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Camden may battle both elements, Seneca tonight

Posted: November 7, 2018 11:18 a.m.
Updated: November 9, 2018 1:00 a.m.
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BROCK DALTON ... CHS linebacker

Tuesday morning, while it was wet and humid, the Camden High football team took to the practice field for a workout in the elements.

When the Bulldogs make the 170-mile trek to Seneca for tonight’s AAA Upper State opener against the host Bobcats, meteorologists are calling for a healthy chance of rain and temperatures plummeting into the mid- to low-40s.

If you think second-year Bulldogs head coach Brian Rimpf is sweating the predicted weather details and how they may affect his team, think again.

“I don’t know what they do,” he said of the Bobcats’ practice routine, “but we practice in the rain and we play in the rain. It’s wet out there on the practice fields this week and we were out there practicing in preparation in case that happens.

“I think that our mindset is that it doesn’t matter where we play or when we play because we’re going to show up and that’s rain or shine, sleet or snow. I think that we’ll be ready and we prepare for, if the case does arise, that we’ll be prepared for those conditions.”

While the Bobcats have long since left their former stadium, which was located in a gully, for more spacious, sprawling digs, Seneca remains the site of one of Camden’s most bitter defeats. The Dogs’ 1989 season ended on a cold night in the Upstate in a penalty-marred contest in which the hosts came away a 17-14 winner.

That game is ancient history, however. Tonight’s pairing has CHS, again, having to travel after finishing third in Region 4-AAA after dropping consecutive overtime affairs with Chester and Indian Land before blitzing Keenan, 57-8, 15 days ago in the regular season finale.

Rimpf said the extended break between games came at a right time for his team.

“I think it came at a good time,” he said. “Our last game was a pretty good win; a pretty good performance by our guys. We went six or seven straight weeks where we played some pretty good teams, week-in and week-out. If good for our guys to get a break … it was good for our coaches to get a break.”

With the bye week, Camden got three practices in as they waited to see if they would play either Seneca or, Pendleton who played last Monday for the Region 1 title which was won by Pendleton, 30-27, when the Bulldogs scored on the final play of the contest.

Rimpf said the time off has allowed his players to get over any bumps and bruises which they had and return to practice at full speed this week.

What also changes this week is the length of the trip. The Bulldogs will leave school early and break the three-plus hour trip in half by stopping for a pre-game meal along the way. This will be the third time in two seasons which Camden will have had such a routine with the previous two coming a year ago with road games at North Myrtle Beach and to Palmetto.

Rimpf said his players will probably pass the time listening to music or, catching up on their sleep en route to the contest. “We’ll have it planned out to where we will be at peak performance at 7:30 when we kick the game off,” he said.

For the first nine games of the season, Seneca started Cole Bay at quarterback. An injury in game nine sidelined the 5-foot-11, 145-pound junior for the Pendleton contest. In Bay’s place stepped sophomore Malachi Hunter (6-0, 177), who completed 10 of his 19 passes for 167 yards with a touchdown and interception in that game.

The Bobcat offense has changed, a bit, with Hunter behind center.

“He’s an athletic kid. He’s probably a better athlete than (Bay),” Rimpf said of Hunter. “It looks like they put in a couple of new packages with this new quarterback. He, kind of, brings similar athletic ability to other quarterbacks we have faced like the kid from Keenan and Hartsville, to an extent.”

Rimpf said one constant this season is that the Camden defense has risen to the occasion time and time again. He expects nothing less tonight against a Bobcat offense which features senior tailback and North-South All-Star selection Jeremiah Mackey.

Mackey, a 5-11, 175-pounder has rushed for 961 yards and 17 touchdowns in 10 games. He will be joined in the backfield by Shawntravis Holden, who has run for 348 yards and five touchdowns.

Rimpf said, like Camden, Seneca employs several running backs in its spread set which emphasizes the ground game in a scheme designed to keep the ball on the ground.

“It looks like they have a flex package like the one we have,” he said. “They have two or three pretty good athletes who they are going to try and get the ball to. Our defense saw them on film and said, ‘We’ve seen this all year in practice.’ We know what to do against this offense.

“I think that has helped our defense prepare for their offense, but we still have to stop it.”

Defensively, Seneca has allowed 301 points in 10 games. The Bobcats will operate out of the 3-3 stack set, a formation Camden’s offense has faced in each of their past three games. 

“We’re pretty big up front and we’re a physical team,” Rimpf said of the Bulldog offense. “Some teams like to stick another defensive lineman in there and go to a four-man front and into a bear front where they have linemen covering up the guards and the center. Their linebackers are moving around a lot. They’re stunting and blitzing almost every single play.

“We think their front seven is the strongest part of their team. Depending on the weather conditions, it could be a grind it out, in the box, type of game.”

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