Camden at Lower Richland
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Records: CHS: 2-4, 0-1 in 4-AAA; LR: 1-5, 0-1 in 4-AAA
Series record: CHS leads, 8-3
Last meeting: LR, 28-21, in 2013
Radio-Internet: StarTime 1590 AM, www.kool1027.com (click on CHS logo), TruVista Cable Channel 97 (audio only), beginning with the pre-game show at 7 p.m.
TV: Tonight’s game will be re-broadcast on TruVista Cable Channel 39 next Wednesday at 8 p.m. and again on Saturday, Oct. 18 at 9 a.m.
The Skinny: Tonight’s game marks homecoming at Lower Richland and is the second time in three years in which the Bulldogs have served as the homecoming opponent for the host Diamond Hornets … One way or another, Camden was going to face Howard Henderson. The LR senior quarterback began high school playing at Dreher through his sophomore season … Camden head coach Jimmy Neal and LR head coach Darryl Page have squared off against each other as head coaches nine previous times with Neal’s Bulldogs having won five of seven meetings against the Page-led Tigers of Wilson High School. As head coach at LR, Page and the Diamond Hornets are 2-0 against Neal and the Bulldogs.
If you’re going: Take US-601 South toward St. Matthews and stay on 601 for 12.9 miles before taking a slight right onto SC-262/Leesburg Rd. After 9.4 miles, turn left onto Lower Richland Boulevard. Travel 3.2 miles to Lower Richland High School.
Look at the personnel, not their record.
That may well be the mantra being preached by the Camden High football coaching staff to their players as the Bulldogs prepare to head to Hopkins for tonight’s Region 4-AAA contest with Lower Richland.
While the Bulldogs will drag a two-game losing skid and a 2-4 record into this game, the host Diamond Hornets have struggled out of the gate with a 20-13 win over Airport three weeks ago being their lone scratch in the win column. For two teams which both got off on the wrong foot in their conference openers, tonight’s game may well determine which side will have to do some serious catching up in the chase for a playoff slot after opening league play with consecutive losses.
“They’re a lot better than 1-5,” said CHS head coach of Darryl Page’s squad which opened 4-AAA play with a 21-14 loss to once-beaten Dreher last Friday night.
At the same time, Camden was forced to dig its way out of a 12-0 deficit in the opening six minutes of what turned out to be a 29-13 loss to fifth-ranked A.C. Flora on homecoming at Zemp Stadium.
“I thought some good things happened for us after the first quarter,” Neal said of his team’s effort against the Falcons. “I thought A.C. Flora did a great job preparing for us and giving us stuff that we hadn’t seen from them defensively. We were trying to find something on offense to try and make it work. But those things happen.”
Last Friday also saw the Bulldogs pull a switch at quarterback, starting Devin Beckley under center with junior Jaylen Nelson coming on in the second half. Beckley, a 6-foot-3, 185-pound sophomore, threw for 55 yards one week after taking over in the second half in the previous week’s loss to Lakewood in a game which he threw for 111 yards.
Neal said Beckley will get his second start tonight and anticipates the wide-eyed look of a week ago --- if there was one --- to be gone from his signal-caller’s eyes.
“Devin’s pretty unflappable. Things don’t faze him,” Neal said. “He handles things pretty well and learns from it.
“He had a situation last week on the pick six which was probably as much our fault on that one. We’ve run the play some this year. We felt that would be a good play for us against that man-free stuff they were playing against us but he didn’t throw the man route and the other guy was open.
“That stuff happens but it doesn’t shake Devin up. I thought he did some good things. He wasn’t perfect, by any means, but he did some good things and we’re looking forward to his continuing to grow.”
With a young quarterback running the offense, Neal said Camden’s scheme will not change. And even with Nelson calling the shots, the Bulldog boss said the play-calling does not change much at all.
What the Camden offense will see tonight from the LR defense is a unit which has lined up in a 4-3, a 4-2-5 and a 50 look. A year ago against LR, then-CHS junior running back Kendrice Slater gashed the Diamond Hornet defense for 143 yards on 24 carries before suffering an injury late in the game.
“They’ve done a bunch of different stuff defensively,” Neal said. “We’re expecting to get the 4-3 from them with the three linebackers in the box. We’ll see exactly what they do when they line up to start the game.
“Coach Page and their staff come in with a plan and will stick with it. They believe that over the 48 minutes of the game, you’ll revert to what you do. Whatever they feel their plan is, they’ll stick with it. Even if we change our plan up a little, they will stick with what they are doing.”
LR received another playmaker last week when quarterback Howard Henderson returned to the fold after sitting out most of the non-region slate with an injury. Against Dreher, he threw for 167 yards. Henderson’s return allowed 6-foot-3, 185-pound junior wide receiver Larry Collins to return to his regular spot on the field after filling in at quarterback for an LR offense which is back at full strength.
“We’ll see how that goes and see how it goes with (Henderson). He started for them last year and he’s a good little player,” Neal said.
“They’re athletic and do a lot of good stuff on offense. They throw a lot of vertical passes and they like to throw down the field. You would hope that we knock every one of them down when they do it.”
The Bulldogs will, again, be minus the services of starting guard Robert Warnock while several other starters could be game-time decisions, according to Neal.
“At this time of the year,” he said, “a lot of guys get banged up; it’s just part of it. You just hope that you can get them back. The problem is, a lot of times, you won’t know until Thursday whether these guys are ready or not. It will be a game-time decision for some of them. It’s just an unusual situation, an unusual year.”
Injuries and two weeks without a victory notwithstanding, Neal said nobody in his camp is looking back and wondering “what if.”
“We’re moving forward and our players are moving forward,” he said. “We’ve changed practice up a bit so that we can have fresher minds. I thought our guys responded extremely well with Tuesday, probably, being the best offensive practice that we’ve had all season.”