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CattouseFan
10-12-2005, 07:36 PM
Running back huge part of Camden County's success

BUD ELLIS

The Brunswick News


KINGSLAND, Ga. - It was a simple play, really, one that most running backs could turn the corner on and maybe gain a few yards.

But when it comes to a back who contains that special knack for making the big play, the simple often turns into the spectacular.

So it is with Brandon West, the senior halfback and leading rusher for Camden County, the state's top-ranked team in Class AAAAA. So it was that West took a simple toss sweep and turned it into a 37-yard touchdown shortly before halftime in a game at Brunswick on Sept. 23.

And, that was only the second most-impressive play of West's first half.

"You can run a very low-risk play," said Camden offensive coordinator Scott Carmichael, "and it can turn into like last week, a 91-yard touchdown."

That play Carmichael referred to, on another simple play called with Camden backed up deep in its own territory, helped spring the Cats to a 47-9 victory over the rival Pirates. That play illustrates the potential the 5-foot-10, 185-pounder has every time he touches the ball, and it's his game-breaking ability that concerns opposing coaches every week.

In the Brunswick game, West carried 13 times, returned two kickoffs and caught a pass. On those 16 touches, West gained 306 yards and scored two touchdowns, leading Camden head coach Jeff Herron to joke that the coaching staff should've gotten West the ball more.

For the season, West has rushed for 732 yards and has 17 total touchdowns 15 rushing, one receiving and one kickoff return. Beyond the numbers, the 18-year-old has gained the confidence needed to become one of the top playmakers in the state, this one season after he burst onto the scene by rushing for 1,276 yards as a junior.

"I'm happy with where I'm at right now," West said, "But I want to get better. You can always get better."

West's maturation process began as a sophomore. He spent that season on the scout team, lining up each day in practice against a Camden defense that allowed just 47 points in 15 games and featured Division I signees Djay Jones (Georgia Tech) and Kevin Patterson (Wake Forest).

"Djay and them were great players, but I'd break a couple of long runs on them," West said. "Then, they'd come back and bust me in the mouth. But that really helped me. I learned not to be scared of the contact. I was nervous. They were bigger, they were stronger, but they made me better."

Two years later, West has developed to the point that Herron says West is one of the two best running backs he's ever coached. The other one is Tyson Browning, whom Herron coached at Oconee County in the late 1990s and now plays at Georgia.

"Brandon and Tyson are very similar," Herron said. "If they got into a flat-out race, Tyson might win, but Brandon is a little more physical than Tyson was."

West, who has already scored a 1,200 on the SAT, is currently being recruited hard by several mid-major teams, but hasn't received much interest from bigger schools, and Herron doesn't really understand why that is.

"I know there are a lot of great running backs, but I think he's one of them," Herron said.

West's success is due in part to the job done by his teammates this season. Camden coaches are quick to compliment the blocking done by fellow running backs and receivers on the perimeter, where West picks up much of his yardage. He's also a tough inside runner, and for that, West credits the Camden offensive line.

But even the coaching staff wonders what West's numbers would be if he were the featured running back. Camden runs the Wing-T on offense and employs several running backs. West is averaging just 11.2 carries per game, but he's averaging more than 9 yards per attempt.

What if he was the tailback in an I-formation offense, getting 25 to 30 carries each week? "He'd be pretty special," Carmichael said, laughing.

All joking aside, Carmichael said what makes West stand out is his ability to find a crease in the opposing defense and, more importantly, get to the opening in an instant.

"His vision," Carmichael said. "His cuts sometimes are just crazy. You look back at it and say, 'yeah, that was pretty good.'"

As has been West's season so far. He admits to thinking about playing in college, but helping Camden win state is first and foremost in his thoughts.

"I'm going to miss high school," he said. "There is no feeling like high school football."

CattouseFan
10-12-2005, 07:38 PM
There may not be an offer on the table yet for Kingsland (Ga.) Camden County cornerback Brandon West, but according to coach Jeff Herron that looks to be changing.

Many schools have inquired about him, but that was because those few were lucky enough to find him. Not in the biggest spotlight, the 5-foot-10, 185-pound West has had to let his on-the-field performance do the talking. That includes junior season stat totals of 1,276 yards and 19 touchdowns. Herron believes that the one school that has been on him from day one may be giving him that offer.

"The most stuff he's gotten is from Clemson because they've known about him," Herron said about West's recruitment. "I mean he's getting interest from ACC and SEC schools, but there just haven't been any offers on the table yet."

"Quite honestly, I don't understand that."

Though he plays running back in high school, Herron believes that he looks like a great corner for the next level as well. That is the position that Clemson and others are looking at West for.

There have been no visits set up, but Herron has told his star player to be patient.

"I've talked to him and told him to just hang on, and stuff will start coming," West said. "One of the problems is that we have a Wing-T offense. He doesn't get many carries. I mean he rushed for almost 1,300 yards in that offense, if we ran a Power-I, there is no telling what he could do."

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CattouseFan
10-18-2005, 04:54 PM
Monday night, in an interview with Tigerillustrated.com, Kingsland, Ga. - Camden County running back - athlete Brandon West mentioned Clemson as an early frontrunner for his services.

Last week, in our Clemson Target List: Athletes feature, we mentioned West as a prospect on the coaching staff's radar.

"I'm going to try to take a visit to Clemson in the next few weeks," West told Tigerillustrated.com late Monday night. "I like them a lot right now, probably better than everybody else. They've been recruiting me for awhile, and I'm getting stuff from Georgia, LSU, Memphis, Duke, Wake Forest, Troy, Western Michigan and a couple of others. Western Michigan has already offered a full scholarship."

Last season West rushed for nearly 1,300 yards and 19 touchdowns. This fall he has amassed over 850 yards and 19 touchdowns, plus he has totaled nearly 300 yards receiving.

"I'm very versatile. I have an ability to find the hole when I'm running with the football. I have great vision, and I have good eyes. I like getting to the outside, and showing off my quickness, because I do look at myself as a quick back," West said. "I think most schools would take me as a running back, but they seem to be looking at me for a little bit of everything - running back, wide receiver and some at corner."

Clemson, Wake Forest, Troy and Western Michigan round out the early top four for the under-the-radar prospect from Camden County.

Clemson "I like the surroundings up there, I like the atmosphere, and they have a great tradition. It seems like a fun place to play college football. They have been recruiting me for awhile."

Wake Forest "I like how they do things at Wake, the way they balance academics and athletics. They run the ball a lot. Wake has a good coaching staff."

Troy "They went to a bowl game last year, so they are on the rise now. I've heard they have a nice environment, and they have built on to their facilities."

Western Michigan "I like their coaches. I've talked with their staff a few times. They've told me some things I can do for them on offense, and how I fit into what they're trying to do."

West does have an official visit set with Western Michigan for Friday, December 2nd. He is hopeful he'll set up a trip with Clemson, Wake and Troy, as well.

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CattouseFan
10-31-2005, 12:12 PM
Camden County, ranked No. 1 in Class AAAAA, finished the regular season unbeaten with a 48-22 victory against Bradwell Institute. Brandon West scored three touchdowns and became the leading scorer in Camden County history. West scored on runs of 14, 2 and 6 yards. Camden led 21-6 at halftime.

CattouseFan
11-05-2005, 07:30 PM
No. 1 CAMDEN HAS NO PROBLEMS IN OPENING ROUND: David Coleman had a punt and an interception return for a touchdown and Brandon West scored three times to lead Camden County to a 50-0 rout over Newnan.

West scored on runs of 1, 80 and 38 yards for Camden (11-0).

CattouseFan
11-15-2005, 11:18 PM
PROMINENT STATE PROGRAMS MEET: Brandon West ran for 107 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries as top-ranked Camden County beat Valdsota 16-7.

Fullback Mario Roberts added 90 yards on 14 carries for Camden (12-0).

Valdosta took a 7-6 lead in the first quarter on a 3-yard touchdown run by Alfrie Johnson. But Camden took the lead right back when West scored on an 8-yard run before the half.

Camden's last score came when Johnson was called for intentional grounding.

CattouseFan
11-21-2005, 05:51 PM
Top-ranked Cats beaten in state quarterfinals


By KEVIN PRICE

The Brunswick News

Camden County had not lost a game at home since falling to Riverdale in the first round of the state playoffs in the 2001 season, which also had been the last time the Wildcats lost a game short of the state semifinals.

So, it seemed only natural that the state's top-ranked team would beat Dacula Saturday night in a Class AAAAA state quarterfinal game in Kingsland to earn its customary trip this weekend to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta for the state semifinals.

Yet, Chris Gilman Stadium was as quiet as it has ever been since Jeff Herron took over the Camden football program five years ago on Saturday night, once the Falcons took their postgame celebration inside the visiting team's locker room following their shocking 10-7 victory over the Wildcats.

The home stands emptied quickly after the game and the stadium was eerily quiet, which made it easier to hear the words that Mario Roberts, Camden's soft-spoken junior fullback, struggled to find as he choked back tears on his way off the field.

"This hurts really bad," said Roberts, who was Camden's leading rusher with 93 yards on 16 carries. "I've never felt worse than this."

Everyone associated with the Camden program was having trouble stomaching a loss that stunned them as much as anyone else.

"Dacula has a good football team," Herron said. "I just didn't think they could come down here and beat us."

The loss was just the third in the last four seasons for Camden (12-1), which had won all of its previous 13 games the last three seasons on the way to semifinal berths. The Wildcats lost their only game in overtime to Brookwood in 2002, and finished unbeaten the next season to win their first state championship before again falling in the semifinals last season to eventual state champion Lowndes.

There weren't many people who thought Dacula (12-1) could actually pull off the upset of Camden, which appeared destined to face second-ranked Brookwood this Saturday night in a much-anticipated semifinal matchup between the top two teams in the state rankings.

But the Falcons, the Region 7-AAAAA champions, were up to the challenge, scoring all of their points in the final three minutes of the second quarter and then holding off a comeback attempt by the Wildcats in the final period to punch their ticket to the Dome, where they'll get a rematch against Brookwood, the only team to beat the Falcons this season.

"We obviously had to overcome the mystique of Camden, and our kids played well," said Dacula head coach Kevin Maloof.

What made the loss sting more for the Wildcats was that it looked like they might pull off an improbable win of their own in the final quarter after getting shut out for three periods.

Camden trailed by the 10-7 final score when it got the ball back one last time at its own 27-yard line with 2:53 remaining. The Wildcats quickly moved into Dacula territory by completing several short passes, and on first down from the Falcons' 41, senior quarterback Barry Johnson hit sophomore receiver A.J. McCrary for what appeared to be a go-ahead touchdown.

However, the touchdown was wiped out when Camden was penalized for holding on the play, which brought out a chorus of boos from the home stands as Camden watched in disbelief as the officials marked off the penalty yardage.

"They could have probably called holding on every play. For them to call it there," said Herron, his voice trailing off before he completed his thought about the call. "That was like someone stuck a dagger in my heart, but that wasn't why we lost the game. We had other chances."

Camden still had more than a minute left after that, too, but would give the ball up on downs when a pass on fourth-and-8 from the Dacula 39 fell incomplete, ending a frustrating night for the Wildcats' offense, which entered the game averaging a state-best 45.5 points a game.

The Wildcats struggled to move for much of the game. They finished with 201 total net yards after being checked to 70 in the first half. Camden senior halfback Brandon West, who came in with 1,188 yards on the season, was held to just 40 yards on 16 carries by the Falcons.

Meanwhile, the Dacula offense had more success in one half than most opponents have had in an entire game against Camden's tough defense. The Falcons had 186 yards before halftime, including 99 through the air as senior quarterback Spencer Landis completed 8-of-14 passes in the opening two quarters.

"They did things to us no one else had, throwing on our corners and keeping Brandon West bottled up," Herron said.

The Falcons scored first on a 27-yard field goal by Joe Carithers with 2:53 left before halftime, and a 45-yard run to the Camden 12 by Dacula running back Cole Brodie led to a a 1-yard touchdown run by Wesley Cheek with 21 seconds remaining in the second quarter for a 10-0 halftime cushion.

Camden didn't score until 4:05 remained in the game when David Coleman ran in from 19 yards on a reverse, one play after Dacula's punter slipped and fell to the ground before he could get off his attempt.

"We shocked them early, and then our defense played great," Landis said. "Camden has the fastest defense I've ever seen. But we knew if we put up a couple of scores early, we'd be OK, and that's what happened."

CattouseFan
12-31-2005, 08:55 PM
Brandon West has been undecided throughout this recruiting cycle but has now declared a leading school from the Mid-American conference. He made up his mind after an official visit earlier this month.

“Western Michigan leads every other school right now,” said Brandon West. “I liked what I saw when I took my visit. They have nice facilities and a great coaching staff. They’re a very solid leader for me. If I decide to commit to them it will probably be sometime in January.”

West isn’t sure if he’ll take advantage of his remaining official visits.

“I don’t know if I’ll take anymore visits. I'm probably done taking them.”

Brandon West has received over 10 offers with his latest ones coming from Northern Illinois and Florida A&M.

CattouseFan
01-05-2006, 03:28 AM
Brandon West committed to Western Michigan