# 6 in the series - - - Camden Bulldogs

In a small town that sits about thirty minutes northeast of Columbia you will find a football stadium that to some seems haunted. The town is Camden and the place is Zemp Stadium.

            In a small town that sits about thirty minutes northeast of Columbia you will find a football stadium that to some seems haunted. The town is Camden and the place is Zemp Stadium.


            Some will say it has that eerie feeling because of the fog that may rise up from behind the stands. And off in the distance sits the Cornwallis House from the Historic Camden Revolutionary War Site. Some say that it is haunted because of all the great players that have played between the walls at Zemp Stadium. And others just say that it is the fact that the stadiums is on "Hallow Grounds".


What ever they think there is one thing that is for sure, and that is Camden Football has a tradition that not many other schools have. Aside of the renovations of one of the best places to watch or play a high school football game, it is also the second oldest stadium in the state behind Gaffney. It is also home of seven State Championships and gunning or an eighth one in 2002.


            The 2002 Camden Bulldogs are gunning for another state championship to add to the list of seven. Head Coach Jimmy Neal has come in and done an outstanding job with a program that he also played for. He took over the helms of one of the greatest coach's in Camden's history, Billy Ammons. Now people are saying that Jimmy Neal may end up right there at the top of the list of great coaches to come through Camden.


Coach Neal took over in 1998 and it only took one year of getting comfortable with his position. Now he is coaching in his third straight Lower State Championship and has an overall 53-11 record up through last week. Six of the eleven in the loss column came in his first year as the Boss. Coach Neal has a great supporting staff beside him as well. The other coach's are: Ron Duncan, Accie Collins, Richard Bonneville, Marc Jones, Guy Eckenroth, Denny Beckley, Justin Files, Scotty Dean, Brian Kirsey, and Robbie Speaks. Camden also has an excellent trainer in Kathy Jo Bratton. They all have a very important part to do with the Camden Football Team.


            This team has done wonders this year. Some said coming in that they did not know how they would do with the loss of some key players. But as usual the coaches did a great job of getting the right players

In the right position or you could say the right athlete in the right position. I think two very important aspects of Camden football are unity and toughness. This year's team shows that every Friday night.


            Camden's defense is the one thing that people tend to over look because of the high powered offense. Camden's Defense is very strong and very quick. They are led by (FS) Renaldo Gaskins, (DE) Charles King, North/South selection (LB) Ron McKie, and not on the field any more due to an early season ending knee injury (SS) Dujuan Council, but still is a vocal leader on the sidelines for the whole team. This team has come together and shut down opponents when they most needed to besides the one blemish on their 2002 record in a season opening loss at Sumter 23-20.


            It really was not the defense it was more of the whole team just not playing a good game overall. Since then the defense has hunkered down and have been playing great defense. I think one thing that people would say that this defense is known for is adjusting after the first series or so and then hold most offenses at bay. Wilson was one of the teams that put a lot of yards on the stat sheet but still came up short. Which leads to another thing that Camden's defense is known for and that is once a team gets down close that defense gets tough and puts the clamps on you? They have had some goal line stands this year that were just inspiring to anyone who loves to play or coach defense. This defense looks to make a return trip back to Columbia for a shot at another title.


            The Camden Offense is what people are talking about these days. Man first off the offensive line has to get most of the credit. They do a great job and are led by North/South selection Jermaine Thomas (G) and Shrine Bowl pick (TE) Tremaine Mitchell who also has great hands when the ball comes his way. The line does a great job and boasts a RB who has over 1,000 yards on the season. Everyone seems to look at Shrine Bowl Pick (QB) Eric McCollom. What they don't know is how good he is at spreading the ball around to different WR's. Most people know about Camden's WR's and how good they are. What they don't know is that one is already over 1,000 yards and two more are right there at it, one needing 38 yards to hit 1,000 and the other needs 75 yards to hit 1,000. I can't remember the last time a team had three different WR's to have over 1,000 yards in one season.


            On special teams there are athletes all over the board for Camden. The one that stands out though is kicker Jake Broom. He has turned out to be a great kicker and is getting some looks for what he has done. The one thing that I think people notice about Broom is that on FG's and PAT's he gets the ball up very fast and very high and has a very strong leg. He has what a college kicker needs on FG's. In high school you don't see many people jump from behind the line and block a kick from over the top of the line. In college you do and he gets the ball up high very fast and still has the leg to get it there with the height.



            Now for this week's Lower State Title game. This one is going to be a great game between to awesome teams. Dillon comes in to the game with a very tough and strong defense that can play with the best of them. Their offense is right there in stride with the defense. They have a great QB who plays DB also and is very athletic. Their RB is going to be one of the best Camden has faced this year. I think this game will be a battle in the trenches on the run or pass.


            The line of scrimmage could be where this game is won or lost. For Camden to have the edge in the one they must get on top early as they have done in the past two weeks. The Bulldogs must take the crowd at Dillon out of the game early. This game will not be like the previous two years in the playoffs when the two teams have clashed. I think it will be a very close game. Camden must also stop not just a good RB but also a good QB. I think overall the best threat of a RB and QB together that can run very well that the Dog defense has faced all year. This game could very well come down to special teams and it may very well be a FG that wins this one for either team.


            This game will be a great game at a great stadium over in Dillon. People from all over the Pee Dee will be there to take this one in. So until 8:00pm Friday night we can only think what might happen. Come Friday it will be time to "LOCK and LOAD" and it will be no place for the weak. This will be a battle to remember for years to come. For the winner a ticket to Columbia for a shot at it all on December 7th, and for the loser it is back to the weight room and preparing for Spring Practice and Two-a-Days. Good luck to both Camden and Dillon and hope that everyone stays free of injury.




SC Prep Nation Top Stories