The high school football season has been tough for the Camden Fairview Cardinals (2-1), who got a much-deserved break after they concluded their first three games of the season last Friday.
Camden Fairview opened the season with a big 43-27 road win over the Arkadelphia Badgers on August 25. The following week, the Cardinals found themselves on the wrong side of an upset at home against the El Dorado Wildcats, 21-20.
Needing a bouceback after a tough rivalry game, the Cardinals went on a long road trip to take on Booneville Bearcats, the 3A runners-up in the state, last Friday, Sept. 8. Camden Fairview got off to an early start and held off an attempted comeback from the Bearcats late, winning the game 30-22.
The Cardinals continue to possess one of the most productive and dynamic offenses in the state. So far this season, they have averaged 431 total yards per game, with 201.3 yards coming from the rushing offense. The traditional running schemes with sophomore running back Jaden Porchia, the RPO-schemes with junior quarterback Darrell Atkins Jr. and junior slot receiver/running back Trent Haygood and the heavy package with senior Jabauree Lockhart add much versatility to the offense.
Porchia is the team's leading back with 290 yards and a touchdown on 47 carries. Haygood is the most dynamic and versatile weapon on the Cardinals' offense, as he can run numerous different routes as a receiver, explode with speed after receiving the hand-off and is a dangerous return specialist. Lockhart has rushed for four touchdowns in the heavy package.
It helps that the runners to have one of the most experienced and deepest offensive lines in the conference. There are eight to nine players that can step up and play the interior offensive line or any of the two spots at offensive tackle.
Atkins has been an efficient leader and passer in his first year as the starting quarterback. In his three games played, Atkins has completed 42-of-66 of his passes for 687 yards, seven touchdowns, three interceptions and a quarterback rating of 114.9.
Also, he has been efficient in spreading the ball throughout the field to different receivers. Haygood (205 yards), senior wide receiver Jaylen Goodwin (260 yards) and senior wide receiver Takorey McCoy (144 yards) each have made two reception touchdowns.
On the defensive line of the ball, the Cardinals are progressing into a consistent unit throughout the field. Lockhart has been the leader of the defense, as his role at nickel allow him to play linebacker and defensive back. Lockhart leads the team in total tackles accounted for (31), tackles for loss (3) and forced fumbles (2).
The defense is able to swarm to the ball and make big plays in the backfield as the Cardinals have accounted for 20 tackles for loss. One area that the defense needs more productivity in is the pass rush, as they have only accounted for one sack.
This week was about the players learning and fixing the mistakes they made in the first three games of the season, which could make a significant difference going forward. Most importantly, this week was a chance for the players to get healthy and heal injuries.
Head coach Nick Vaughn said that practices this week have been less physical and more focused on film study, preparation work for the Lakeside Rams next week and scrimmage work. This bye-week will be the last break Camden Fairview gets for several weeks. The Cardinals were off physically on Friday as they took care of film work and final notes before the weekend without a Friday night game.
"We give them the day off and let them have a long weekend, recharge their batteries, take care of their bodies and step away from it for a minute, because, you know, our plan is to be busy for the next 11 weeks," Vaughn said. "We're not going to have another break."
The Cardinals (2-1) will host the Lakeside Rams (2-1) on Thursday, Sept. 21.