Camden’s Herron says Miami Central ‘might be the most talented team we’ve ever played’

Camden County, the No. 1-ranked team in Class AAAAA, plays at home Friday against Central of Miami, the second-ranked team nationally by USA Today.

GHSF Daily spoke with Camden County coach Jeff Herron on Tuesday. Here are our best five questions and his answers.

How does Miami Central compare to other out-of-state opponents you might’ve played such as Hoover or Aiken? Is it the same, or are you more anxious?

“We’re certainly more anxious. I don’t think there’s any question that this might be the most talented team we’ve ever played in state or out of state. They’ve got seven or eight kids already committed D-I. They’re scary good. On offense, they’ve got a running back [Devonta Freeman] who’s going to Florida State, a quarterback [Rakeem Cato] who is committed to Florida International, two or three receivers who are committed, a couple of linemen. It’s one of those teams where you hold your breath on every play. Then you turn around on defense, I’d say Grayson’s defense last year was very similar [with four Division I-A signees], but [Grayson was] maybe not as fast.”

[GHSF Daily: Cato led Dade County in passing in 2009 and transferred to Miami Central along with his top receiver. Herron tells us that Central's kicking was weak last year, but another transfer, 15-year-old Emilio Nadelman, had six touchbacks and a 47-yard field goal in a scrimmage last week.]

Which coach other than yourself would you have wanted your son, Major, to play for, or which one do you respect the most in terms of knowing the game will come down to players, that you won’t out-coach the other sideline?

“There’s a million guys I wouldn’t have minded [Major] playing for and very few I’d say I don’t want him to play for, but I wouldn’t mind him playing for Jimmy [Dorsey, retired McEachern coach], just knowing the kind of person he is. Every parent wants his kid to play for not just a good coach but a good person. He had a way of getting the most out of kids. I see [Rich] McWhorter do that too [at Charlton County]. Kids love him to death. He’s got talent, but he gets the most out of those not so talented. As far as coaches that I knew we weren’t going to out-coach them, I’ll start with Lowndes. They’re always going to be fundamentally sound. Grayson last year was another. It wasn’t going to come down to coaching. North Gwinnett is the same way, extremely well-coached.”

[GHSF Daily: Herron's son, Major, a quarterback, scored three touchdowns in a 59-20 victory for Lenoir-Rhyne over Cowart last week with his father in attendance.]

If you could choose, would you play in Region 3 or Region 1?

“If you were asking me personally, I’d say Region 1, but if you were asking me as a member of the Camden County staff, I’ve got to say Region 3. We can’t survive in all that travel in all the other sports. What’s best for football is not what’s best for the school all the time. But it’s not my decision, and we don’t have any input. We play who they tell us to.”

[Region 1-AAAAA consists of Lowndes and Valdosta, among others. Region 3, outside of Camden, is one of the state's weakest.]

Does playing in Region 3 help because of the greater chance of getting a No. 1 seed and home-field advantage in the playoffs, or does it hurt because it keeps you from staying sharp?

“I see both sides of it. I’ve used the example of Florida State in their absolute heyday. When they were winning national championships, the ACC was not very good. They had to win the tough games with Florida and Miami and be ready for a bowl. That’s a formula that’s worked for us. There’s a couple to be up for, and we survive the others. That’s helped us in that respect, no question. Last year, it gave us a chance to mature as a football team. On the flipside, when we’ve had a talented team, it’s hard to keep them motivated and moving forward. Sometimes, I’ve felt like we’ve gotten worse not having a challenge week in, week out. We’d had to adapt our coaching style. Sometimes we’re getting better on a Tuesday instead of a Friday night.”

What’s the best team you’ve faced as a head coach?

“I’d pick two, one being the 2004 Lowndes team. I’m not sure they were the absolute best, but they were itching to get at us [having lost to Camden twice the previous year], and they had a great team. They beat us 30-0 in a semifinal. I don’t know if we’ve ever had another physical beating like that. They ran it down our throats, and we couldn’t move it an inch. The other might be my second year at Cedar Shoals [1992]. We went to Valdosta and got beat 35-0. We were not a great team at Cedar, but they still beat us and made us like it. It was a very intimidating atmosphere in Valdosta in those days. I remember when we got there, their kids were running around the field. It looked like they were having a full-fledged flag football Super Bowl. It didn’t slow them down a bit. They put their uniforms on and wore us down. We were done before halftime.”

67 comments Add your comment

topper

August 31st, 2010
10:57 am

Good luck this Friday Coach!!!! Can’t wait to see the results I know our boys will be ready to give it there best! Looks like they will have there hands full.. I will be there cowbell in hand!!! GO CATS!

TUFAMU

August 31st, 2010
11:06 am

We’re going to see what Camden is really made out of!!

rancher

August 31st, 2010
11:42 am

Coach Herron’s decision not to let Lowndes have the ball in the forth quarter last year was the difference in the game. The players had to execute, but continuing to go on forth down and having the stratgy he implemented brought them another state championship rather than Lowndes. Good Luck Friday night, the Viking nation will be pulling for you.

Simpson

August 31st, 2010
11:50 am

This should be an excellent game. Hopefully with a lot more than just the state of Georgia looking on at Chris Gilman we will be able to pull it off unlike the ESPN game versus Hoover last year. I will be there, and rooting win or lose.

plowboy

August 31st, 2010
12:41 pm

don`t let us down camden, this viking will be pulling for you guys!

trojan94

August 31st, 2010
12:52 pm

GOOD LUCK CAMDEN FROM THE TROJAN NATION!!

CJDawg

August 31st, 2010
2:01 pm

is this going to be televised anywhere???

JDA

August 31st, 2010
2:23 pm

Rancher………your post was most accurate. I was at the game and whomever won that classic last year was going to win the state championship. I love smash mouth football and that game delivered to the fullest. I tell my friends who were not in attendance, that last drive was the most beautifullest drives I have ever seen…..high school, college or pro. 9+ minutes were taken off the clock, a couple of gutsy 4th down conversions ordered by Herron, and the Wilcats end up litterally on the one foot line of Lowndes with the clock striking zero.

Viking 68

August 31st, 2010
3:48 pm

Good luck Camden, put it on those Fl boys, all of Lowndes is pulling for u

Newnan number 1 fan

August 31st, 2010
4:53 pm

Good luck, beat FL. and we will see you in the playoff

BulldogsCanStillBite

August 31st, 2010
5:24 pm

Let’s go Camden – give a real Georgia football welcome to those guys from South FL!!!!

Columbia Bluete

August 31st, 2010
6:45 pm

We do appreciate all the kind words. I can assure you, Miami Central is for real. We will have to play a great game.

Colquitt County Fans

August 31st, 2010
6:55 pm

Camden beat Central Miami!!!!

bksmith

August 31st, 2010
7:24 pm

Lowndes domintaed the game against camden last year. We drove to camdens 30 yard line at least 6 or 7 times and only scored once. We made a costly fumble and khary franklin #2 dropped a punt. The best team does not always win and that was the case that nigght. At lowndes or a nuetral field that game goes lowndes way. No disprespect for camden county at all as they are a top notch prgram just as lowndes is. We had no reason to lose that game but mistakes happen. I will be however pulling for camden to beat miami central although i think they will lose by 2 or 3 touchdowns

Columbia Bluete

August 31st, 2010
7:33 pm

BK SMITH

No disrespect to a very talented Lowndes team but didn’t we run 9 minutes and 23 seconds off of the clock on our last drive—How many teams did that against Lowndes—And you guys had Tevin Smith–I heard he may get PT at FSU as a freshman.

To Early

August 31st, 2010
8:45 pm

To early to start making excuses.

Not Smart Enough

August 31st, 2010
8:46 pm

Lowndes ain’t got enough smarts to win a state championship.

Talent Doesn't Always Equal Wins

August 31st, 2010
8:48 pm

So coach’s comment about being the most talented team they have ever played. Talent only is not the whole story; just look year-in and year-out at Dekalb teams. Lots of D1 players to only go bust in the playoffs

Words Not Allowed

August 31st, 2010
8:50 pm

The words ‘Lowndes’ and ‘talented’ do not belong in the same sentence. ‘Lowndes’ and ‘thugs’ is permitted.

UM

August 31st, 2010
9:07 pm

@Talent Coach Telly has been on many championship teams with Miami Northwestern, he was the offensive Co. there when Jacory Harris was there, he has installed the same offense that they had there, plus he has several studs to run it. All they are gonna do is spread out 4 wide and get it to his playmakers and if they drop back 7 or more they are run Devonta #8 all game, kids a stud already commited to Fla St. I have been here 3 1/2 yrs and i have seen Camden play 5 or 6 times. Very well coached team, but they are going against a monster of a team, the only way Camden wins is if Central makes to many mistakes or Camden holds on to the ball like they did against Lowndes. Also when they play St. Thomas it will be the samething. Teams in South Fla like to spread you out and get the ball to their athletes to see how good your DB’s are. Good Luck either way but i won’t be surprised if Central wins.

wardawg

September 1st, 2010
5:47 am

UM,
Point well taken. I believe that Camden has faced the spread before. Most of the North Georgia teams run the spread, Hoover runs the spread as well. These teams may not have the speed of Central. I am sure that Camden will be ready to play come friday. I was reading the Miami Herald where the Miaim Springs top QB and receiver transferred to Central. Good pickups by Central. Central will not be the first team Camden has faced or will face with a load of D-1 players. Camden has a stout defense this year, that possess a lot of speed. The spread only works if the QB has the time to get the ball out into the patterns. Camden has fared well in the past against th, because of a fast defense and great coaching. You mentioned the offense, what about their defense?
I have only seen Central on tape against Ely. Ely was over matched in size and speed. Central reminded me of the Lowndes Vikings 07 championship teams offense, but not their defense. The Vikings offense and Defense were a clicking machine. I am sure Camden is looking forward to the challenge. We all can write what we please on these sites, however the gae will be played out come 3 Sep at 0730 at Chris Gilman. I pray for safe travel for everyone coming up from Miami to see the game as well as those traveling locally to catch a great high school football game. Thanks for the well wishes. bksmith, let it go. This is a new year. The Vikings look strong this year, all of those young players are now Seniors or Juniors and have more experience. Khary Franklin was not the reason the Vikings lost that game. That was a game within a game. Both coaches played a game of field position, and relied on their stout defenses to hold on. Why? Because they new points were going to be hard to come by. Same offense, same athletes, two teams that looked the same. This year will be no different, they both look the same, with the same athletes. Camden may not have the same D-1 athletes, whatever that means. But they line up and match teams well, why? because they have football players who put the team ahead of individual goals. They have had players sign “D-1″ scholarships. Thty is not there like other programs, why? That’s for after high school. The focus is on the team accomplishment, the accolades will come. They have players who love to play the game, who focus on getting grades for the longevity of the scholarship, not just for football season. Majority of these “D-1″ athletes never see the field their freshman year or sophmore year, unless they possess extraordinary sklls. I am just glad to see so many get an opportunity to attend college, even if they get no playing ime on the football field. Get that education, one day these guy’s have to get back into the work force and society, and this will equip them for success and not failure.

Fred

September 1st, 2010
6:35 am

Good Luck to my Wildcats. Coach sorry you will not be hearing me on the sidelines this year. Duty Calls. I will be listening and rooting for you from Diego Garcia. HEY CENTRAL!! I SAID HEY CENTRAL!! WELCOME TO CAMMMMMDEEEENNN, CAMMMMMMDDEEENNNNN!!!

Suwanee 0wnz

September 1st, 2010
7:38 am

Good luck Camden!

I think Camden County has to be considered the underdog in this game. However, between making them come to Kingston to play this game, and the outstanding coaching skills of Herron himself, there is a strong possibility this wiley coach will pull out a win.

Camden’s DBs are a little suspect against the sort of passing they might see. Put I expect an outstanding D Line to pressure the play before they even get the ball off. Miami’s QB is going to face the toughest test of his career.

Go Wildcats! It is about time the national sportswriters realize that GA football has arrived.

Laurie and Connor

September 1st, 2010
7:58 am

Huge game Friday night! It will not be televised, but the game on Oct. 1 will be on ESPNU nationally.

bksmith

September 1st, 2010
9:30 am

NOT SMART ENOUGH AND COLUMBIA BLUETTE, yes camden ran time off t he clock late in the game. I am not denying that camden is a good team, A very good team. The fumble and the dropped punt is what burried lowndes. We were inside the 25 when we fumbled already up 7-3. I am just saying that i feel that lowndes had the better team last year but when you play a team that is loaded and just about as good(camden) you cant make mistakes and win away. Camden had to play a perfect game and rely on lowndes to make a few mistakes to win and that is exactly what happened. As for NOT SMART ENOUGH, apparently you have been in a coma since 2004. Lowndes has won 3 state championships since then. NUFF SAID

Titletown Fan

September 1st, 2010
9:38 am

Lowndes remained too one-dimensional in the Camden game, if they would ever seriously considering throwing the ball that game, they could have separated themselves earlier. I would say it was more poor coaching on McPherson than brillance on Herron. However, this year, it seems that the Vikings are willing to chunk it a little more, we shall see.

Anyhow, good luck Camden, represent Georgia football…it will be a tough one, I went and watched some clips of Miami Central, they definitely have an airshow coming.

schmeckdawg

September 1st, 2010
11:20 am

DAMN! Coach Herron and his boy sure aren’t ducking anybody! Go Cats!!!!

Camden Reciever

September 1st, 2010
11:35 am

To all your comments up there, regardless if you’re for or against us, we will win. Rankings are dependent upon how many Division 1 prospects you have, NOT team rankings. Rankings dont matter. We are ready, it will be a war above all wars come Friday night. All Georgia residents come to Chris Gilman Stadium Friday night at 7:30 because we’re not fighting just for our county, we’re fighting for the entire state of Georgia no matter who you are. Come support

rancher

September 1st, 2010
11:54 am

titletown fan: You have got to be kidding me……a team that has not successfully thrown the ball all year, but has run it down everyones throat is going to change thier offensive strategy in the playoffs…
Now that would be poor coaching…I”ll stick with McPherson calling the plays. By the way, its difficult to pass when Camden has the ball..
Give Camden and Herron credit, they beat us this time.

AVikingFan

September 1st, 2010
12:06 pm

Go Camden! Beat Central Miami Friday!

bksmith14

September 1st, 2010
12:42 pm

I will say this. From Now until the Good lord breaks the clouds and comes back, Lowndes or camden will continue to dominate and win titles year in and year out. I am a lowndes fan to the bone. Graduated in 04 and played 4 years of basbeball for redshaw. Here a man when he speaketh the truth, Lowndes and Camden will continue to dominate. The state championship was played last year in the 2dnd round at camden. Lowndes made to many mistakes and Camden won the title that night. You could play that game 10 times with each winning 5 times based off who makes the least mistakes. It will not be any diff this year. Both schools just reload not rebulid!!

cat doc

September 1st, 2010
1:32 pm

When highschool quaterbacks throw the ball, 3 things will happen and 2 of them are bad. Go Cats.

rpay2107

September 1st, 2010
1:38 pm

We played Camden in 2008 in Kingston and were lucky enough to come out of there with a win in overtime, however I LOVED PLAYING THERE! Besides all of the sand gnats and mosquitos it was incredible. I really loved the atmosphere and being in North GA we don’t really see it anywhere up there. Best of luck to ya’ll. Represent our state well guys.
Also Camden is familar with the Spread Offense. They have played Chattahoochee and North Gwinnett in the last 4 years. NG and us both ran different forms of it, so their coaches should be very well schooled on it.

Good Luck Guys!

topper

September 1st, 2010
2:51 pm

rpay2107 – it is Kingsland not Kingston.

bullnation

September 1st, 2010
3:45 pm

Camden, if you get to Cato he will unfold.. he never played in a bigtime game in dade county and has a bad temper. He does not trust his teammates.. but d line has to get pressure.. Camden should out coach central easily

bill30078

September 1st, 2010
3:56 pm

It amazes me how often people come on this blog and slam one another. I’m a Brookwood fan and could slam others all day but that’s not the point. There are some fantastic teams in Georgia (Camden, Lowndes, Buford, NSWR, North Gwinnett, Newnan). I get tired of national rankings ranking so many teams outside of Georgia highly without taking into account that Georgia is a very competive state for high school football. If anyone is not pulling for Camden to beat Miami Central who lives in Georgia and has no ties to Miami then I have to wonder. My cousin plays at the U. of Miami and I am still pulling for Camden to win (ok I admit, I do pull for U. of Miami often cause of my cousin). I’m no fool. I’m not betting against Miami Central but I am not betting against Camden either. Both are well coached teams. I will definitely be cheering for Camden County.

bullnation

September 1st, 2010
4:19 pm

Central like to blitz a lot that may work in your favor

Ben Dover

September 1st, 2010
4:23 pm

Wow. The best team in Georgia versus the best team in Florida. I would like to see that game.

bullnation

September 1st, 2010
4:34 pm

Central is not best team in Florida.. They have never won a state title in the history of their school which is over forty yrs old… On paper maybe…

UM

September 1st, 2010
5:23 pm

@Bullnation are you from Northwestern

bksmith14

September 1st, 2010
5:44 pm

best team in ga is lowndes or camden. flip a coin…lol

bullnation

September 1st, 2010
5:50 pm

2BALL 305

September 1st, 2010
6:22 pm

It’s great to see the fan support from both sides of the ball. Sending extra guys at Central’s QB may sound nice on paper, but if your DB’s are suspects that’s gonna leave nice lanes and seams to attack. The running will open further damage.
Also, most running teams have difficulties when they are down by two or more scores. The offense would be force to pass when they are accustom to running. That spells trouble. I love to watch to great teams battle. At the end of the game….. THE COACHES will have the words.(game plan is EVERYTHING ). GO ROCKETS

UM

September 1st, 2010
6:31 pm

@Bullnation we know Da West is always the top dog in Dade, but since I moved up here almost 4 yrs ago the football ain’t the same. We know in S. Fla running teams won’t win anything, I want Central to win to makeup for the lost Booker T took when they played Northside without Terrence because he got hurt the week before, and they had to break in a 1st yr 10th grader against one of Ga best. Alot of Ga fans were talking about Miami football ever since saying how over rated it is. I think Central will be able to show them what a team at full strength with a good QB looks like, because their DB play 5-7 yds off the ball, which will favor Central.

bullnation

September 1st, 2010
6:50 pm

I feel u UM… but if camden has a d line central may be in trouble.. they have a lot of transfers that didn’t play together yet.. going from playing ely to camden county is a big difference.. We will see how they handle it.. cato has to keep his composure

UM

September 1st, 2010
7:10 pm

I agree Bullnation, but although Camden is a top notch program and reload every yr, they lost 19 starters from last yrs team. They only had 1 Offensive and 2 Defensive starters return, so it could be a low scoring game where both teams haven’t reached their full potential.

bullnation

September 1st, 2010
7:13 pm

That’s true too.. looks like Camden had a scrimmage too last week.. ill be at the west cc game but somebody up there along with pa announcer at traz will keep us informed

Columbia Blue

September 1st, 2010
8:19 pm

BK SMITH

Lowndes has a great program. Best case senerio—Camden vs Lowndes in the State Championship game—I know it want happen due to the scheduled brackets but wouldn’t that be a great game.

bksmith14

September 1st, 2010
8:28 pm

columbia blue, it wd satisfy me every year if it were camden and lowndes for it all. at least the 2 best teams wd be squaring off for the title each year

2BALL 305

September 1st, 2010
8:42 pm

The West has always had pride everytime they step on the field. Like the old U. Central is learning how to win before they hit the field of battle. My Rockets are on pace to do great things. The great thing about football is-the game has to be played on the field. The offense o-line is the main key that will play a vital part on the field. When Camden is in 3rd and 12. Will they say true and keep pounding the ball on the ground? The great thing that I love about Dade-Broward county is the level of competition is always at a high level. SPEED KiLLz