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Camden beats Collingswood to start NJSIAA football playoffs strong

Ousted in the first round last year, Camden opened the South Jersey Group 2 playoffs with a 48-0 win over Collingswood.

Camden's Brian Whitmore runs for a big gain in Saturday's 48-0 win over Collingswood in a South Jersey Group 2 playoff opener.
Camden's Brian Whitmore runs for a big gain in Saturday's 48-0 win over Collingswood in a South Jersey Group 2 playoff opener.Read moreMARC NARDUCCI / Staff

Camden has had some recent postseason slip-ups while being a higher seed, but the Panthers started out this year's NJSIAA football playoffs in fast fashion.

The second seeded Panthers had no trouble in Saturday's 48-0 first round South Jersey Group 2 win over No. 7 seeded Collingswood.

Ranked No. 3 in South Jersey by The Inquirer, Camden is now 8-1 with eight wins in a row after a season-opening 20-6 loss to three-time defending Maryland state champion Wise.

Now the Panthers will host No. 3 seeded West Deptford in a South Jersey Group 2 semifinal Saturday at a time to be determined.

Coach Dwayne Savage, now 52-20, said he wasn't worried about the past as he was the present.

"We just want to concentrate on winning one game at a time," he said. "We have been preaching that championship is the only way here, we're trying to get one, we haven't won since '76…"

That was when Camden won the South Jersey Group 4 championship in the third year that the NJSIAA hosted playoffs.

Winning the first-round game, especially against a former postseason nemesis, was a step in the right direction for the Panthers.

Last year Camden, as the No. 2 seed, fell to No. 7 Cinnaminson, 28-12, in the first round.

In 2014, Camden was the top seed and 8-0, but lost to No. 8 Collingswood, 18-7 in the first round.

Also to be fair, Camden made a great run in 2015, beating Woodrow Wilson and Pemberton in the first two rounds, only to fall to Delsea, 21-12 in the South Jersey Group 3 championship.

Still, the players said they discussed some of the recent playoff miseries

"I feel like as a team you have to and that is the only way you can conquer it, if you talk about it," said senior cornerback Donald Williams, who has committed to Rutgers.

Senior slot-corner Brian Whitmore is in his first season with Camden after transferring from St. Joseph's Prep, but he knew about the past playoff history.

"It was a focus this week in practice," Whitmore said. "Especially since Collingswood beat Camden in 2014, so we were focused and ready to go."

That readiness was apparent from the opening kickoff.

The Panthers led 28-0 at halftime and that is not a position Camden opponents want to be in.

It was the fourth shutout of the season and seventh time the Panthers have allowed seven points or fewer.

The offense wasn't too bad either.

Running back Ramer Nock and quarterback Monte Williams scored on two touchdown runs apiece.

Senior JaJuan Hudson, among the most versatile players in South Jersey, also scored two touchdowns. The first came after Hassan Turner blocked a punt and Hudson fell on the ball in the end zone. He also scored on a 3-yard run.

Collingswood ended its season 6-4 and while the Panthers hated to lose in this fashion, it was a nice turnaround season under first-year coach Mike McKeown after going 3-7 last season.

"We just ran into a buzzsaw today," McKeown said of Camden.

A buzzsaw for sure, and one that now has some added confidence after getting out of the first round in convincing fashion. .

Collingswood     0    0    0    0  –  0

Camden              13  15  13  7  –  48

Cam: Ramer Nock 13 run (Roberto Lugo kick)

Cam: JaJuan Hudson recovered blocked punt in the end zone (kick failed)

Cam: Monte Williams 16 run (Nock run)

Cam: Nock 2 run (Lugo kick)

Cam: Hudson 3 run (Lugo kick)

Cam: Williams 14 run (pass failed)

Cam: Imir Catoe 64 run (Lugo kick)