Camden at Lakewood
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Records: CHS: 2-2; LHS: 2-2
Series record: CHS leads, 9-1
Last meeting: CHS, 48-20, in 2013
Radio-Internet: StarTime 1590AM, 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. 4 at 9 a.m.
The Skinny: While the host Gators have five players who have topped the century mark in rushing this season, Kendrice Slater and his 277 yards on six carries tops the Bulldogs. The next leading rusher for CHS is junior Ethan Harris with 66 yards on 18 carries … Through the season’s first four games, Camden is averaging 129 yards per contest on the ground and another 118.5 in the air for a 247.5 total yards per game mark … Lakewood athletic coordinator and defensive line coach Frankie Ward is a former baseball standout for Sumter American Legion Post 15 and retired head coach Wallie Jones.
If you’re going: Take Highway 521 South to Sumter. Once in Sumter, take a slight left on Broad St. and continue onto Bultman Drive for 0.7 miles before continuing onto North Guignard Drive and North Guignard Parkway. You will turn right onto US 15 South (Pocalla Rd.). After 1.3 miles, turn left onto Old Manning Rd. Travel 0.8 miles before arriving at Lakewood High School and its stadium.
There is nothing like a taste of victory to wash away the sour strench left thanks to a pair of losses.
After having waited two weeks --- due to a Sept. 12 bye --- Camden got the win it was looking for in taking down visiting Lancaster, 14-0, last Friday at Zemp Stadium. Now, the Bulldogs would like nothing better than to get back over the .500 mark on the season and carry a two-game win streak into next Friday’s Region 4-AAA opener with visiting A.C. Flora. To do that, they will have to overcome an improved Lakewood team tonight in Sumter.
While not wanting to put the cart ahead of the proverbial horse, CHS head coach Jimmy Neal said it would be nice to carry momentum into next Friday’s homecoming contest. At the same time, he was hardly ready to chalk tonight’s game up as a victory.
“Everybody wants to do that. You just take it the way it comes to you,” Neal said of getting a second consecutive victory. “In a perfect world, you are going into your region schedule on a little bit of a run and you’re feeling better about things. That’s what everybody hopes they can do.”
Last Friday’s shutout translated into a good week of practice for the Dogs, who had to battle raindrops and a welcomed drop in the temperature.
“We have had a great week of practice. We’ve had good weeks of practice but winning is so important to help keep everybody’s spirits up,” Neal said. “Obviously, winning makes everything easier and better; people are feeling good about it and the coaches are feeling good about it.”
It will be a banged-up band of Dogs which will take the field tonight. The guests will be without at least two and as many as four injured starters tonight, are hardly looking past Perry Park’s improved Gators.
LHS has wins over McBee and Johnsonville while having dropped decisions against Lake City and to neighboring Sumter, 35-12, a week ago.
As Neal and company watched films of the Gators, they saw many a familiar player, especially in the skill positions.
Senior quarterback Roderick Charles has thrown for 341 yards and three touchdowns this season while having rushed for 141 yards with four trips into the end zone. Sophomore Latheron Rogers-Anderson leads a solid ground game in having rushed for 531 yards and a team-best six touchdowns. In all, five Gators have already run for triple digits.
When Charles goes up top, his favorite targets are Khafari Buffalo (8 catches for 159 yards and three TDs) and Terry Singleton, who has seven grabs for 147 yards and one 72-yard touchdown.
The LHS offense operates out of the spread formation and will show the CHS defense some empty sets in the backfield and four wide receivers at times. “Defensively, we have to contain them,” Neal said of the Gator offense. “They have some good speed on the edge. Their quarterback throws a good ball but we still have to contain him and not let him get out of the pocket.
Neal, whose defense posted their first shutout since 2010 against Lancaster, singled out two players on that side of the football for helping keep the Bruins off the scoreboard.
“Last week, our defensive guys did a great job of being in the right spots,” he said. “They did a great job of making their checks. (CHS safeties) Ben Hayes and Nelson Semple were rolling right where they were supposed to all the time. There was a lot of pressure on both of them last week. That was so key for us last week and it will be that way again this week.
“We have to make adjustments and during the week of practice, they have made those adjustments,” he continued in talking about his defensive unit. “Just being in the right spot, playing your position and being where you are supposed to be and not being misaligned, not running up field and just doing what you are supposed to do is big.”
Defensively, the Gators will line up in a 3-4 with some blitz packages while playing man-to-man in the secondary. “They are aggressive guys and play hard. They get after you and do some good things,” Neal said of the LHS defense.
As for the Bulldog offense, that group put the ball in the air just eight times last Friday and only once in the second half and gained 91 yards. Neal said those numbers need to come up tonight.
“Last week,” he said, “we felt like it was a situation where our defense matched up well with Lancaster’s offense. It’s not like we were sitting on a 7-0 lead, but the plan this week is to throw the ball more.
“I think we need to throw the ball more this week and that is in the plans for certain situations, especially. We’re going to need to throw the ball down the field and then, go about our business like we have done in the past.”
One thing which Camden noticed in film and in person while watching Lakewood is that crowds coming to see the Gators in person have been sparse, in spite of the team’s break-even record through four games. The CHS boss is hoping a large cadre of the Bulldog faithful will make the trip to Sumter tonight.
“You have to make it happen for yourself and you have to pull for your teammates,” Neal said of the less-than-enthusiastic atmosphere which he and his coaches have seen from tonight’s hosts.
“Hopefully, we bring a big crowd over there. So far, attendance hasn’t been real great over there for their games. They’re 2-2. We have to adjust and play the game full speed no matter if you are playing in front of 5,000 people or, five people. We have to do whatever it takes.”