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Dogs look to remain perfect

Posted: October 1, 2010 4:22 p.m.
Updated: October 1, 2010 4:17 p.m.

If people are wondering what has happened to the Crestwood football team, which finished the non-region portion of its schedule with a 1-4 record, Camden head coach Jimmy Neal has an easy answer for them. Just take a gander at the Knights’ schedule.

There is nothing crazy going on with Keith Crolley’s program this season which an easier opening slate would not cure. But Neal knows that his good friend is not about to take the easy road out.

For that reason, Neal is more than just a bit wary as he brings his unbeaten Bulldogs into tonight’s Region 6-AAA opener in nearby western Sumter County.

“They’re good. Don’t make any mistake about it, they’re very good,” Neal said of the Knights. “There would be a lot of teams who would be 1-4 if they had Crestwood’s schedule. They’ve played a tough non-conference schedule and they have not caught a break. We’re going to have to play very well (tonight.)”

After opening the season with a 25-24 win over rival Sumter, Crestwood has fallen on hard times, losing to, in order, Aiken, Manning, Fairfield Central and last week, Lake City. There is not a cream puff in the bunch. Tonight, Camden will be the third consecutive ranked opponent whom the Knights have faced.

In spite of Crestwood’s deceiving record, Neal said his players know of the Knights’ reputation and winning ways over the past six seasons. “They respect Crestwood and know that Crestwood has been very good over the years. They know that they are going to have to play a good game, be physical and play hard,” he said.

Physical could describe the Bulldogs’ most recent contest, a 33-14 victory over Andrew Jackson in Kershaw. Camden ended the game with starting quarterback Dillon Morrow (turf toe) and starting tailback Jo Jo Brevard (ankle) watching the end of the game from the sidelines due to their injuries.

Sophomore Josh Council stepped in for Morrow in the second quarter and completed four of his 10 passes for 41 yards while running for 99 more yards, including a game-breaking 71-yard scoring run. Council took the majority of the snaps with the first team offense in practice this week. Brevard’s injury came in the fourth quarter.

This week, Morrow was held out of practice on Monday and Tuesday while Brevard was held out of contact the entire week. Neal said he hopes the pair will be ready to play, although, probably not at 100 percent, tonight.

“We think they will both be ready by (Friday),” Neal said. “How much they will play? We don’t know. We’ll see what happens.”

Getting past the Volunteers a week ago was a big hurdle for the Dogs to jump, since the game came on the heels of an emotional win over rival Lugoff-Elgin the previous Friday. As for being relieved that the usual “letdown” game is behind his team, Neal shook his head when asked that question.

“I don’t know how much of a relief it is with as many banged-up people that we had come out of that game,” he said. “But we’re glad to have it over with and now, we can move forward. You survive and go on to the next game.”

As his team prepared for conference play, Neal said he was impressed with his players’ business-like demeanor in practice this week. A lot of that was due to the fact that the Bulldogs were not exactly popping handstands following the AJ win.

“I think our young men are pretty sharp. I was very pleased with our practices this week,” Neal said. “They looked at the film and they understand that we didn’t play extremely well last week; then again, Andrew Jackson had a lot to do with that. But they worked like crazy this week; I’m proud of them. But they know there is a lot more on the line starting this week.”

Camden’s defense had to prepare for a Knights’ offensive scheme which is similar to that of L-E. The hosts, under the direction of quarterback Willie Glover, are a ground-based offense which will throw plenty of looks at the Dogs.

“They’re very similar to a lot of the stuff that L-E does,” Neal said. “They give you single-wing, double-wing, Wing-T and they’ll give you the T-formation. We’ll have to adjust to whatever they give us out there.

“On offense, they’re just not quite hitting it right, yet. They’re scoring points, but not as many as they have scored in the past. They’re just a step behind, but they’re playing against good competition.”

Defensively, Crolley is working with 10 first-year starters. That group, Neal said, has played hard and is aggressive.

“They play a lot of man and a lot of man-free in the secondary,” Neal said. “They are a 4-3 team and bring a lot of pressure. They also like to blitz a lot on first down, which not a lot of teams will do. We have to be ready to handle that.”

While the Bulldogs hope the start of the second half of their regular season is a continuation of the first five games of the year, Neal said he knows the Crestwood staff is taking the opposite approach to tonight’s contest.

“I’m sure that, for them, it’s a new season, just like everybody else,” he said. “I’m sure their coaches are talking like that and I’m sure that they had good practices over there this week.”

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