Camden County Wildcats

Camden Resurgence

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It has been a tough road for the Camden County Wildcats over the past few years.

The Wildcats have suffered through back-to-back losing seasons in 2020 and 2021. The program has not beaten the “big dogs” in region 1-7A, the Colquitt County Packers and the Lowndes County Vikings, since 2015. The Wildcats knocked off the Vikings that year 38-19 en route to a 10-2 season.

2015 is also the last time Camden won a playoff game. The Wildcats hosted the Hillgrove Hawks and handled them 38-17.

Since 2016 Camden has amassed a record of 29-34.

Here’s my point…last season Camden hired Jeff Herron as their head coach to turn the program around and put the Wildcats back on an elite trajectory.

There has been a change in Kingsland in year two and it has been impressive to this point.

The Wildcats got off to rough start. Camden dropped their opener to the Columbia Eagles. A team most predicted they would have on a running clock by the 4th quarter. Instead, the Eagles shocked the Wildcats and won a 13-10 contest.

The following week the Wildcats went up to Brunswick and lost a hard fought 16-10 contest to the Brunswick High Pirates. That was the turning point.

It has almost been that the proverbial switch got flipped after that loss.

The next week the Wildcats hosted the Glynn Academy Red Terrors and played with a chip or edge or what ever you’d like to call it. But it felt different. The Wildcats trounced the Red Terrors 37-7.

Since that point the Wildcats have played B.E.S.T. Academy, Somerset Academy and Atlantic Coast. While none of these schools are state powers, the Wildcats did what they were supposed to do in these games, win convincingly and more importantly, get better.

Since the BHS game, Camden’s varsity has outscored their opponents 177 to 7.

The defense is flying around the field making plays, the kids seemed to have gotten comfortable with the Wing-T on offense and things are beginning to feel normal again around Camden County.

Camden has won four in a row entering region play. Richmond Hill is up first. Camden will head up I-95 to take on the other Wildcats in a couple weeks. This may end up being the most important game of the season.

After that the Wildcats travel to Moultrie to take on Colquitt County, then back at home against Valdosta and Lowndes to wrap up the regular season.

Is this team going to win a state title, probably not. Are they going to win the region, they are not expected to.

However, what this team will be is…..the team that turned the program around and got Camden moving back in the right direction and becoming a state force again.

Oh, and as far as beating Lowndes and/or Colquitt and winning a playoff game, those droughts end with this team as well.

The Return Of The Cats

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Camden County Wildcats finished last season 4-7 overall. Camden started the year 4-1 and then lost 6 straight games to close the year, including going 0-3 in the region. The Wildcats fell to the North Cobb Warriors in the first round of 7A playoffs to end the year. In fairness, 2021 schedule was extremely tough.

Region 1-7A got a little make over in the offseason. Camden, Lowndes and Colquitt all remained. Tift County dropped to 6A and both Valdosta and Richmond Hill moved up and will play in Camden’s region.

Camden will have new signal caller this season in junior, Mason Robinson. Robinson is a tall, athletic kid with a cannon for an arm. Robinson will be getting his first varsity experience when the season opens, but Coach Herron believes he will turn some heads. “He is a really smart kid that runs well and is a great athlete. He has gotten a good grasp of the offense and I think he will surprise some people.”

The Wildcats will see a new running back rotation out of the Wing-T. Deonte Cole will return at RB for the Cats and Coach Herron plans on using six different backs to run the ball. Quan Floyd will join Cole in the backfield and will play both ways. Brayden Ritz will also see time running the ball and Floyd will also start at corner back for Camden. Jaden Daily will get reps at fullback with Jordan James. A name to remember in this group is JaMarley Riddle according to Coach Herron.

“JaMarley Riddle will play on defense some and will the run the ball for us and is special. I wish I had played him more last season at the varsity level but he is a next level type of kid.”

The offensive line rotation will be Caden Thompson, Zack Owen, Caden Whitfield, Gavin Wright, Caden Copeland. Cameron Chandler will suit up at tight end.

Christian Dallas returns at Nose Guard for Jeff Herron’s group. The defensive end rotation will be Roland Baker, Demeri Thomas, DeNigel Cooper, Dylan Higginbotham and Canaan Graham.

Ian Pederson, Cooper Thornhill, and Nick Petiote will play the new “Cat” position for Herron on defense.

The secondary for the Wildcats will be led by S Jake Lindsey. Coach Herron believes Lindsey will be an anchor for his defense. “Jake is back and will keep everything moving and guys on their assignments.”

Xavier Holzendorf will also be at corner with Tyree Young and Ronald Spradley-Pettus. Riddle will play S along with Jake Lindsey.

Camden’s linebacker core will look drastically different from last season. The rotation will be Logan Hilliard, Christian Gaitlin, EJ Kerbo, Caden Evanson, and Alex Chaney.

“I like this team. I think we are young but will grow and be really good.”

Camden hosts Columbia, Glynn Academy, Dade Christian (Miami, FL), Somerset Academy, First Coast, Valdosta and Lowndes.

The Wildcats will travel to Brunswick High, Richmond Hill and Colquitt County.

I think the Wildcats will post a winning season and the influence of Jeff Herron will become very evident in this group. Camden will be in the mix for a region championship and another playoff berth.

Games that will be key for the Wildcats this season will be Brunswick High, Glynn Academy, Valdosta and Lowndes.

In the end, this team is going to surprise a lot of people. I am predicting the Wildcats to go 8-2 and finish with a #2 seed in the region. I also expect Camden to win at least one playoff game, if not make an Elite 8 appearance.

Cat Prowler

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Jake Lindsey has been playing organized football since the age of four. You can tell it on the football field. The current Camden County Wildcat star has ability that is instinctual and that cannot be taught.

Lindsey is entering into his senior year and his second year starting at safety for Jeff Herron’s Wildcats. Lindsey also started as a sophomore at safety at Coffee County before transferring to Camden County.

His family moved to Camden County as Lindsey’s father, Jon Lindsey was hired away from Coffee County and joined the Camden staff as the Defensive Coordinator.

Lindsey has had the privilege of playing for 2 high school football coaching legends in Jeff Herron and Robby Pruitt, that is pretty good coaching.

“Learning from both coaches has been great. They are pretty similar as far as they love to coach and are very organized.”

Lindsey was born in Dallas, GA, an Atlanta suburb in Cobb County and moved around a good bit growing up due to his father being a high school football coach.

He is the youngest of 3 and his two older sisters, Caroline and Jenna, have set some lofty expectations for their little brother. Caroline just recently graduated from Georgia and is currently at the University of Pittsburgh attending Law School. Jenna just graduated from Camden County High School and will be attending UGA in the fall.

“I have been blessed with the family I have. They have been so supportive and made sure responsibility was instilled in me. My mom, Melissa, is my biggest fan and my dad and I are very close.”

Lindsey also played QB in middle school and last season stepped in at RB for the Wildcats due to injuries. He rushed for over 200 yards against the Glynn Academy Red Terrors last season, not bad for a guy playing out of position.

“I look forward to playing safety. I love it. I love being out there with my team mates and being trusted by the coaches to be able to make adjustments on the field if necessary. But I would not mind working my way into the RB rotation either.”

Last season the Wildcats finished 4-7. “I felt like we were so close in a so many games. Those experiences will make us better and teach how to win those close games. Our goals for the season are win the region. We know we are good enough. We also want to beat Colquitt and Lowndes. We have not beaten those guys in a long time and the time is now. We just want to win.”

Lindsey has seen interest to play football at the next level from Georgia Southern, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, and Coastal Carolina, just to name a few. Currently, the standout safety has committed to the Army Black Knights.

 

End of the Road

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The season is over for the Camden County Wildcats.

The Wildcats were eliminated in the first round of the GHSA state 7A playoffs at the hands of the North Cobb Warriors, 44-6.

North Cobb was the winner of region 3-7A and a #1 seed going into the 2021 playoffs. The only loss the Warriors suffered was to the Buford Wolves in the season opener. They are a very good football team and overmatched the Wildcats.

Camden ends the 2021 season with a 4-7 mark. It was a tough second half of the season for the Wildcats.

Camden came in with high expectations entering the 2021 campaign. This was mostly due to the second coming of Jeff Herron as Camden Coach; I like to refer to it as the Jeff Herron era 2.0.

Herron won three state titles in his first go around with the Wildcats and 12 straight region titles.

In fairness to Herron, he was trying to implement to complicated Wing-T offensive system to 17-18 year olds, who had never run it and were used to playing out of a spread offense. It was a tall order.

Not to mention the schedule was brutal. By far the Wildcats had the toughest schedule in the state. The Wildcats played games against Glynn Academy, Marietta, and Oakleaf in the first half season of season. The first half of Camden’s season saw them go 4-1 with blowout wins over both Glynn and Oakleaf.

The schedule in second half of the season got even more difficult. Camden had game @ Coffee County, Warner Robins, Colquitt, @ Tift and then at home against Lowndes.

Coffee made the playoffs, Warner Robins is the favorite to win the 5A state title, Colquitt was ranked 8th in the state, Tift had a new coach and new system and Lowndes was ranked #5 in the state. The second half schedule was brutal.

Despite that the Wildcats played tough in most of those games and had chances to win. Camden lost to Coffee 10-7 on a trick play and a 50-yard field goal. Then lost to Colquitt in over time. After that lost to Tift by a touchdown and then lost to Lowndes on a miracle play right at the end of regulation. The point is Camden could have very easily finished the regular season 8-2 with a region title and a #1 seed in the GHSA playoffs, instead of 4-6.

None the less, the season is over and the record is 4-7. Now the Wildcats look ahead to 2022.

Camden will lose QB Gray Loden, RB Jamie Felix, LB Jadin Jones, RB KK Albertie, DB Zach Andreu, LB Will Dykstra, DL Iman Davis, DL Demarion Davis, DL Quinton Pinkney, K Adonis Coyle, OL Noah Demeritt, OL Thomas Scholl, OL Tyler Yarborough just to name a few.

The question is now can Jeff Herron turn this program back into one that reloads instead of rebuilds, I feel the answer to that question is YES.

Running Wild

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Camden County Wildcats improved to 2-0 on the young 2021 season Friday night downing the Glynn Red Terrors 46-21, in a game that was not as close as the score indicates.

In fact, Camden was up on the Red Terrors 31-0 early in the 4th quarter and had dominated the game. At no point were the Red Terrors actually in the game.

The Wildcat Wing-T busted big play after big play against a confused Glynn Academy defense that had no answers for the Wing-T all night long. Camden accumulated 550 total yards Friday night in the win, 476 of that was on the ground.

Camden had 11 different running backs run the ball in total against the Red Terrors. The main damage coming from Jake Lindsey, who rushed 141 yards and 2 touchdowns. Deonte Cole rushed for 87 yards and had a 74-yard touchdown reception, Jamie Felix rushed for 99 yards with a TD and KK Albertie added 44 yards on the ground.

Quarterback Gray Loden only attempted 3 passes and completed the long TD pass to Cole for his second passing TD of the season.

The Red Terrors did score 21 points in the 4th quarter to make the score look respectable.

Tyler Devlin started the game at QB for Glynn but did not finish. Colton Seay Came in late in the game and did provide a spark for the Red Terror offense against a Camden defense that was basically playing a prevent formation the entire 4th quarter.

The Red Terrors did put up 282 total yards of offense most of that from the legs of RB John Moody. Glynn rushed for 228 on the night and 140 of that did come in the 4th quarter.

The Wildcats will return home next week to Chris Gilman Stadium to take on Beacon Hill out of Virginia. Beacon Hill lost their season opener last week 66-0 to Choctaw out of Oklahoma.

Pouncing Cats

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Camden County Wildcat football program underwent a metamorphosis this past offseason.

Bob Sphire resigned as Head Coach and Camden hired legend Jeff Herron to replace him. The Spread Offense becomes a thing of the past for Camden and they will re-institute the Wing-T Offense. You will also see less finesse play and more of a ‘smashmouth’ brand of football in Kingsland.

Sphire was coming off of a 5-6 season with the Wildcats. He took Camden to 3 playoff appearances during his 4-year tenure. Those 3 playoff appearances ended up all being losses in the first round to Walton, Marietta and Parkview, respectively.

Sphire was 23-20 during his time at Camden, but was 3-9 in the region. Sphire’s only wins in the region were against Tift County. He was 3-1 against the Blue Devils.

Sphire went 0-8 against region foes and powerhouses Lowndes and Colquitt in his time as head coach.

And so, the page turns and enters the Camden new coach, Jeff Herron.

Herron was the head coach at Camden from 2000-2012. During his tenure with the Wildcats, he won 12 straight region titles and 3 state championships.

The legendary coach returns to Camden with a career record of 312-54.

During Herron’s first stay in Kingsland, he had a record 154-18. At one point the Wildcats won 58 straight regular season games under Herron, which is a Georgia record.

Herron had the Wildcats ranked inside the top 25 nationally six different seasons and the Camden program was named the program of the decade in the state of Georgia in the 2000’s.

The Wildcats are going to get back to being a run-oriented team and will have Senior, Jamie Felix to lead the way at running back. Felix has been recruited by everyone that matters and will be the main weapon in Jeff Herron’s offense.

Camden will head over to TitleTown, USA to take on Valdosta in a scrimmage on August 13.

The Wildcats kickoff for real the next week on August 20th against Columbia at Chris Gilman Stadium in Kingsland.

Camden will host Beacon Hill (VA), Oakleaf (FL), Warner Robins, Colquitt and Lowndes. The Wildcats will pay visits to Glynn, Marietta, Coffee, and Tift.

My prediction is that Jeff Herron will be able to get the building blocks in place this season to make state title runs in the following two seasons. Look for Camden to finish 8-4 with a #2 seed in the region, a home playoff game in the first round and a playoff win.

Running Into The Future

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

Despite the playoff appearance last season, the Camden County Wildcats are looking to put last season and the past few years behind them.

Camden finished 5-6 last year and had head coach Bob Sphire resign in the offseason. This left the Wildcat program looking for answers and trying to rebuild the mystique and tradition of the program.

To accomplish this the Wildcats hired former Camden coach Jeff Herron. Herron is a legend in Camden, mostly due to him bringing home three state titles in his original tenure. He has a won a total of five.

With the return of Herron, this also means the return of the Wing-T offense to Chris Gilman Stadium. No one is expected to benefit more from that offense than returning RB Jamie Felix.

Felix is a great athlete and he exploded onto the national scene his sophomore year, especially when he rushed for over 200 yards in a playoff loss to eventual state champ, Marietta.

Felix did not see much playing time last season due to injury; a nagging hamstring kept the Camden star sidelined for a bulk of the season.

When Felix did return, he was still not 100% but even playing injured in the Tift and Lowndes games you could see just how talented this kid is.

Felix, almost single handedly, kept Camden in the Lowndes game, gathering big first down after big first down late in that game. Camden eventually fell by a touchdown in that game.

The next week, in the playoffs, Jamie Felix broke a huge, long, late game run to tie the game against Parkview. Camden eventually fell in that game as well in overtime.

Felix will be a monster in the Wing-T and will not have to carry the entire rushing load by himself as the Wing-T’s design. Plus, Camden looks to be deep at running back.

Felix has offers from every school under the sun but is looking at Penn State, Florida State, Miami and Florida.

Whichever school lands Jamie Felix, they will not only be getting a 5-star RB, but will also be getting a 5-star centerfielder and shortstop. That’s right, Jamie Felix is also one of the best baseball players in the country as well.

Felix has a bright future in front of him and has the temperament and personality to grab ahold of his opportunities and complete whatever dreams he may wish to attain.

In short, Jamie Felix is a great football player and athlete, but even more important is a great student and person.

 

The Return Of Jeff Herron

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Camden County Wildcat football program has found a new Head Football Coach and it is the man who built the program.

Bob Sphire resigned as Head Coach earlier in the month.

Sphire was coming off of a 5-6 season with the Wildcats.

In the 2020 campaign Camden suffered blowout losses to Coffee, Warner Robins and Colquitt in three consecutive games.

In the Warner Robins game, Camden was put on a running clock in the 4th quarter for the first time in the program’s history.

Sphire took Camden to 3 playoff appearances during his 4-year tenure. Those 3 playoff appearances ended up all being losses in the first round to Walton, Marietta and Parkview, respectively.

The former Camden Head Coach was 23-20 during his time at Camden, and 3-9 in the region.

Sphire went 0-8 against region foes and powerhouses Lowndes and Colquitt in his time as head coach.

And so, the page turns and enters the Camden new coach who is a familiar face, Jeff Herron.

Herron was the head coach at Camden from 2000-2012. During his tenure with the Wildcats he won 12 straight region titles and 3 state championships.

Jeff Herron comes back to the Georgia Coast after being on the Tennessee Tech staff this past year.

The legendary coach returns to Camden with a career record of 312-54.

Herron’s last head coaching job was at T.L. Hanna High School in South Carolina and in 2 years there he amassed a 25-2 record. A year before that he won his 5th state championship with Grayson in Atlanta going 14-1.

Herron was the Head Coach at Oconee High School from 1997 to 1999 and won his first state title there. He went 33-6 at Oconee. When Herron took over the Oconee program the school had won a total of 8 games in 4 years.

During Herron’s first stay in Kingsland, he had a record 154-18. At one point the Wildcats won 58 straight regular season games under Herron, which is a Georgia record.

Herron had the Wildcats ranked inside the top 25 nationally six different seasons and the Camden program was named the program of the decade in the state of Georgia in the 2000’s.

The Wildcat program is looking to become a consistent state power once again and have returned to their roots to do so.

Leaving The Pack

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

The Camden County Wildcat football program will be seeking a new Head Football Coach in the coming weeks.

Bob Sphire resigned as Head Coach Thursday morning.

Sphire was coming off of a 5-6 season with the Wildcats. The 2020 season was one full of ups and downs. Camden knocked off defending state champ Marietta midway through the season and also beat both Raines and Oakleaf. Raines and Oakleaf were playoff teams in Florida.

However, blowout losses to Coffee, Warner Robins and Colquitt in three consecutive games were certainly a low for the season.

In the Warner Robins game, Camden was put on a running clock in the 4th quarter for the first time in the program’s history.

Sphire took Camden to 3 playoff appearances during his 4-year tenure. Those 3 playoff appearances ended up all being losses in the first round to Walton, Marietta and Parkview, respectively.

The Camden Head Coach was 23-20 during his time at Camden, but was 3-9 in the region. Sphire’s only wins in the region were against Tift County. He was 3-1 against the Blue Devils

The Wildcats now former coach went 0-8 against region foes and powerhouses Lowndes and Colquitt in his time as head coach.

Camden seemed to play better at the end of the season, going toe to toe with Lowndes and maybe a personal foul call away from winning that game.

The Wildcats also played tough in the Parkview playoff game, erasing a huge 4th quarter deficit to eventually fall in overtime.

Camden’s wins this season came against Glynn Academy, Raines, Oak Leaf, Marietta and Tift. The Wildcats fell to Richmond Hill, Coffee, Warner Robins, Colquitt, Lowndes and Parkview.

Sphire inherited a team that was coming off of a 1-9 season when he took the job in 2017.

Wildcat Roar

By: Jason Bishop

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It was a very straining year for the Camden County Wildcats. It was a year full of ups and downs and year that saw Camden decimated with injuries.

Overall, the Wildcats finished the season with a 5-6 record.

Camden opened up at home against the Richmond Hill Wildcats. Camden struggled mightily on offensive and Richmond Hill pulled away, beating the Wildcats 28-11.

The second game of the season went a little better for Camden as they stopped the high-powered rushing attack of the Glynn Academy Red Terrors for a 31-14 win. This started a 4-game winning streak for Camden.

In that streak they beat the Raines Vikings 35-26 on the road, the defending state champion Marietta Blue Devils at Chris Gilman 24-21, and notched a road win against the Oakleaf Knights 25-12.

The tide quickly turned as the injuries continued to mount for Camden and the Wildcats would lose the next three games.

The Coffee County Trojans came to Kingsland and beat the Wildcats in convincing fashion, 37-13.

Then Camden took to the road to play the Warner Robins Demons in a game where the Wildcats were vastly out-manned and put on a running clock in the 4th quarter. Camden lost this game 43-7 and scored on the last play of the game to avoid being shutout. This was, most certainly, the low point of the season.

It did not get any easier for the Wildcats the following game as they traveled to Moultrie to take on the Colquitt County Packers, who were ranked #3 in the state at the time. Despite a valiant effort in the first half, the depleted Camden County Wildcats went down 34-13.

The losing streak ended the following week as Camden manhandled the Tift County Blue Devils 35-14 to notch their first region win and guarantee them a #3 seed at worst.

The following week Camden took to the road to Valdosta to play the Lowndes County Vikings with a #2 seed on the line.

Most did around the state did not expect this game to be close, but with the Wildcats beginning to get healthy they went toe to toe with the Vikings. Lowndes held off Camden in the end for a 28-21 victory.

This ended the regular season for the Wildcats with a 5-5 record. Camden earned their way into the playoffs and took to Atlanta to take on the Parkview Panthers, who were the #2 seed from region 4-7A.

Camden struggled again on offense for the first 3 quarters of the game and fell behind 17-0 in that span. The defense kept the Wildcats in that football making critical stop after critical stop to keep them in the football game.

Camden dominated the 4th quarter and came all the way back to force overtime 17-17.

Parkview would prevail in overtime 24-17 to end Camden’s season.

What we saw for most of the year was a team that was under-manned due to injuries and then a very good football team once the team finally started getting healthy. Evidenced by blowing out Tift, playing Lowndes tough to the end and giving Parkview all they wanted.

We will see what the 2021 season brings to Kingsland.