A veteran group of players are set to take the field this spring for the Camden County High School varsity football team.
The Bruins made strides in 2019 under head coach Josh Sophia in his first campaign leading the program.
The Bruins ended a long losing streak that dated back to Week 2 of the 2017 season with two victories in 2019.
Camden aims to carry its improvement into this season.
The Bruins return eight starters on offense and nine starters on defense from the 2019 season.
Sam Guill (senior, quarterback), Justin Noon (senior, tailback), Jackson Nobles, (senior, fullback), David Neal (sophomore, tight end), Isaiah Hill (sophomore, wide receiver), Dasani Parker (senior, wide receiver), Josh McCarter (senior, offensive tackle), Jayden Walton (senior, guard) and Jackson Midgett (junior, center) all were starters last season and are expected to start this season.
After his senior season with Camden, Guill is set to continue his football career with the Greensboro College football program.
Jaden Clark (sophomore, tailback), Devin Bell (junior, fullback), Andre Barnett (junior, wide receiver), Christian Cooper (sophomore, offensive tackle) and Donte Tyler (sophomore, guard) are expected to be in the starting lineup on offense this season.
Tyler (defensive nose guard), Walton (defensive end), Neal (defensive end), Hill (safety), Nobles (inside linebacker), Parker (cornerback), Clark (free safety), Midgett (defensive tackle) and Devin Bell (junior, inside linebacker) are returning defensive starters to the team this spring.
Jayce McFadden (sophomore, outside linebacker) and Kody Jopp (senior, cornerback) are expected to start on defense this season.
Justin Thompson (sophomore, outside linebacker and wide receiver), Aaron Spivey (senior, offensive lineman) and Aden Yu (junior, offensive lineman and linebacker) will help the team this season.
Sophia, who enters his second season leading the program, noted the Bruins have a good core of returning players.
The coach added Camden will be challenged by its schedule.
The Bruins open the season with consecutive non-conference Saturday games at 1 p.m. against Class 2A programs.
In Week 1, Camden hosts First Flight on Feb. 27.
On March 6, the Bruins square off against the visiting Knights from Currituck County in the annual Byrd Bowl.
Camden is scheduled to play at Class 1A program North Edgecombe in Week 5 in a non-conference game on March 26.
North Edgecombe played in the 2019 North Carolina High School Athletic Association 1A East Regional championship game.
The Bruins are scheduled to play John A. Holmes (March 12), at Manteo (March 19), Perquimans County (April 1) and at Gates County (April 9) in Albemarle Athletic Conference contests.
Fellow conference member Washington County will not have a team this season.
The Bruins will have to navigate a lack of depth this spring.
The NCHSAA delayed the start of the football season from mid-August 2020 to Feb. 26 because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The season was shortened from 11 regular season games to seven contests.
Due to current restrictions related to the pandemic, spectators are limited at high school sporting events in the state.
Camden County High School plans to stream all home football games live online at the video section on the Camden County High School athletics Facebook page.
In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the NCHSAA shortened the field for the NCHSAA state playoffs.
Conferences with one to six active teams receive one automatic berth into the playoffs.
Conferences with seven to eight active teams receive two automatic berths into the playoffs, while leagues with nine or more active teams receive three automatic berths into the playoffs.
At-large or “wild-card” berths into the playoffs are decided by the best conference winning percentage.
The brackets for each subdivision (i.e. AA or A) will have 16 teams this season instead of 32 teams in previous seasons.
The brackets are then split by East and West regions.
The first round of the playoffs are set for April 16, the second round April 23 and the regional championship round on April 30.
State championship games will be held May 8.
Camden’s last appearance in the NCHSAA state playoffs was in the 1AA state tournament in 2016.