Camden at West Florence
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Records: CHS: 1-0; WF: 0-0
Series record: CHS leads, 10-8
Last meeting: CHS, 23-20, in 2013
Radio-Internet: StarTime 1590, 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, Sept. 6 at 9 a.m.
The Skinny: Camden High head coach Jimmy Neal is 4-3 coaching against West Florence … After an 0-2 start to last season, West Florence bounced back to finish with a 6-6 record before falling to eventual state champion Northwestern, 55-22, in the first round of the 4A state playoffs … West Florence, which was a member of Region 5-AAA with Camden in 2002 and 2003, has made the 4A state playoffs six times in the past nine seasons … WF quarterback Marquane Goodman is the younger brother of former WF and Clemson defensive end Malliciah Goodman who is now a member of the Atlanta Falcons.
If you’re going: Take I-20 East toward Florence. Continue onto I-20 Business East. After going 2.5 miles, turn left onto US-76 East/West Palmetto St. Go for 5,5 miles and you will then turn right onto South Stadium Rd.
West Florence has adopted the mantra of “No Huddle, No Mercy” for its offense. Tonight, Camden would like to change that to “On the Bench, On the Shelf.”
Like most schemes of that ilk, players in a hurry-up offense tend to get antsy when on the bench for long stretches of the game and try to make up for lost time once back on the field.
In last week’s 35-14 win over Lugoff-Elgin, the Bulldog offense was able to keep the ball away from the Demon offense with extended drives. In seven possessions on the evening, CHS had just one three and out. Not only were the Dogs able to cash in on four of those marches, but it also allowed their defense to rest and regroup along the bench on a hot night.
Camden head coach Jimmy Neal said he would not mind seeing a repeat performance tonight against the Knights at Memorial Stadium.
“That’s big,” Neal said when asked the importance of having a fresh defense on the field. “Last week, they got time to sit over there to sit and talk about everything while also getting hydrated. I thought our training staff did a good job of making sure our players stayed hydrated last week.
“When a team that wants to run fast with a no-huddle doesn’t have the ball, they get frustrated. They want the ball. All these no-huddle teams are like that; they want to get it and go. If we can keep the ball away from them for a little while, it should be to our advantage.”
What may appear to also be an advantage to the Bulldog cause is their already having played a game while tonight is the season opener for Trey Woodberry and company. In order to prepare for the Knights, CHS watched film from last year’s game along with video from WF’s scrimmage with Stratford and jamboree pairing against Johnsonville.
Neal said it is 50-50 as to which team may have the upper hand in this type of situation.
“Not that it’s old hat, by any means,” Neal said, “but they’re going to be excited because this is their first game and they’re ready to play somebody … anybody. They don’t care who they are playing. I do think that we have an advantage because we have played a game and we have been able to correct some mistakes and, hopefully, have gotten better.”
With a no-huddle offense that hit its stride last season following an 0-2 start, Neal said the Knights rely heavily on the ground game while also being more than able to hurt you from up top with fourth-year starter Marquane Goodman (6-3, 190) at quarterback.
“They are very similar in the offense that they are running this year to last season. They are probably trying to run the ball a little bit more,” Neal said. “They have two good running backs in (Eron) Darby and (Dexter) Fulmore and, Goodman is a good runner, too.
“They run a little different set this year with a sniffer back; a guy who is up in the line who blocks right and blocks left and on isos, like you see with a team that runs the wildcat. That changes it up and gives them different looks.”
Defensively, WF has not changed. The Bulldogs will face an aggressive 3-5-3 defense which took some hits to graduation along the front line and at linebacker but returns Dorian Gerald at one end while Terrell Barber is back at linebacker. When Camden gets in a third and long predicament, the hosts will line four players in the secondary to prevent the deep ball.
Neal said his offense has to stay on the field, get first downs and touchdowns to ease the load on the defense while keeping the WF offense on the sidelines.
“I think it’s real big,” Neal said of his offense controlling the game. “I think our players understand that we have to get first downs and, hopefully, change the field and not give their offense a short field to work with.
“We were given a short field a couple times last week and it was to our advantage. Hopefully, we’ll get some first downs and score some touchdowns this week.”
A lot went right for Camden in its Week Zero win against its rival. But no team is perfect and the Bulldogs went about polishing things up in practice this week.
“As good as we played on defense last week,” Neal said, “we have to tackle better. We have to play our blocks better and we have to squeeze better and fill our lanes better. It’s typical stuff.
“Our guys knew their assignments and where we were supposed to be offensively and defensively, most of the time. That’s not an easy thing to do that early in the year. I thought our coaches did a great job with that and that our players did a great job with it.”
When he looked at the stat sheet late last Friday, two other things jumped out at Neal in a good way. After averaging better than 11 penalties per game last season, the season opener saw the Bulldogs cut back on that considerably. Neal said he hopes that is an omen.
“We only had three penalties and one turnover in that game last week,” he said. “If you told me that we would have had that before that game, I would have been proud. We would have been as happy as can be and we would have taken it. To me, that shows that we were into the game when we played liked that. Hopefully, we can be as mentally into the game, again.”