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Dogs open run to playoffs tonight in Darlington

Posted: October 12, 2011 3:09 p.m.
Updated: October 14, 2011 5:00 a.m.

SHELDON WRIGHT ... CHS defensive tackle

Twice this season, Camden has endured two-game skids only to win on the third time out.

Tonight, the Bulldogs need to keep that trend going while making sure consecutive losses are a thing of the past.

Having opened the Region 6-AAA portion of its schedule with setbacks to Crestwood and Hartsville, Jimmy Neal’s troops are in “win or else” territory. The same can also be said of this evening’s host, Darlington, which is seeking its first victory in league play.

In what will be a match-up of two desperate teams, a win tonight keeps the victor’s playoff hopes alive. The loser will have to win their last two regular season games and then, keep their fingers crossed. With Lakewood and Marlboro County left on his team’s schedule, Neal said the Bulldogs cannot get caught up in looking ahead. At the same time, he admitted his team is in a three-game playoff mode.

“It just about has to be that way,” Neal said of this “playoffs before the playoffs” scenario.

“It starts right here for us. We just have to continue to improve and do the best we can. I think our young men are coming in with the right attitude. I’m happy with what they’ve done in practice this week.

“We have some people who are in positions that they haven’t been in before and they need to step up and make some big plays for us.”

In last week’s 28-3 loss to Hartsville, due to a hand injury sustained by starting quarterback Josh Council, Denzel Martin took control of the Camden offense. The lanky sophomore answered the call by completing half of his 22 pass attempts for 102 yards. His numbers could have been much better had it not been for several drops while an 83-yard scoring pass was called back by a penalty.

Martin only learned he would be the starter last Tuesday afternoon. He had just three days of rushed practice to acclimate himself to the job. Now that he has had a full week before his second start, Neal said he does not know whether that is a blessing or a curse for his young signal-caller.

“I think some of it is a little easier for him,” Neal said of Martin having a full week to prepare for his starting assignment. “Sometimes, though, guys get in their first game and they’re rushed into it so much that they don’t have time to worry about it. I really thought our coaches did a good job of keeping it simple for Denzel last week.

“Now, we have to go out there and do all we can to give him the chance to lead this team to victory. We have to open things up a little more and give him more responsibility. But Denzel is up for it. He’s a very smart young man who understands the game pretty well. He learns from his mistakes.”

While Martin is back, one of the players lining up behind him, Jo Jo Brevard, limped off the field in the fourth quarter last Friday night with an injury to his left leg. The playing status of the Bulldogs’ leading rusher will not be determined until he steps on the field for pre-game warm-ups tonight.

“Jo Jo is probably going to be a game-time deal before we know if he’s cleared by our trainer,” Neal said. “He’s tried to run on it some this week. He’s done rehab and has done what he is supposed to do. He’ll probably be out there (tonight), but we’re not positive. You just expect that he will be out there.”

While Camden’s offense did not take advantage of its chances against the Red Foxes a week ago, the defense was able to hold down an explosive Hartsville offense. The hosts scored on a blocked punt and on a nine-yard drive as the Bulldogs’ front line had the better of things in the trenches.

As he went back and looked at the film from that game, Neal said there were several areas in which his team can build and others which needed some tidying up.

“Defensively, we were very good up front against a very good offensive team last week,” he said. “We didn’t play well on special teams. We need to get better there.

“We’re still playing hard and doing some good things, though,” Neal added. “I thought Denzel did a good job for us. I was very pleased with his composure and how he handled things. That was encouraging.”

While Camden enters tonight’s game with two victories, the Falcons have one check in the win column, that, a 12-7 victory over Lamar in game three. Since then, DHS has lost four straight and given up 134 of the 174 points which opponents have scored on Will Lampkin’s squad in that span.

The Falcons’ three main weapons on offense are returning senior wide out Cayland Howard, returning junior quarterback Darvia Dubose and freshman tailback Treyvon Thomas. If those three players get loose, the Dogs will have their hands full.

“Those three are all good players, who do good things. You just have to keep those three guys corralled, somehow or another,” Neal said. “They also have some nice looking offensive linemen.”

Defensively, the Falcons are expected to line up in a 3-5-3 set, but have switched to a 4-2 look, on occasion, while playing man-free and sometimes, straight man-to-man in the secondary. “We have to be able to take advantage of that and hit them for big plays a couple of times,” Neal said of the DHS defensive backfield.

While there are some things different about each side, one common thread is that each needs to come away with a win tonight and get some momentum.

 “They’re kind of like us … they’ve kind of struggled,” Neal said. “Hopefully, we can keep giving them some problems.”




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