Miami Central Opens Season Against Camden County, GA in Battle of Speed vs. Size

They grow their boys a little bigger here in Georgia.

But as our mother always told us, size doesn't matter. Right?

The speedy Miami Central Rockets start their season tonight against the heavy (hitting) Camden County Wildcats in Kingsland, Georgia.

A loss would cost either team valuable momentum as well as a shot at a national title.

The game couldn't be a starker contrast in styles. It's the first between the two teams, and the first of two straight out-of-state games for Central as it gears up for a tough division and a tilt at the state title.

Central boasts a potent triple-threat offense led by quarterback Rakeem Cato. He's equally comfortable handing the ball off to running back Devonta Freeman or tossing it long to rapid wide receivers Tommy Shuler, Durell Eskridge, and Charles Gaines, Jr.

Meanwhile, kicker Emilio Nadelman -- a recent transfer from Doral Academy -- offers Central an easy three points from anywhere near the red zone.

But Camden County won't be rollovers. They enter tonight's 7 p.m. kickoff on a run, winning their last eight games including last year's 5A state championship (their second in a row) and this year's opener (a 65-14 blowout against Savannah last week).

The Wildcats are all running game, relying heavily on Jr. running back Allen Hopkins. But the key to their success is whatever is in the water supply around here. Their offensive line weighs close to a ton, with the smallest lineman clocking in at 275 lbs.

"Must be all the radiation from the nuclear plant round here," says Kingsland cop J. Seaward before spitting his chaw into the sawgrass and pointing to his partner, a 6'6" man-mountain named Palmer.

Irradiated or not, it will be hard for the Wildcats to stop the Rockets, led by former Northwestern offensive coordinator Telly Lockette. Instead, the game will likely come down to whether Central can repeat their fine defensive performance in last week's preseason win over Blanche Ely (Pompano Beach).

After a blistering half-time speech from Lockette, the Rockets shut out Ely to finish the game 50-6.

"It's all going to come down to if we can run the football," says Camden County asst. athletic director Steve Connor. "In our last two championship games we must have thrown the ball twice."

That might not cut it against the Rockets, ranked number two in the nation according to USA Today.

Central QB Cato needs less than 200 yards in the air to break Miami-Dade's all-time passing record.

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Michael E. Miller was a staff writer at Miami New Times for five years. His work for New Times won many national awards, including back-to-back-to-back Sigma Delta Chi medallions. He now covers local enterprise for the Washington Post.