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Dogs happy to be home after four weeks away from Zemp

Posted: October 4, 2018 11:25 a.m.
Updated: October 5, 2018 1:00 a.m.
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TYLER MAXWELL ... CHS linebacker

Homecoming will take on a dual meaning tonight when Fairfield Central invades Zemp Stadium for Camden’s Region 4-AAA opener.

Sure, old classmates will reunite and a homecoming queen will be crowned at halftime. As for the host Bulldogs, this will also be a homecoming of sorts after they have played their past three games on the road and have not played a home game since Hartsville came to town on Aug. 31.

Even though his team is perfect in four road contests this season, second-year Camden head coach Brian Rimpf said there is no place like Zemp.

“It’s been more than a month since we’ve been home,” he said of a schedule which had to be re-adjusted due to the affects of Hurricane Florence. “We still have three home games coming up in the month of October but, this is the one we’re most excited about right now.

“It’s our first region game and region play is all that matters.”

The Dogs, ranked fifth in the latest AAA state poll, carry a 5-1 record and a three-game win streak into tonight’s pairing. While all that is well and good, Rimpf said now is not the time to look back and rest on six games worth of laurels.

“Our first six games went pretty well for us. We’re 5-1 and we’re feeling pretty good about ourselves,” he said. “These are the ones that matter, though and, for the first one, to beat Fairfield Central, is even more important.

“Fairfield Central is the defending region champions and always has a good program,” Rimpf said. “For them to come to Zemp with us playing pretty well, we’re excited. We’re excited about the atmosphere and what Friday night will bring.”

While the Dogs are on a roll, tonight they meet the masters of that saying as far as conference games are concerned. The visiting Griffins out of Fairfield County have strung together 34 consecutive region wins in a row including last Friday’s 61-25 dismantling of Keenan --- in a game in which Keenan led by two touchdowns early on --- in the conference opener.

This version of the Griffins, however, is different than some of the teams which Demetrius Davis has fielded in the past. FC has always featured a stout defense to go along with an offense which had big-time athletes at the skill positions. Through the first seven games of this season, the Griffins are allowing teams to score more than 38 points per game. 

The reason, Rimpf said, is simple. FC lost 10 defensive starters to graduation and that side of the ball is a work in progress. Throw in the fact that the Griffins have played  explosive veteran offenses including the likes of Lancaster, Blythewood and Westwood and you have a recipe for developmental problems.

“They’re real young on defense. They’re trying to figure things out,” Rimpf said. “They are not at the level that those guys they had there last year were at, yet. They’re well-coached and they’ll get there, hopefully, it won’t be against us.

“We just need to be consistent on offense. We feel we can move the ball on any defense that we play. We just have to execute and do the things we’re supposed to because our coaches do a great job of calling the games.”

Offensively, the Griffins score better than 31 points per game with Stephon Gadsen (5-9, 165) at the controls. The freshman has thrown for 821 yards and three touchdowns while having been picked off seven times in a mostly spread set. Will Barber leads the ground game with 747 yards and nine touchdowns.

“Maybe this year, more than in the past, they’re going to try and throw the ball. They’re putting the ball in the air a number of times this season whether it be fades, out routes or, some slants,” Rimpf said. “Their quarterback is a young guy but, he’s athletic. We have to make sure we know what we’re supposed to be doing on defense and read our keys and play fast and physical … the way we know we can play.”

Rimpf said FC has plenty of talent --- albeit young --- and, as always is well-coached by Davis and his staff.

As for the Griffins coming in with a losing --- 2-5 --- record, Rimpf said that is the product of a rugged non-league schedule.

“We’re not even talking about what their record is this year. Our guys just know it’s Fairfield Central and that’s all they need to know,” Rimpf said.

“We talk about this being a region game and it being Fairfield Central. The kids on this team who were here last year know what happened when went up there last season. We’re focused on beating this team this week.”

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