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All eyes in Region 4-AAA will be cast toward Chester tonight

Posted: October 11, 2018 8:33 a.m.
Updated: October 12, 2018 1:00 a.m.

DELDRIK JONES ... CHS running back

If there was such a thing as High School Gameday in South Carolina, the traveling talking heads who make their way to a campus well in advance of that day’s game might have found their way to Chester today.

In a game which has major implications as to the Region 4-AAA championship, fourth-ranked and once beaten Camden makes the trip to Chester to take on the third-ranked and unbeaten Cyclones. These games, said second-year Camden head coach Brian Rimpf, are the fun ones and the reason why players put in countless hours in the offseason.

“It’s always fun to play good competition,” he said. “We’ve had a good season so far and our guys have played really well. There were some games that they knew they were going to win going into the game. Not that they let their guard down any or, didn’t practice hard because they practiced hard; this is a good group of kids.

“There’s just a little added emotion, a little added enthusiasm throughout practices and throughout the school day leading up to a game like this. It’s kind of new for a lot of these guys to play in a game like this.”

That being said, Rimpf and his staff have tried to keep the same routine in practice this week. “We’re not going to play into the hype and things like that,” he said. “It should be a great atmosphere Friday night. I’m looking forward to it. It should be a great game. I think our guys are prepared.”

Preparation has not been a problem for Camden this season. From day one, Rimpf has said his senior-heavy squad put in the work needed, on and off the practice field, to be successful. Getting this team to focus in practice, he said, has not been an issue and that continued through this weather-challenged week. The Bulldogs have practiced and have played in rain this season and barring the remnants of Hurricane Michael forcing this game to be moved, Rimpf said his team is ready to roll tonight.

Through seven weeks, Rimpf said, the Dogs have responded each time out. And, on those occasions when a player gave a sub-par effort, the CHS staff lets the players police their teammates. “The biggest thing that is pleasing, as a coach,” Rimpf said, “is to watch the effort. There have been some games this year where we didn’t give as good an effort as we should have but, when we got to our team meeting, we pointed it out and made sure their teammates knew that those particular players did not give great effort.”

One game which Rimpf made for great effort plays was that on several occasions in last week’s 56-13 win over Fairfield Central, the Griffins reeled off a pair of long runs only for Camden defenders to not give up and the play and make tackles to prevent possible touchdowns. On offense, Camden had 10 explosion --- those of 15 or more yards --- plays last Friday night. There is a lot to like about this team.

“We’re a big, physical defense on the line and our linebackers do a great job of going sideline to sideline. Our secondary has also done a fabulous job all year of eliminating the big plays. All those things are pleasing to coaches,” Rimpf said. “On offense, we had 10 explosion plays last week. 

“There’s a lot to be pleased with but were never satisfied. Hopefully, there’s a lot more football and better teams left to be played. But this is a great group of kids; they do what they’re asked and they do it well. We’re hoping to keep that going.”

There has been a lot to like in Chester, as well. Through eight games, the Cyclones are scoring better than 38 points per game while allowing opponents less than 14. Victor Floyd’s squad has piled up points against Carolina Pride (67), Keenan (54). Lancaster (42) and Rock Hill (36) thus far.

How the Cyclones are doing it has been a change from the past. 

Chester is now a run-first offense which averages nearly 320 yards rushing per game led by 713 from senior tailback Pha Leak Brown, 627 from junior Stan Mills and 497 from senior Emmanuel Wright. The wild card is quarterback Zan’ Jerry Dunham, a 6-foot-2, 210 pound freshman has rushed for 432 yards and six touchdowns while having thrown for three more while averaging less than eight passes per game.

“Chester still has three-foot splits between the offensive linemen and they try to spread you way out,” Rimpf said. “They’re pretty big up front on the line and they run a lot of two tight end sets. We haven’t seen the tight end from Chester in about two years.

“They have some fast running backs and will roll two or three of them in there. What they try to do is put you in space and let their athletes make plays. If you miss a tackle, they’re gone for a touchdown.”

Camden has seen tempo from the Cyclone offense which, at times, will snap the ball as soon as the official lays it on the ground between plays. The plays which Chester runs in those situations are those which they have been productive in running.

Chester runs a 3-3 stack defense and will bring their safeties in the box, at times, for a 3-5 look against Camden. 

“They’re attacking on defense,” Rimpf said. “Sometimes, they will bring two guys down and give you a five-man front. As an offensive line, we have to know where our first step is going to go. We have to have our eyes open and know there their guys are coming from.

“They’re 8-0 for a reason. They’re doing well at what they want to do. It’s up to us to try and stop that stuff.”


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