Camden christens field with romp

Posted: October 13, 2013

Sean Chandler swears he runs faster on Camden's new field.

"It makes you have better bounce," Camden's standout senior wide receiver and defensive back said.

Andrew Stevens also believes the speedsters on the Camden team will take full advantage of the slick surface that the Panthers unveiled in a 33-10 victory over Cumberland before a large crowd on a rainy and unforgettable Friday night at Farnham Park.

But Stevens, a 270-pound senior two-way lineman, said all the Panthers felt the difference in playing their first game on the new artificial turf field at their historic stadium.

"It warmed our hearts," Stevens said. "It was incredible. We never played on a field like this before."

Camden, No. 12 in The Inquirer's South Jersey rankings, pulled away in the second half to improve to 4-0 and cap a special event at an athletic complex that has home to the football program for nearly 100 years.

Chandler, a Temple recruit, caught six passes for 57 yards and lifted an interception as Camden rallied from a 10-7 deficit.

"I'm in love," Chandler said of the new field.

Junior twins Khalil and Khalif Williams also sparked Camden's victory in the West Jersey Football League game.

Khalil Williams, the quarterback, was 12-for-19 passing for 120 yards and two touchdowns and also ran five times for 60 yards and two touchdowns.

Khalif Williams, a running back, carried nine times for 67 yards and a touchdown. He also returned a kickoff 57 yards to set up a touchdown and ran for a two-point conversion.

"They feed off each other," Camden coach Dwayne Savage said of the twins.

The game was the centerpiece of a celebration of the new field that included a parade from the high school down Park Boulevard to the stadium complex and pregame festivities that featured a ribbon-cutting ceremony and speeches from school, city, and county officials.

The new turf field is considered Phase I of a reconstruction project at the athletic complex. Funding was provided by the city as well as grants from the NFL, U.S. Soccer, and the Camden County Board of Chosen Freeholders.

The project was spearheaded by volunteers with the "We Can Do This" committee.

"It means so much to us,' said Stevens, who led a dominant Camden defense in the second half.

Savage thought his team was overly excited at the start of the game, with the home bleachers filled to capacity and dozens of other fans standing two- and three-deep behind the fence.

"We made too many mistakes," Savage said. "They were excited. They had the parade. They were waiting for this game for so long."

Camden led by 13-10 at halftime but controlled play after the break.

"Coach was telling us, 'Calm down, calm down,' " Chandler said. "But we were so excited to play on the field."

Camden will play one more regular-season game on its new field, Nov. 1 against Kingsway.

But with a 4-0 record, the Panthers are in good position to earn a home playoff game, or two, in the South Jersey Group 2 tournament.

"This field is a beautiful thing for us," Savage said. "It's only going to get better."

Cumberland 0 10 0 0 – 10

Camden 7 6 6 14 – 33

Cam: Khalif Williams 19 run (Brad Hawkins kick)

Cumb: De'Hahn Milledge 8 run (Ryan Davis kick)

Cumb: FG Davis 47

Cam: Jamir Washington 14 pass from Khalil Williams (run failed)

Cam: Khalil Williams 32 run (kick failed)

Cam: Khalil Williams 11 run (Khalif Williams run)

Cam: Hawkins 12 pass from Khalil Williams (run failed)


panastasia@phillynews.com

@PhilAnastasia

www.inquirer.com/jerseysidesports

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