The “Black Swarm” defense was buzzing around Zemp Stadium on Friday.
Camden’s defense — nicknamed from its black and gold colors — came up with six turnovers in helping the Bulldogs defeat Dillon 13-7 to win the Class 3A Lower State championship.
“Black Swarm defense — I have been talking about how good I thought they were and could be,” Camden coach Brian Rimpf said. “They really showed it tonight. It was a good Dillon football team, but our guys played hard and just kept playing.”
Camden will play Daniel for the state championship at 2 p.m. Friday at Benedict’s Charlie W. Johnson Stadium. It’s the second year in a row the two teams meet in the state title game. Rimpf told Daniel coach Jeff Fruster after last year’s game that he hoped they would meet again this season — and it will happen.
Camden’s trip back to the championship game has looked a lot different this year.
Last season, the Bulldogs were known for their high-scoring offense and powerful running game. With the graduation of 15 starters and several key injuries on offense this year, the Bulldogs have relied on the defense. They came into Friday’s matchup giving up just 12.3 points a game.
“We are doing it with different kids than we thought we would be at the beginning of the season,” Rimpf said. “The results have been the same. I can’t say enough about the coaching staff and the adjusting they have had to do, and our players, for them to perform like they have been. It didn’t matter who was playing and who was down. They were going to meet the standard and keep performing.”
Dorian Ferguson intercepted two passes for Camden, including one at the 20-yard line with 37 seconds left to seal the win. Four of Dillon’s six turnovers came inside the Bulldogs’ 20-yard line. Dylan Locklear and Jaylen Pate each had an interception and junior defensive lineman Xzavier McLeod also recovered a fumble at the 6-yard line to prevent a Dillon scoring chance.
Camden went up 6-0 on Averee Hickman’s touchdown run with 6:29 left in the first quarter.
The Bulldogs made it 13-0 when quarterback Grayson White scored on a 7-yard run with 6:58 left in the third quarter. White began the year as a defensive end but moved to quarterback after starter Cauthen Best suffered a season-ending injury.
Dillon made it 13-7 with a Jack Grider TD pass with 3:03 left.
Camden’s last state championship victory came in 2001.