VALDOSTA -- Lou Holtz, the world's most notorious poor mouthing coach, has retired. His title has officially been given to Camden County head coach Jeff Herron.
Herron's coach speak is legendary in the coastal Georgia region, but it's become state-wide since Camden's climb in Class AAAAA.
Whatever he's saying, it's working. The Wildcats, 13-0 this season, are an incredible 51-2 in the last four seasons under Herron, including three straight semifinal appearances and a state championship last season. Herron also won a state title at Oconee County in 1999 before coming to Kingsland.
Earlier this week, Lowndes head coach Randy McPherson laughed at Herron's suggestion that his Wildcats were the underdog in Saturday's semifinal matchup at 6 p.m. in the Georgia Dome between No. 1 Camden and No. 2 Lowndes. McPherson called Herron "the world's best poor mouther."
"That's his angle," McPherson said. "Somehow he likes to sound like the underdog."
Nothing could be farther from the truth, though.
Consider this: The Wildcats have been ranked No. 1 all season in Class AAAAA, they're riding a 28-game winning streak, the longest current streak in the state, and Camden's defense is allowing a state-low 4.6 points per game, including seven shutouts.
"They don't look any differently defensively than they did last year," McPherson said. "They look just as fast, physical. They're tough."
Lowndes may wind up being the better team, but McPherson and the Vikings know it will be tough to dethrone the defending champs.
Still Herron insists on talking about his poor, poor Wildcats, who will face a Lowndes team that has been dominant on its way to a 13-0 record.
"I would (forfeit) if they'd let me," Herron said of Saturday's semifinal game at the Dome. "We had a team vote and we were split 50/50 on whether we should just visit Phillips Arena or play the game."
Camden's fifth-year head coach isn't fooling many. Herron knows deep down his Wildcats want nothing more than a claim to back-to-back state titles, something only one team,
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Parkview, has done since the GHSA went to five classes in 2000.
"At this point and time we're excited about playing because we're playing in the Dome with a chance to be in the state championship game," Herron said.
Herron said he hasn't shown his team any film of the 2004 Vikings, although he's watched plenty himself. Herron instead chose to allow the Wildcats to see only film of the two Lowndes-Camden games from 2003. In the first of those two games Camden was held to its lowest scoring output of the '03 state championship season, scoring just seven in a regular season win (those points came on a defensive touchdown) and then 21 in a postseason victory.
Camden is averaging over 39 points per game this season, six more points per game than last season.
"They haven't changed anything really," McPherson said. "It's the same offense, just new people."
Herron says he feels like his Wildcats are ready to take on the Lowndes juggernaut, even if he's not.
"The kids still think they can win, but they haven't watched as much film as me," Herron said.
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