Jeff Herron

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.

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.

The Truth

By: Kipp Branch

TheSouthernSportsEdition.com news services

It has been an interesting week in the crowded fish tank known as the local sports market in Coastal Georgia.

It is a crowded field indeed, where different outlets rush to be the first to claim journalistic “Gold”. I understand the marketing side of things, but is it really necessary in tiny Coastal Georgia?

Jeff Herron was recently named as the new head coach of Camden County. That story was broke by Jason Bishop live on K-Bay 106.3 FM in Kingsland on February 6th, 2021. Bishop also announced live last Saturday that an announcement was coming on Monday.

Another outlet claimed that they broke this story on Monday morning before the Camden school system made it official. That was just plain wrong.

Does it really matter who broke the story of Herron returning to Camden? Not really because it was the worst kept secret in Coastal Georgia since Christmas. I just wanted to set the record straight for those who think it matters.

I love local sports in Coastal Georgia, particularly my Brunswick High Pirates, especially BHS football.

I have been fortunate enough to be able to bring the call of Pirate football over the local airwaves for 151 Friday nights since 2007 with my broadcast partner Teddy Bishop, who has the Home Broadcast Booth in Glynn County Stadium named after him.

Many people have their hobbies. Many fish, hunt, ride bikes, etc. My hobby is Brunswick High football. Don’t believe me ask my wife Sandra, who files missing person reports on me during the fall football season.

This article I write every week for Southern Sports Edition is also a hobby for me to be able to give my opinions on a wide range of sports topics of interest to me in our area.

Nobody in Coastal Georgia is taking Stephen A. Smith’s spot on ESPN so let’s make it about the kids and the adults who make it their professional mission to help them develop.

Also, nobody in Coastal Georgia is going to be bringing us the SEC game of the week on CBS any time soon. Point being we take ourselves a little too serious at times in the tiny sports fish tank of Coastal Georgia.

And let me close with this once again. Jason Bishop broke the “Jeff Herron back to Camden” story live on K-Bay 106.3 FM in Kingsland on February 6th, 2021.

I heard it with my own ears. I can’t make this stuff up folks.