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Jeffcoat ready to reassume control of Bulldogs’ offense

Posted: August 6, 2018 1:49 p.m.
Updated: August 7, 2018 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

BRYCE JEFFCOAT IS BIGGER and more confident as he returns to man the quarterback position for Camden High this season.

Nothing tests an athletes’ “team first” philosophy more than being relegated from starter to serving in a backup capacity. Nowhere on the football field is such a change change more noticeable than at quarterback.

Bryce Jeffcoat admitted that his being replaced as Camden’s quarterback, in favor of senior Campbell Jordan, in game nine last season was a tough pill to swallow. Rather than sulk on the sidelines, the Bulldog junior found his way back onto the field by offering his services as a wide receiver.

As Camden prepares for its second season under head coach Brian Rimpf, the Dogs will again open the year with Jeffcoat behind center, calling the signals. This time around, though, the 6-foot, 170-pound senior is a year older, a season wiser and physically bigger to handle the rigors of the position.

Jeffcoat, who threw for 992 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 93 yards with four trips to the end zone in 2017, is looking ahead rather than the alternative.

“I was a little discouraged, obviously,” Jeffcoat said of his demotion last fall. “But whatever is best for the team … that’s our job. That’s what we’re supposed to do. Everybody here wants to do whatever it takes for us to win the game.”

While Jeffcoat was the primary starter at quarterback last season, three different players played the position and all three threw at least one scoring pass as the Dogs relied on the legs and, sometimes, the arm of graduated tailback Jericho Murphy. In 2018, CHS will unveil its “Mad Dog” offense which has the ability to take advantage of a deep group of running backs along with the return of the team’s top two and three starting receivers from a season ago.

The offense is built around making Jeffcoat and his supporting cast feel comfortable while giving that unit the best chance to be successful.

“I think it fits Bryce pretty well,” Rimpf said of the new offensive scheme. “We did some trial and error last year on what he could do and what some of our other guys could do. With the makeup that we have on offense this year, the stuff we’re calling will help make them the best players they can be.

“All we can do is call the plays. They have to execute them and, they have done a good job all summer with it and, we expect that during the season.”

The offense is one designed to take advantage of Camden’s athletes and their talents which includes Jeffcoat, a starter on the school’s basketball team last winter, who carried the football 36 times last year with a long run of 22 yards.

“We really like the new offense. There are a lot of running opportunities for me,” Jeffcoat said during a break from preseason practice. “With all the running backs we have, really talented backs, the running game looks like it will be really strong for us this year.”

That is not to say that the Dogs will forsake the passing game. With slot back and leading receiver Shymeik Corbett and wide outs Landon Goodwin and Davea’ Cauthen back as returning starters, Jeffcoat has weapons with big-play potential when he airs out the football.

The decision to go with an offense built around Camden’s athleticism was made by Rimpf and offensive coordinator Daniel Sisk. During the offseason, the two brought Jeffcoat in for a meeting to tell him the changes coming on that side of the football.

“Coach Rimpf and Coach Sisk talked to me about it and looked at the players we had coming back this year and saw what’s going to fit us best. We found something we really liked,” Jeffcoat said.

Jeffcoat said while some parts of the offense have changed from a year ago, many have stayed the same which has made for a smooth transition to the new set. “We have the same play calling and the same formations, for the most part, so, it’s not that tough,” he said. “It’s just adjusting to new looks. And with the teammates I have around me, it was not too tough.”

Jeffcoat’s mother, is the former Natalie Funderburk, who was the South Carolina Gatorade Girls Basketball Player of the Year while playing at Camden High before playing at the University of South Carolina. His father, Derwin, was an All-American punter at Hannah-Pamplico High School before playing the position at USC.

The oldest of the three Jeffcoat children understands the importance of athletics not only in being the starting quarterback for Camden, but as a major part of his life in general. “It was like second nature to me, coming out here to Camden, where my mom played. It’s just home,” he said. “It’s extremely comfortable for me.”

Another source of comfort this fall will be the fact that the Bulldogs have a 32-member senior class; the program’s largest in recent memory. That being the case, finding players to fill leadership roles should not be much of a problem.

“With the 32 seniors and all that experience,” Jeffcoat said, “everyone is so comfortable on the field. Everyone is able to step up and everyone is able to talk to each other. We all have the same amount of respect for everyone on the team. We want to get it done. We want to win games.

“It’s been a lot of work and a lot of focus on the small details; that’s the way to get better.”

In a large group of 32 seniors, the one player, as always, who will stand out is the one who calls the signals on offense. When it comes to that position, Rimpf is more than comfortable, himself, in having Bryce Jeffcoat in that role.

“Bryce is a guy who is dependable; that’s the first thing,” he said. “We know that he is going to be at practice and we know he is going to work when he gets here. He is also real smart in the classroom. All those things factor into the position he plays. 

“Quarterback is the most important position on the team and those guys have to be your leaders. They are the players everyone looks to and have to do what they’re supposed to do. Bryce is a guy who we’ve always been able to count on for doing that.

“His decision-making is better and he has gotten a lot stronger and bigger this offseason. He’s done what he’s needed to do to be successful and we’re looking forward to seeing what he does on the field this season.”

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