Camp for Camden High School concluded yesterday afternoon and the first scrimmage is tonight at South Carolina State University. Lugoff-Elgin also hosts a scrimmage tonight at Lugoff-Elgin Stadium, which I think I would like to go to. Summer school is over at USC and teachers for the Kershaw County School District report on Monday. All these signs can only point to one thing.
It's Time for High School Football.
It's hot outside and kids around the state have been sweating like there's no tomorrow for a week. Of course some teams choose to practice at night. Which is what Camden has done; practicing around midnight during this week's camp. There's one week to go before the season begins and the first time under the lights in front of actual people takes place at Zemp Stadium in the 34th edition of the Camden Shrine Club Football Jamboree.
I'm excited. I've said it before, other than the weeks leading up to the Daytona 500 in February, this is my favorite time of the year. The Sprint Cup Series is heading to some fun race tracks. The summer is slowly coming to an end and fall is almost upon us. And the start of High School, College, and NFL Football are all very near.
I think it might have something to do with the fact that we live in a "Football" community. Camden's been playing football for 115 years. While Lugoff-Elgin and North Central haven't been in existence that long, each have a tradition of excellence when it comes to the gridiron. But the community embraces football. Each Friday night Zemp, L-E, and Boonetown stadiums are all packed with fans eagerly awaiting that first big play for a touchdown, hear the marching band play their fight song after a victory, and wake up the next morning beaming with pride that their team has won.
This year's football season presents some very interesting story lines for all three Kershaw County schools. We'll start with North Central. 2009 marks a new era as Louis Clyburn comes to town to take over as the school's head coach. Clyburn grew up just a few miles from NCHS and graduated from Camden High School in 1990. After stints as a college assistant, he became head coach at Andrew Jackson a season ago, bringing the Volunteers up to one of the upper echelon teams in class AA. Now he comes to Boonetown and will try to regroup and rebuild that team after a disappointing 1-9 2008 season. Numbers are up at NCHS, and things are looking up for the Knights as they try to dethrone Chesterfield as the top dog in class A in South Carolina.
Lugoff-Elgin is a team that I'm really not sure about for 2009. They were strong a year ago, going to the Upper State Semi-final game against Daniel. The Demons lost a lot from last year's team, but in reality they have a lot coming back including starting quarterback Forrest Koumas. Koumas is an outstanding baseball player, but the football team I think is going to rely on him more than Scott Jones would like. I think LE can go deep in the playoffs this year if their running game can stay on point. I think the running game is gonna be key for these guys. Their defense was also strong a season ago and I think they've got most of those guys back. LE has one chance left to do something in class AAA, as it's projected they will move to class AAAA in 2010.
Camden has had success on the hardwood and baseball diamond this year. Both Boys Basketball and Baseball teams advanced to state championship games, with the Basketball team winning their first state title in 51 years, and the baseball team coming up just one run short against Belton-Honea Path. Camden turned things around last year with a 7-6 record and with an experienced quarterback, running back, and a pair of wide receivers coming back, I think they can continue the success they've seen this year. The biggest question is going to be the defense, who has lost their top two tacklers from a season ago. Chris Outten graduated, and Roland Johnson has transferred to Byrnes. Camden's offensive line is experienced at places, but will see some youth this year. The wide receiver core will see Alvonta Jenkins team up with Brandon Kersey and Trevor Jefferson, who transferred back to Camden after leaving during last season.
I'll be hosting a special Round Table Season Preview for Kershaw County Football next Thursday night (August 13th ad 6:00 on KOOL 102.7 FM) and we'll talk more about the three county schools. And don't forget the 34th annual Camden Shrine Club Football Jamboree on Friday, August 14th. KOOL 102.7's live coverage begins at 6:00. Kickoff in the first mini-game is at 6:30.