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Dogs looking to get their offense in gear

Posted: October 12, 2017 1:36 p.m.
Updated: October 13, 2017 1:00 a.m.
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CAMPBELL JORDAN ... CHS wide out/QB

Now that Camden has shored up its defense, it is time for the offense to get its act together.

By inserting running backs Jericho Murphy and Lance McCray at free safety and linebacker, respectively, along with the return of injured defensive linemen Chase McKoy and Dontrell Sutton, the Camden defense played  a solid game in limiting the big plays against an explosive Fairfield Central offense in last Friday’s 27-7 loss in Winnsboro.

While the Bulldog defense graded out well in the film room, the offense never got traction in being held to 168 yards on just 37 snaps.

The challenge facing Brian Rimpf’s squad in practice this week was tinkering with the Camden offense and trying to get it clicking in time for tonight’s Homecoming date with visiting Chester at Zemp Stadium.

“Offensively,” Rimpf said matter-of-factly, “we’ve got to be better. All 11 players have to be what they’re supposed to be doing on every play. We didn’t execute as well as we needed to last week. We didn’t make big plays; we had a couple dropped passes and a couple missed blocks.

“Fairfield Central has a good defense, especially their front seven. You have to give them credit but we have to get better on offense. We’ve worked in practice on trying to score more points so that we can be more competitive.”

Even though the Griffins scored 27 points last Friday night, Rimpf said he felt his defense played better than that in making the hosts earn everything they got on offense while only allowing one carry of more than 20 yards. That, said the first-year Bulldog boss, was a step in the right direction.

“We didn’t give up the big play and that was something that we’ve been working on for weeks,” he said. “That was encouraging. We also forced a turnover which was encouraging.

“A couple of our guys played both ways last week. It was a nice cool night and conditioning-wise and cardiovascular-wise, Jericho Murphy and Lance McCray were both able to do that. We’re trying to move some guys around so that we will perform better.”

Rimpf said that after watching the game film, his defensive line played better than it had in recent weeks thanks, in part, to the return of McKoy and Sutton to the lineup.

“Getting all our starters back is the main thing,” Rimpf said of his team’s defensive effort. “We were without a number of those guys for a few weeks and we were able to get them all back last week. We were certainly encouraged by the way they played last week against a good Fairfield Central team. Hopefully, that will continue and get better this week against Chester.”

Chester will come to town with a roster filled with athletes who are able to change a game with their speed and athleticism. What the Cyclones may be lacking in girth, they try to make up for in other areas.

Senior John Erby (5-10, 175) directs the offense from behind center and is coming off a six touchdown (four passing, two running) game in last Friday’s 48-28 conference win over Columbia. The fifth-ranked Cyclones have been without starting junior tailback Pha’ Leak Brown (5-11, 180) for the past two weeks but Rimpf is planning on as if the former Rivals Freshman All-America selection will be back in the lineup tonight. When Erby goes to the passing lanes, his favorite target is 6-foot-2, 175-pound senior Quay Hardin.

Trying to corral that trio of skill players is at the top of Camden’s defensive to-do list.

“They’ve kind of had different offenses throughout the year,” Rimpf said of the looks his defense may see tonight. “They are not real big but they are fast. They try and spread you way out. Their offensive line has the largest splits we’ve seen between the guards and tackle and the center and guard. That puts a lot of pressure on you to tackle in space because that’s what they’re good at.

“For our defense, gap control is always a key. We have to stay in the gaps that we are assigned because if we get two guys in the same gap, that means there is a gap open and that is where they are probably going to hit it. We also have to stay on our men in the secondary. They use the play-action which usually frees up the long pass.”

In a perfect scenario, Rimpf said if Camden can be sound on defense and put pressure on Erby and not let him hurt the Dogs with his legs, it will enhance the hosts’ chance of snapping their five-game slide.

“It’s going to be another challenge this week against Chester,” he said. “They’re fast on offense. They’re not terribly big; they don’t have a lot of size but they all can run. They hit big plays up top and on the ground consistently against people.

“It’s going to be another week like it was against Fairfield Central where we have to eliminate the big play and make the tackle to help prevent the long run or, the long pass. ”

As for the Camden offense, there may be some changes coming on that side of the ball as Rimpf refused to tip his hand as to what may or may not be happening there. Changing things up last Friday, however, paid off and keeping things fresh in practice makes for an easier week for a team which has three weeks left to try and find its way back into the AAA state playoffs.

“What’s encouraging is that in the seventh game of the year, we had what we thought was our best game defensively,” Rimpf said of his players’ attitude in practice. “Offensively, we still have a ways to go but nobody has folded the tent up. 

“What’s neat and what is interesting about how the playoffs are in South Carolina is that if we finish second in the region, we can get a home playoff game. That’s something we’ve talked to our guys about; all that matters is region play.

“We’re finally back home at Zemp. It’s been five weeks since we’ve had a home game and it’s homecoming and there are going to be a lot of people there. It’s going to be a neat atmosphere and our guys are certainly excited about wearing that black jersey and playing at Zemp, again.”

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