So close! Camden football comes up yard short of first state title in two decades

Brian Rimpf had his mind made up.

Shortly after Camden scored on their first possession of overtime, the Bulldogs coach made the decision to go for a two-point conversion and try to win the Class 3A high school football championship game against Daniel on Saturday.

Rimpf put the ball in the hands of Grayson White, one of the top quarterbacks in the history of the school, but the senior was stopped on the 1-yard line, giving Daniel a 49-48 victory at Oliver C. Dawson Stadium.

“We wanted to end the game right there,” Rimpf said. “Thought we had a good play call. Just weren’t able to get one more yard.”

The two-point play was similar to the one the Bulldogs ran at the end of regulation as they came back from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter. White scored on a 1-yard TD run and then ran in the conversion to tie the game at 42-42 with 1:29 left.

“It was going to be in 15’s (Grayson White) hands,” Rimpf said. “Grayson White has had a great season and it was going to be in his hands. It just didn’t work out for us.”

Daniel linebacker Ty Plumblee, who made the tackle on the final play, had a feeling White would get the call to try and win the Bulldogs’ first state title since 2001.

“Fifteen (White) is a great leader, so I knew he was going to want the ball,” Plumblee said. “They ran the same play last time, so I knew it was coming back. I knew I had to beat him to the hole and make the play.”

It was the third championship in the last four years for Daniel, with all the wins coming against Camden. The Lions’ senior class finishes with a record of 51-1.

Daniel senior quarterback Kolton Chapman threw for 130 yards and rushed for 117 yards with three total touchdowns. Chapman threw the game-winning touchdown to Jason Bish, a 5-yarder on fourth-and-goal on the Lions’ first possession of overtime.

“It was a pick route, Jason is wide open. Props to him for getting in the end zone,” Chapman said. “We dialed it up perfectly. Glad it worked.”

Senior running back Jskari Bennetti rushed for 145 yards and three touchdowns. His last touchdown, a 35-yard run, put Daniel up 42-38 with 7:04 left.

Camden answered with a trick play on the ensuing kickoff. Aidan Heriot caught the kick and threw it to the opposite side of the field to Ja Mayrant, who raced 85 yards for the touchdown to cut the lead to 42-35.

Mayrant finished the game with 238 yards and four touchdowns.

Camden’s defense came up with a big stop on Daniel’s next possession. Dontrell Wilson stuffed Chapman on a quarterback sneak on fourth-and-1 at the Bulldogs’ 46-yard line.

Camden drove 46 yards in seven plays, capped off by White’s TD run and conversion to tie the game. The Bulldogs quarterback was 10-of-16 passing for 116 yards and was picked off three times, one returned for a touchdown in the first half by Jermaine Davis.

White also rushed for 103 yards and three scores. The three-year starter finished his career tied for school record in wins as a quarterback (29), almost 9,500 yards of total offense and 115 touchdowns.

White was part of a big senior group for the Bulldogs, which included Rimpf’s son Carter, a starter who plays on the offensive and defensive lines. The group left a big mark on the Bulldogs program, going to three championship games.

“The senior class is a bunch of winners,” Rimpf said. “This is the third state championship game they have been to. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to win them. But it is just a bunch of winners. They set this program up to continue on a good trajectory. We are going to miss those guys. They did a lot for the program and are going to be remembered in Camden for a long time.”

Daniel celebrates its 2023 state championship.
Daniel celebrates its 2023 state championship.