Camden coach recalls post-season disapointment

If Camden County head football coach Jeff Heron is walking a little more softly these days, you can't blame the guy. He may be 10-0 and home for the playoffs Friday night against Jonesboro. But he has a good memory.

After leading his football team to a perfect 10-0 regular season a year ago, Camden ran into Riverdale in the opening round of the playoffs. And you can guess what happened next.

"We were ahead late," Heron said, "but they came down and scored on a fourth-and-goal from the nine with about 50 seconds left. It was a bitter pill to swallow, /I'll tell you. It made for a long winter."

But happily for Heron and Camden County, his team evidently learned from the experience and came out this season with fire in their eyes. And so did the coach.

"I've searched all winter and spring for an explanation," Heron said. "And the thing is, we just didn't play as well as we were capable. When you get to the playoffs, you have to be mentally and physically sharp, and we weren't."

As the 2002 season started, Heron wasn't sure how his team would handle a challenging schedule. But Camden County responded to the test week-by-week, and here they are, 10-0 again.(In case you're counting, Heron is 28-4 as Camden's head coach.)

"We probably weren't a very good football team when we started out," Heron said. "But we had a bunch of kids who were hungry from last year. But we've gotten better every week."

Heron says that they're going to need a strong effort Friday night against a Jonesboro team that can be explosive.

"They're a very balanced team, they throw about as often as they run. Their quarterback is an All-State caliber kid who, I believe, started on their Final Four basketball team, and they have a receiver who started on that Final Four team as well. You know they've got some great skill people. So we're going to have to move the ball and try and keep that explosive offense off the field as best we can. We have to limit their big-play potential."

To do that, Heron will look to senior running back Kevon Hutchinson, who's rushed for 980 yards this year, averaging 10 yards per carry, and junior quarterback Emanuel Bacon, who's thrown for 14 touchdowns this year with just three interceptions.

"He's been very efficient for us," he said.

So on to the playoffs.

"We're 10-0 but we don't feel that's any reason to feel satisfied," he said. "I guess the days are long gone when you can sit back and enjoy every win. We remember what happened last year. We're doing everything we can to make sure it doesn't happen again."


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