COVID just won't leave us alone, not even for seven weeks so the high school football season can go on.
Friday morning, the Lake City High School athletic director Matt Apicella called Marlboro County head coach Bobby Collins to give him bad news.
A Panther player had tested positive for the virus and the whole team had to go into quarantine. Thus, the Bulldogs' homecoming game had to be postponed.
"They called at about 8 a.m. Friday morning, so it was too late to try to arrange a quick replacement game. We'll just put our gameplan in the drawer and pull it back out next week," said Collins.
The Bulldogs and Panthers are hardly the only teams to have to rearrange to the pandemic. Only Crestwood among Region 6-AAA teams has played their season as planned. Cheraw had only played one game prior to Monday night when they defeated Chesterfield 55-24.
When the South Carolina High School League put together the plan for fall sports, flexibility was a primary ingredient to allow region contests to be played. The Lake City game will now be moved to next Friday, October 30.
The Bulldogs will no longer play Indian Land High School. Currently, Marlboro's regular season finale against Dillon is still on the schedule for November 6.
The playoffs begin November 13. However, since the postseason is being limited to just two teams per region, all other teams are being allowed to add a game for that Friday to conclude the season.
Camden rolled by Crestwood to improve to 3-0, both in the region and overall. Crestwood falls to 2-2.
Lakewood won the battle of the bottom feeders, defeating Manning 30-13. Manning remains winless (0-4), while the Gators are now 1-3.
Marlboro County and Lake City remain tied in second place with 2-1 records.
Crestwood and Lakewood will play their annual rivalry game Friday. Lake City was scheduled to play Manning but that game will have to be moved to November 6. Lake City will have the week off and Manning may schedule a last-minute non-region game.
Marlboro will travel to Camden.
The only simple route to the postseason for Marlboro County is to defeat both Camden and Lake City.
However, a loss to Camden and victory over Lake City could create a three-way tie for second place between Marlboro, Crestwood and Lake City. (That assumes Crestwood defeats Lakewood and Lake City defeats Manning)
Typically, the tie-breaker is defensive points allowed between the tied teams, so the final scores could be a factor.
Scouting the Bulldogs
Camden entered the season, expecting to be a challenger to the Dillon - Chapman dominance over Class AAA in the state after going 12-2 last year.
However, they were a week late getting started, due to a positive COVID-19 test. They had to cancel the jamboree that the school hosts, then had to postpone their scheduled season opener against Lakewood until October 30.
They finally got started on October 2 by thrashing Manning, 57-0, and then Lake City, 48-20.
Last Friday, they trailed early to Crestwood but a 50-yard TD pass on the final play of the first half completely turned the momentum. Camden sailed on to a 58-29 victory.
So, after three games, these Bulldogs are scoring 54.33 points per game. That offensive prowess is based around the talents of senior quarterback Jaffari Pearson.
At 6'2" and 205 pounds, he may remind Marlboro County fans of former star Syvelle Newton. He is equally dangerous with his arm and his legs. He has passed for just under 500 yards and 7 TDs.
He is also third on the team in rushing with 173 yards.
Fellow senior Willis Lane is the top rusher, blasting for 422 yards and five TDs. Leroy Bracey, who also plays receiver, has rushed for 326 yards and 5 scores. Bracey crushed Lake City with 223 on the ground.
The offensive line is huge, anchored by center Drake Davis (6'3", 310 lbs.) and tackle Donovan Edwards (6'4", 285 lbs.).
The defense has some tremendous athletes but has given up some yardage and points through the air.
The line puts a lot of pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Ends Jaxon Hembree and Jonathon Chavis each have four sacks. Sophomore tackle Xzavier McLeod has 11 quarterback hurries and three sacks.
Linebacker Jaheim Williams is the leading tackler with 25 stops. Hembree has 22 tackles.
Safety Joseph Byrnes is the leader of the secondary with 19 tackles and two interceptions.
Brian Rimpf, a former NFL offensive lineman, is the Camden head coach. He took over from long-time coach Jimmy Neal in 2017.
Marlboro County and Camden have met five times in the past with Marlboro winning four. The teams were in the same region from 2008 through 2011. They also met in the playoffs in 2008, with Marlboro winning 35-28.
That win set up the infamous Lower State Championship against Myrtle Beach which the Bulldogs lost in overtime, 51-50.
Tee it up
The battle of the Bulldogs will kick off at 7:30 Friday night at Camden's Zemp Stadium, 509 Bull Street, Camden.