Camden County’s football team goes for the three-peat in Georgia’s largest classification

(This is part of the AJC’s “30 in 30″ series — with quick hits on top high school football teams across the metro area and state during spring football practice. We’re doing 30 football teams in 30 days. Click here for a master list. Hey AJC, what about spring sports? You know, the non-football sports? Go here)

The eyes of the nation will be on Camden County again this year.

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Can the Wildcats win the state championship for the third year in a row in Georgia’s largest classification?

Georgia’s high school football gets a lot of respect around the country, with the biggest props always going to the best teams in Class AAAAA. Will Camden County be among them again this year? Yes, they will, at least in the beginning, as most defending state champions usually start out the following season No. 1 in the rankings. I’m sure Camden will appear in some national polls, too.

The better question is this:  How long will they be able to hold onto No. 1? All the way to the end? I think not. Not after losing 19 of 22 starters to graduation off last year’s reigning champs. That’s the bad news, the massive losses to graduation. What’s the good news? Camden County had plenty of young talent on the sidelines during the championships runs, waiting patiently for their turn. The time has come.

The veterans are a pair of seniors, QB Joel Ruiz (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) and kicker Matt Ehasz. Another team leader is sophomore sensation J.J. Green (5-9, 165), who started 15 games at offensive center last year as a freshman — which was a first for any Jeff Herron-coached teams.

What about the team’s projected impact players? You’ve got RB Kenny Hutchinson (blazing speed), WR Jalen Simmons (6-foot-3), DB Vishawn Williams (healthy again after missing last season with injury), QB Brice Ramsey (potential superstar in the wings),  and LB Quan Brock.

More trophy kissing for Camden @ Dome in 2010? (AJC)

More trophy kissing for Camden @ Dome in 2010? (AJC)

Herron said spring goals are “definitely fundamentals, but primarily trying to get kids that were in backup roles last year to step forward into starting rolls.”

This Camden County team reminds a lot of people of the 2008 team that was considered “too young” and “maybe a year away.” The Wildcats got a big break that year with Lowndes’ collapse in the playoffs, but they took advantage of it to win it all.

Camden County will likely take a lump or two in at least one of the non-region showdowns against pair of Florida powerhouses — Miami Central and St. Thomas Aquinas. The Wildcats, with so many new starters, will likely be underdogs in one or both. And if the Wildcats win one or both, then it will be mission accomplished. (Herron would never admit it publicly, but he’d be satisfied if they put themselves in a position to win both games late, regardless of the final outcome).

After all, Camden County’s fortunes turned last year after they dropped two out its first three games. It was time to put up or shut up, and the Wildcats — out of the spotlight and pressure of the rankings — turned it around in dominating fashion.

Herron, like almost all coaches, only cares about the ranking at the completion of the season. Will Camden County win it all? Let’s put it this way: Until another team takes it away from the Wildcats, don’t bet against them.

YOUR TURN: Which team will win it all in the Georgia’s biggest and baddest division and why? Please state your case below.

Team: Camden County Wildcats

Spring Game:

Spring practice dates: 7:30 p.m. Tuesday

Last year’s record: 13-2

Starters lost: 19

Head coach: Jeff Herron

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66 comments Add your comment

TJ

May 18th, 2010
7:51 am

Good coaches in Camden. They know how to rebuild. I am rooting for Grayson again. Heard they are reloading and not rebuilding. Deep with talent for years to come.

SouthGARules

May 18th, 2010
8:09 am

Condolences to the Camden family in the loss of one of their baseball players. I heard a snippet on the radio about this. Can any of the Camden supporters add details? Tough to win 3 in a row, but I learned last year-do not underestimate Camden County & Jeff Herron!

topper

May 18th, 2010
9:11 am

SouthGARules – It was just a freak accident….. He was playing first base and collided witht he runner, they both fell down and got up but then he collapsed again and died shortly after…. Truly a sad situation to lose a 15 year old kid like that! My prayers go to the family!

topper

May 18th, 2010
9:17 am

cat fan

May 18th, 2010
1:21 pm

why would a coach schedule a non-region schedule like Camdens if he did not know what he had coach Herron is not only going for #3 he is going for that mythical national crown!I think he is very capable of accomplishing it. Go CATS!!

Dosta Wildcat

May 18th, 2010
2:40 pm

Great Respect for Camden and their coaching staff.
Championship will probably be decided again between
Camden and a team from Valdosta. Winner will go on
as usual to clinch championship from North Ga. team.
But look this year to Valdosta, instead of Lowndes.
New coaching staff, 130 guys out for football, excitement
back, playing top team from Alabama, Robert E. Lee.
Haven’t seen this much enthusiasm since Hyder and Bazemore.

frank

May 18th, 2010
2:46 pm

did you forget about moultrie(colquitt county), coming off one of the best seasons in sometime. they need to be in the mix

Dosta Wildcat

May 18th, 2010
2:52 pm

Coach at Camden knows what’s he doing, scheduling tuff
out of state opponents.
Last time Valdosta won a mythical national championship
(6 total), we played Leon High from Tallahassee, and Bessemer
from Birmingham, defeating both of them. They later both won
their respective state championships with one loss, thus enabling
Dosta to win the national championship, along with Georgia, Alabama
and Florida state championships. Not bragging, but that’s the way it wuz
back in the good ol’ days. I think we might be back. Good luck to Camden.

Dosta Wildcat

May 18th, 2010
2:54 pm

Frank
No disrespect, but it will be tuff getting by
both Valdosta and Lowndes this year.
If anybody can do it though, the Packers can.

camcocat

May 18th, 2010
3:55 pm

JJ is a super athlete but he started at cornerback and specials (not offensive center). Also Herron isnt looking for the Nat’l Chanp, he is simply giving he and his players a barometer early in the season. It is absolutely possible for this team to start the season 1-2 and win the trophy AGAIN! Secondly, if you know your region isnt the strongest then you need to seek opponents to show you your weaknesses. I believe this to be one more example of why Herron may be the best coach (in Ga) of his generation.

Dosta Wildcat

May 18th, 2010
3:57 pm

Don’t deny Herron may be the best in Ga. in his generation.
Would have liked to have had him in Valdosta, but I
think we may have one now that can compete.

topper

May 18th, 2010
3:59 pm

Spring game tonight I will be there and hope to get an idea where this team stands to start the year….. But just remember they proved it wasn’t how you start but how you finish! GO CATS!

Northside Observer

May 18th, 2010
4:46 pm

Northside Warner Robins lost to a very well coached Camden County Team in the 2009 AAAAA finals. NSWR had a respectable year by upsetting Lowndes and Newnan, two of the teams predicted to challenge for 5A. The NSWR Team this year is the one we believe would go all the way in 5A but sadly we dropped to AAAA. Good Luck to Camden Cty, Lowndes and Colquitt Cty the teams that will be tough out of Regions 1 and 3 of AAAAA.

SportsFan31313

May 18th, 2010
5:13 pm

Region 3-AAAAA Camden County Wildcats wlll be the dominant Golliath Of Football In The State Of Georgia for the third straight year in a row, and for years to come. They have all of the attributes that will keep them as a Top Contender. I can’t see any team this in the State Of Georgia beating them. Bloggers (Mainly Atlanta & North Georgia Metro Teams)suggest that Camden County play in a weak horrible Region. But Camden County have a Hall Of Fame Coach (Jeff Herron) in my opinion, and they have proven time after time that it doesn’t matter where they play or who they play, the results are the same, beating every team in the State they play against silencing all of the critics. I can see them three peat for the Class AAAAA State Title this 2010-2011. No doubt about it. :-) :-) :-) :-) :-)

SportsFan31313

May 18th, 2010
5:34 pm

Late News: Congratulations goes out to Bradwell Institute Mens Track on winning the 2010 Region 3-AAAAA Title and 4th Region Title in a row. Good Job Track Coach DeAndre Davis.

blu eagle

May 18th, 2010
5:37 pm

They have done it before why not again. They do have an advantage in their region to be able to improve each week against inferior teams each week, but that must be the formula.

SportsFan31313

May 18th, 2010
6:38 pm

Greetings frank,

I have Colquitt County being the team to beat out of Region 1-AAAAA this year. Lowndes will definitely have their hands full this year. i would like to see Lowndes Fall 2010-2011 Football Schedule.

Sportsfact

May 18th, 2010
6:57 pm

Dosta Wildcat please get your facts straight. Valdosta will be a very good team this year, but Robert E Lee from Alabama is far from a top team in Alabama. Valdosta played Robert E Lee in the 80’s and 90’s when they were considered a top team. However, in the past 10 years they have not been considered average in the state of Alabama. Sorry to deflate your always over-inflated ego and bubble.

spwhite

May 18th, 2010
7:06 pm

sportsfan31313
here is a link for you..http://www.lowndesfootball.com/schedule.htm
By the way for those that are interested. 225 kids for spring football at Camden

spwhite

May 18th, 2010
7:09 pm

Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of Andrew Cohan. My son took karate with Andrew and said that every thing said by those who knew him was right on. A fine outstanding young man who left us way too soon :-(

SportsFan31313

May 18th, 2010
7:29 pm

Thank you spwhite.

M Byrd

May 18th, 2010
10:17 pm

Enjoy your success as long as you can Camden Co. Many schools would love to be the only show in their county so they can get all the talent. If schools like Lowndes and Valdosta or Warner Robins and Northside didn’t have to share talent they could dominate every year too.

Camden Guy

May 18th, 2010
10:44 pm

M Byrd! The Spring Game was awesome tonight for Camden. Facts to remember, after the 2008, 15 – 0 State Champs at Camden we lost 18 starters. This last year we lost 19 starters after the 2009 State Champs. We just reload more now than ever! We have some incredible kids moving up to accept the challenge. It is going to be another awesome year!

camden fan

May 18th, 2010
10:51 pm

To M Byrd. FYI Camden is the only school and has an enrollment of about 3200 kids. That is the WHOLE COUNTY. Please stop with the if and buts. Those other countys have more than 1 school that meets the 5A population. Camden is a large county size wise but small in population.

SouthGARules

May 19th, 2010
8:21 am

topper: Thanks for the link. A real sad story. Prayers for his family at this time. For those that say Camden is in a weak region, that may be true, but wouldn’t they have been exposed playing Lowndes, Colquitt, North Gwinnett & Northside? I have seen the light-until Camden loses in the state playoffs, they are the team to beat.
SportsFan31313: Lowndes hosts South Gwinnett on Sept 10 @ Martin Stadium. This game should be a barometer to see if South Gwinnett is a state playoff contender. South returns Kent Rollins, one of the better QB’s no one has heard of, but their defense is the weak link, not able to get Grayson off the field last year & being torched by Hutson Mason in the playoffs. Lowndes should win as long as that Wing-T grinds up the clock & keeps South’s offense on the sidelines.

topper

May 19th, 2010
9:31 am

SouthGARules – It really is a sad thing to happen…. I did not know the kid but both of my sons did and by there words he really was a good kid…. Gone way to young! My prayers go out to the family in this time!

r prosen

May 19th, 2010
9:34 am

Camden Wildcats were state champs last year. Alot of credit goes to Mr Herron and his awesome coaching staff for having the players ready every week. No more Northside Warner Robins talk, they took their lumps when Camden got a hold of them. Can’t hang in 5A, try 4A. The Wildcats are bigger and faster than I can ever recall. Should be a great season. The junior class is awesome. See you in Ft Lauderdale.

HarvardBlue

May 19th, 2010
9:35 am

Camden: Keep doing what you are doing! Great to see a team from the South put the northern fat cat braggarts in their place. Now if we could just get someone to step up and kill Buford and Wesleyan, the world would be a better place.

SportsFan31313

May 19th, 2010
3:17 pm

Greetings SouthGARules,

Thank you for the Information. I believe that South Gwinette will be a dominant force in their region this fall, and will give a Lowndes some great competition. I think that Grayson will be down this year. But it remains to be seen. One could could never know.

SportsFan31313

May 19th, 2010
3:19 pm

Dosta Wildcat

You are exactly right. That is how you win the national football Title..

TarHeelBred bleeds TarHeelBlue

May 19th, 2010
6:44 pm

“YOUR TURN: Which team will win it all in the Georgia’s biggest and baddest division and why? Please state your case below.”

Camden County is a strong favorite along with Lowndes and Colquitt County who are the two other legitimate AAAAA title contenders from South Georgia. There’s a bit of hype about Valdosta after getting a new coach and the expectations are always sky high because of their legendary history, but I would take a wait-and-see approach before saying that they’re legit title contenders this year. I’m not saying they’re not because anything can happen for a program especially when talking about over the course of a season, but I’m more content to watch the season unfold, especially for a team that’s historically been a national contender, but that’s coming off of a down period. I would also pick Northside Warner Robins as a legit contender if they were still in AAAAA, but they are definitely a favorite to win it all in AAAA.

In North Georgia, I would have to pick Newnan as a legitimate contender for the AAAAA state title because of the exceptional defense they’ve been playing for the past few seasons. Grayson is a perennial contender because of the ground game and defensive philosophies that seemingly matchup very well against run-oriented state title teams from South Georgia (they did beat ‘08 defending champ Camden in the ‘09 season opener in the Georgia Dome coming off of their first of back-to-back titles and ended ‘06-’07 two-time defending champ Lowndes’ season in the ‘08 playoffs) though right now I suspect they could take a slight step back this season because they’ve got some very important pieces they’ve got to work on replacing off last year’s team.

Another thing with Grayson is that the nature of their home region, 8-AAAAA, has changed dramatically somewhat from the last couple of seasons and into this season. Region super-rivals Parkview and Brookwood, who have historically been run-oriented teams, have adopted spread passing philosophies along with South Gwinnett out of necessity due to the changing natures of their student populations and the personnel issues that come with it (changing demograhics to majority Asian and the opening of new school Archer). Perennial doormat Meadowcreek has been realigned and is now in Region 7-AAAAA, so that’s one less easy victory (though Berkmar is still readily available for your stomping pleasure and Archer is an expansion program) along with the projected improvement of Central Gwinnett and Shiloh. With the key departures from last year’s team and the changing nature of the region, how will Grayson handle now having to consistently defend the continuing proliferation of spread passing oriented teams in 8-AAAAA during a period of “reloading” when the program was clearly built to stop the run (Parkview, Brookwood) and contend in a region that’s historically been home to state contenders with punishing ground games and run-dominated offenses?

North Gwinnett is another team from North Georgia that I think could again go deep into the playoffs and maybe surprise some people with a run to the 14th maybe even 15th game, like they did in ‘07 before getting pulverized by Lowndes in the championship game, if a key South Georgia contender collapses, but I don’t think that they’ve got enough to beat a Lowndes, a Camden or, a Colquitt in peak postseason form. There’s lots of other teams from North Georgia that could play some pretty decent entertaining regular season ball and maybe make a decent postseason run, but I don’t think that there’s anyone above the Gnat Line that can seriously threaten to win it all this year at this point, but the season is long and you never know what might develop and how it all might shakeout in the end.

pound 4 pound

May 19th, 2010
8:25 pm

YOU hillbillies are really having fun down in those little country towns stacking up teams .You can tell you are not use to anything because you sit around bragging about winning state tittles with a small amount of the kids going to school.If Dekalb County could just combine 15 miles of territory you would be back in your place [in somebodys factory]. Understand that you may have a couple of titles but we have scholarships ,education and class.

spwhite

May 19th, 2010
9:12 pm

TarHeelBred bleeds TarHeelBlue
Great post. Of course I am going to pull for Camden since this is my home team. Everyone talks wing T but lets not forget Defense. Camden’s defense has been great year in year out. If Camden doesnt do it I expect a team that uses the wing T and great defense to win it all. I still dont believe the spread is a good as the hype. It seems to me that too often the spread relies on one great player. If that player is contained the whole team suffers. Example, Lassiter against Colquitt and Camden against North Gwinnett last year in the playoffs. By the way, Camden County will be playing St. Thomas Aquinas Oct 1. Game will be carried by ESPN

Michael Carvell

May 20th, 2010
12:18 am

@TarHeelBred … wow

SouthGARules

May 20th, 2010
8:00 am

TarHeelBred: Very good points, sir. However, Grayson, with their ball control offense, should be able to “shorten” the games & keep these high flying offenses off the field (provided they can find replacements for their 4 D-1 studs)

awb

May 20th, 2010
10:51 am

Hey pound 4 pound,
Im glad you told us all that you have class, because your post certainly wouldnt make that point on it’s own. But perhaps I’m just a hillbilly (geographically you live in an area of greater change in altitude than I, but I’m sure with your superior education you knew that)? You do make one good point, the number of scholarships, and yet you acknowledge your not competing. Perhaps your scheme is too simple and does not challenge all the genious that makes up the huddle, perhaps your generation has just accepted that when you play a “bunch of necks” its a good time to start bouncin’ the round ball. Regardless I will say thanks for doing the classy thing and allowing us to borrow your spotlight until you put us back in our place:) By the way didn’t I read that Atl city schools are entering suit agaisnt your folks for systematically recruiting high school students? Hmm, you may not be as classy as you thought…

SportsFan31313

May 20th, 2010
1:41 pm

Greetings TarHeelBred bleeds TarHeelBlue,

Good Long Post. When it is all said and done, it will only be Camden County that will three peat, and win the 2010-2011 Class AAAAA State Football Title, and maybe the National Football Championship as well.

spwhite

May 20th, 2010
5:51 pm

Sportsfan31313 Whats the latest with your Tigers? Look foward to going up to Hinesville Sep 24.

pound 4 pound

May 20th, 2010
9:00 pm

Awb i know i shouldnt even answer your coments because they are as country as well water,but if you didnt get the point that our county has so many different schools that our talent becomes deluted.Colleges recognize that and recruit ATL on talent not championships but dont get me wrong we are very competitive and our plans are to win a championship every year .

Dawggirl

May 21st, 2010
3:55 am

Camden doesnt win games, we win seasons. All you haters can bow down in the shadow of our greatness.

SportsFan31313

May 21st, 2010
11:31 am

Greetings spwhite,

How are you? Good Spring Training for the Camden County Wildcats. As far as Bradwell Institute goes, I have a lot lot to say,but what i really want to say, would not be appropiate on this site. But here is my email address: SportsFan31313@hotmail.com. If you contact me there, i will be more than happy to speak about it. I will say that a lot of the Alumni there a re speaking quietly but they want a change if Bradwell Institute does perform well this year. We are a School that are use to having sucessful winning seasons. heck, we use to beat Camden County back in the day before Jeff Herron arrived there. But those days are long gone, and our winning percentage has dropped drastically. We are merely a .500 ball team, way below the winning of at least 80% in regular season games. i hope that thigs are turned around this fall.

Sammy Thunder

May 21st, 2010
12:57 pm

I’m trying to get a copy of Camden’s 2010 Football Schedule. Trying to see if They’re playing St. Thomas Aquinas out of Ft. Lauderdale and Central out of Miami. Both are great programs but Camden’s record speaks for itself. Should GREAT match-ups if these scheduled meeting occur.

SportsFan31313

May 21st, 2010
1:22 pm

Sammy Thunder,

It will be under http://www.prepcountry.com click on Georgia, then fall. Go to football schedules and at the top for the year click on 2010-2011.

CAMDEN COUNTY WILDCAT

May 21st, 2010
1:31 pm

TO SAMMY THUNDER, YES WE ARE PLAYING THOSE TEAMS!!! JUST GO ON GAVSV.COM AND U CAN GET A COPY OF THE SCHEDULE THEIR!!! WATCH OUT FOR THE BOY’S IN BLUE, BECAUSE WE ARE BACK AGAIN!!! THE SPRING GAME SHOWED IT!!! WE GOT THE SUMMER TO GET IT RIGHT GET IT TIGHT, SO WELCOME TO THE WILDCAT DEN!!!

E. Robinson

May 21st, 2010
1:32 pm

I’m feeling like the 5-AAAAA State Championship will be returning to Lowndes Co. this year home of the Vikings. Not to take anything from Camden County; but they caught some breaks these last couple of years in winning the state title. That’s really just all a part of the game. The best team doesn’t always win, but having that been said and done go Vikings this year we bring it back to the 2-2-9.

SportsFan31313

May 21st, 2010
2:31 pm

Greetings E. Robinson,

Lowndes Has a great football program, and they are a very good team. But to say that the championship will be retuening back to Lowndes, I would’nt say that. Remember Camden County beat Lowndes last year. I believe Camden County will three peat with the State Title and maybe a National Title as well. Just like Valdosta so proudly did years ago. :-)

Yo Mama

May 21st, 2010
4:30 pm

Hey sports fan you beat a sloppy Lowndes by three at home last year.Not exactly a blow out. And Lowndes won back to back in 05 and 06. When was the last back to backs for Valdosta? Camden? Add th 99 and the 07 championships to that and you can see who is the better program.

Yo Mama

May 21st, 2010
4:33 pm

My bad 04, and 05. and If im not mistaken Lowndes beat the pants off Camden in 04. 30-0? Ouch.

White Trash

May 21st, 2010
4:52 pm

Yo Mama- Remember, every dog has there day and that is what happened in 04. Can’t win them all.

Unbalanced Playing Field

May 21st, 2010
6:08 pm

As long as the field is tilted in Camden’s favor, they have a chance to repeat each year. They do not play a serious opponent until the third round of the playoffs. The schools in their region are AA and AAA sized schools playing up. They route these lessor opponents which allows their younger players to get significant playing time which builds for the following seasons. They also have fewer injuries because of this also. GSHA allows the slanted field so, as far as I’m concerned, each championship and inflated won/loss record comes with an *.