Every good defense needs a tough guy; an enforcer. In twin brothers Blake and Brock Dalton, Camden had a marshal and a sheriff. Good luck trying to figure out which was which.
For the past two-plus falls, the Daltons brought toughness --- a calling card, if you will ---, to the Bulldogs’ defensive unit. They wore their hearts on the sleeves and played with unabashed emotion while not afraid to push the envelope with their play.
While some players needed to be motivated before hitting the field, second-year Camden head coach Brian Rimpf said getting the Daltons amped up for games was never an issue. In fact, when college coaches called to ask about the twins, Rimpf did not hold anything back in giving his take on the linebacking duo.
Obviously, the coaching staff at Presbyterian College liked what they saw from and heard about the duo who signed National Letters of Intent to continue their academic and football-playing pursuits with the Blue Hose.
“They did give us an identity on defense,” Rimpf said of the 6-foot-1, 210-pound linebackers. “Early in their careers, they let their aggression spill over into penalties; personal fouls. They toned it down, a bit, and didn’t have as many personal foul penalties this past year.
“Those guys really set the tone for our defense. They don’t talk whole lot but, they do talk with their pads. They pop people and they are aggressive. They were noticeable on Friday nights. One (Blake) led us in tackles (Blake) and the other (Brock) led us in tackles for loss. Those are two big sets of shoes for us to fill next season.”
Mild-mannered and respectful off the field, the Daltons take on different personas once the pads are on, whether it was on the practice field or, on Friday night.
“I, personally, flip a switch. Every time we put on the pads, I flip the switch,” Blake said. “For practice, I flip the switch. In pre-game, I won’t go that hard, but as soon as we did the Bulldog Walk, I flipped the switch on. (The intensity level goes) from zero to 100.
“Hitting and the adrenaline rush with running on the field, making a big play and the fans going crazy is a big part of it.”
In a separate interview, Brock Dalton cast a sly smile when asked how his demeanor changes once the helmet and pads go on. How much does he change on the field?
“I’d have to say over 100 percent. It’s something I love. All my passion and all my energy comes out when I’m on the field,” he said. “You legally get to hit someone in football. It’s fun.”
The brothers are hardly just about football. In the classroom, they both carry grade point averages of better than 3.5. That number made them appealing to a college such as Presbyterian, whose football program is transitioning to the Pioneer Football Conference which has programs stretching from Florida to the Carolinas to the Midwest to the University of San Diego.
“They were recruited by a number of schools. They didn’t set out to go to school together. They were open to options,” Rimpf said. “PC recruited them the hardest. They both have GPAs of better than 3.5 which is going to help at an elite academic institution like PC.”
When it came time to make their decisions on a college home, the Daltons, who both plan on majoring in business administration at PC, felt a strong bond with the Clinton institution, its campus, professors and football staff.
“The coaches actually meant what they said and it’s a family atmosphere,” Brock said as to why he chose PC. “You come in there and they are all welcoming. They’re also very good academically. I want to major in business and they’re one of the top business programs in the state.”
“One thing is that the campus is gorgeous and the professors are going to treat you like family,” said Blake when the same question was posed to him. “The coaches … love them. They all have great attitudes. They didn’t give you a line about what they can do or, what they will do. They just said, point blank, this is what it is. I like the honesty with them.”
The Daltons arrived in Camden from Waynesville, Mo., the second semester of their freshman years. With a father who is a member of the U.S. Army, the move was the third for the twins who started out wanting to play soccer when growing up in Virginia.
“I didn’t play football until I was nine or 10. I was big into soccer and wanted to play soccer in high school,” Blake said. “Once we moved from Virginia to Pennsylvania, I got introduced to contact football and that, basically, did it for us. We loved it right away and stuck with it.”
“Football-wise, there wasn’t any adjustment. It was great,” Brock said of the move to Camden.
This past season, Blake led the 8-4 Bulldogs with 96 tackles. He also had three tackles for loss, three quarterback pressures and an interception. Brock, also a linebacker, posted 51 tackles with a dozen tackles for loss with three sacks. He also had an interception, a 25-yard pick 6 in a win over Lugoff-Elgin in game two.
Under CHS defensive coordinator Earl Chaptman, the Dogs took more risks in 2018 allowing linebackers, especially, more freedom to make plays. “It helped me a lot with tackle and tackles for loss, also,” said Brock. “Hopefully, PC will let me blitz, but I’m not sure.”
There was one scheme, however, which appealed to Blake when it was signaled in from the sideline.
“It was great,” he said as to the more aggressive defensive package employed by Chaptman. “Sitting and reading is good and all but running in there and hitting somebody … it’s the best thing ever especially when we did ‘schoolyard’, when we would line up at any position we want to go do our assignments. That was great.”
The early plan for the Daltons with the Blue Hose is for them to stay at linebacker with Brock possibly being a hybrid backer/safety.
“PC, like everybody else,” Rimpf said, “is running multiple four-down and three-down defenses. Those guys can play and probably will play the positions where they played here. They both have good speed and are great athletes. They are also maturing physically. They led us in the weight room and they had some of the highest power cleans which shows explosive ability and strength. They are ready to go into PC and contribute right away.”
One thing the PC staff will not have to worry about doing is having to fire up the Dalton twins and making sure they are excited and ready to play football. In that respect, Rimpf said, Camden is sending the Blue Hose two players who will make all the teammates around them better.
“I talked to a college coach one time about that and he told me that it’s a lot easier to take the bark out of a dog than to put the bark into a dog,” Rimpf said with a smile while alluding to the Dalton brothers. “These dogs have some bark in them.”