where he is at all times.”

Defensively, FC is coming off a 35-0 shutout over a resurgent Columbia team. That unit is led by end Tykedrist Gibson (6-2, 245) who was the Region 4-AAA defensive player of the year in 2016. “They have speed on the edge and in the secondary. They have a good defense,” Rimpf said. “They play hard and they do a good job of tackling and making teams drive the football and not give up the big play.

“Camden was able to score a lot of points on them last year and, hopefully, we can continue that this year. But they certainly have some good players and they play good defense.”

The two weeks between games allowed Camden and its coaches to spend more time in individual drills. The break also allowed injured Bulldog starters to heal and get back into the fold after five starters missed each of the past two games.

Chase McKoy, who until his injury against Cheraw may have been the team’s most consistent defensive player, returns on the line along with end Dontrell Sutton. Ayers, who can play either in the secondary, at wide receiver along with fielding punts and kicks, is back after having missed the past four games as is fellow wide out Davea’ Cauthen. Campbell Jordan returns after missing the last game and will see action at wide out and is the backup quarterback. 

The visitors also expect to regain the services of starting linebacker Brock Dalton, who was injured in the third quarter of the North Myrtle Beach game.

“We’ll have everybody back this week for the first time since Week Zero and that’s a shot in the arm for our team,” Rimpf said. “A lot of our guys are excited about the other guys coming back and contributing. It certainly helps our depth with getting those guys back on the field.”

Having those players back has led to a good stretch of practice sessions.

“We worked on simple stuff,” Rimpf said. “We went back to the fundamentals. We did a lot of individual work as far as our positions. Our coaches got a lot more time with our players than they would during a normal week. Putting all that stuff together, we hope, will benefit us in the long run but especially this week against Fairfield Central.”

While the Griffins have already played and won a conference game, tonight is Camden’s first in the four games which count toward the state playoffs. During Sunday’s team meeting, Rimpf encouraged his players to “turn the page” and be ready to start a new season.

“We went from one season to the next season during the bye week,” he said. “We are 0-0 in region play and really have control of our own destiny. What better place to start than against the defending region champions.”


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