Camden County 26, McEachern 0

Camden County’s Ja’Marley Riddle (2) is brought down within yards of the goalline by McEachern’s Terry Wilson (3) during the first half of a playoff game against McEachern Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. (Daniel Varnado/For the AJC)

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Credit: Daniel Varnado

Camden County’s Ja’Marley Riddle (2) is brought down within yards of the goalline by McEachern’s Terry Wilson (3) during the first half of a playoff game against McEachern Friday, Nov. 17, 2023. (Daniel Varnado/For the AJC)

Camden County turned three first-half turnovers into 13 points and used its relentless wing-T offense to control the rest of the game in a 26-0 victory over McEachern in the second round of the Class 7A playoffs Friday night in Powder Springs.

Ja’Marley Riddle intercepted two passes and ran for 118 yards and a touchdown, and Jaden Dailey ran for 113 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Wildcats into the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2012, which was the last year of head coach Jeff Herron’s first stint at the school. Herron won three state championships, reached nine quarterfinals and won 12 region titles at Camden from 2000 to 2012. He returned to the Kingsland school in 2021.

Camden County (9-3), the No. 3 seed from Region 1, will play next week at top-ranked Mill Creek, the defending state champion and top seed from Region 8. Mill Creek advanced with a 59-20 victory over Peachtree Ridge. Camden County is the only No. 3 seed remaining in the Class 7A bracket.

Camden County finished with 276 yards rushing on 49 carries. The Wildcats attempted just two passes, completing one for eight yards, which were essentially wiped out by a holding penalty downfield on the play.

“Nobody runs what we run anymore,” Herron said of his wing-T. “Nobody likes it except probably our fans. Nobody else thinks it’s worth a dime, but it’s given us a chance to compete and do something a little different that people have a hard time with.”

McEachern (7-5) had some success offensively in the early going but turned the ball over on its first three possessions, twice inside Camden County territory.

Riddle stopped the Indians’ first drive with an interception in the end zone after McEachern had reached the Camden County 30. The Wildcats were forced to punt but got the ball back when McEachern fumbled near midfield on the sixth play of the ensuing possession. From there, the Wildcats went 48 yards in nine plays and took a 6-0 lead on an 11-yard run by Dailey.

Riddle intercepted the Indians again on the next possession, and Camden County drove 78 yards in 10 plays for a 13-0 lead on Dailey’s 9-yard touchdown run.

“The interceptions were huge because they were moving the ball,” Herron said. “After that, we kinda settled in offensively and tried not to let them have as many opportunities.”

McEachern had a chance to get back in the game when Daniel James intercepted a pass on the fourth play of the second half. The Indians eventually attempted a 28-yard field goal, but the momentum swung quickly when Camden County blocked the kick and Jovani Lewis returned it to the McEachern 4. Riddle scored three plays later on a 5-yard run, giving Camden County a 20-0 lead with 5:30 left in the third quarter and essentially putting the game away.

McEachern got inside the Camden County 2-yard line on two of its final three possessions but turned the ball over on downs both times.

Camden quarterback Parks Riendeau scored the game’s final points on a 1-yard run with 3:30 left.

It was the first shutout for the Wildcats since a 45-0 victory over B.E.S.T. Academy on Sept. 9, 2021.

“We have been awful on defense at times, but here lately they have sorta started to get it,” Herron said. “Our secondary is playing better. You know, they all are playing better, and I’m very pleased with that progress. To win it all, you have to be good on defense, and it’s helped that we’ve gotten better as the year’s gone on.”

McEachern also finished with 284 total yards. Jaydon Kinney ran for 101 yards on 11 carries and was 11-of-26 passing for 131 yards.

Camden County - 0-13-7-6 - 26

McEachern - 0-0-0-0 - 0

Second quarter

C - Jaden Dailey 11 run (kick blocked), 10:35

C - Daily 15 run (Gabe Caison kick), 1:57

Third quarter

C - Ja’Marley Riddle 5 ru (Caison kick), 5:37

Fourth quarter

C - Parks Riendeau 1 run (kick failed), 3:30