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Campbell hopes L-E can put together four full quarters against River Bluff

Posted: September 6, 2018 11:31 a.m.
Updated: September 7, 2018 1:00 a.m.

AUSTON LEE ... L-E offensive lineman

Through the first three weeks of the season, Lugoff-Elgin head football coach Matt Campbell has seen glimmers of what he hopes his young Demons will become. All too often, as is the case with players still getting used to their new roles on the varsity squad, they have come in moments or, in this case, halves of football.

Two weeks ago against Camden, the Demon defense rose to the occasion to hold the CHS offense to seven first half points. A week ago, in a 27-14 loss to Chapin, L-E’s defensive charges surrendered one first half touchdown.

What the fourth-year L-E boss is now looking for is for his entire squad to put four quarters of football together and let the chips fall where they may. 

There would be no better time for that to happen than the present, as in tonight, when the Demons travel to meet a surprising River Bluff squad which is off to a 3-0 start after having won just two games in head coach Blair Hardin’s first season in Lexington County after having come over from North Myrtle Beach.

“Looking at the first half last week,” Campbell said of his own team before delving into the challenge presented by the host Gators, “I thought our defense played very well, again. They gave us the opportunity. I thought our special teams showed up for us; we’re constantly improving on special teams.

“Offensively, yeah, we scored on the second play of the game last week but, we had some long drives in there that we didn’t finish out and that still comes down to a lack of execution on our part.”

Those hiccups have not altered the L-E staff’s philosophy during the week of taking the opponent out of the equation and focusing on what the Demons need to do to get better and, ultimately, get that first win of the season. To that end, Campbell said, he and his coaches are not trying to re-invent the wheel as much as they are trying to simplify things to the point of making sure assignments are carried out.

“We’re still at that point where we’re trying to handle what we’re doing,” he said. “We’re trying to find the simplest way to get done what we need to get down and build back up from there.”

There were times against Chapin, Campbell said, in which his team’s offensive execution was good while not being on the same scale in other circumstances. Such occurrences are usually the sign of inexperience. “We’re always hunting, searching and trying to find a simpler way to get it done,” Campbell said.

Through a slow start to the season, Campbell has stayed positive. As he said, the players feed off the head coach and their position coaches. Campbell did say that he and his coaches have stayed patient throughout the process and know better days are coming as the Demon players have not let up on the practice field.

“You have to stay patient. You can’t hit the panic button because it’s a long season and we still have a lot of games left to be played,” he said. “I’ve said it before that, I think, your kids are going to react to how your leaders react.

“We’re going to keep working, keeping grinding and keep looking for new ways to try and be a little more inventive with the things that we do that fits the scheme that we already have in place and also fits our personnel. We have to continue to build on the small gains that we’ve made and keep eliminating mistakes.”

Tonight, the Demons will face a Gator squad which scored 61 points in a win over Fort Mill and followed that with a 28-0 blanking of Richland Northeast before stomping Pelion, 65-6, last Friday.

All eyes on the L-E defense will have to be centered on junior tailback Braden Walker who, against Fort Mill, ran for 260 yards and three touchdowns while piling up more than 400 all-purpose yards which included returning a kick 90 yards for a touchdown. Walker teams with fellow running back Antonio Gantt in helping  lead an offense which has hardly been slowed down through the first three games of the season.

The Gators rely heavily on the ground game and will run the counter and option with Walker and Gantt serving as the centerpieces.

“They have two running backs who are both electric,” Campbell said of RB’s two-headed monster in the backfield. “Those are guys who you have to control.”

Defensively, River Bluff got off to a slow start against Fort Mill but has settled things down on that side of the ball which features end Noah Johnson, the team leader in sacks a year ago. Campbell said the Gators are sound technique-wise on defense. 

“They’re not going to get caught out of position and their linebackers are downhill guys while they have athletes in the secondary.”


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