The Spartans didn’t disappoint.
Campbell scored four goals off its first 10 shots before cruising to a 5-2 victory over Camden County in the first round of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs at Richard McDaniel Stadium.
The victory was the seventh in a row for the Spartans (13-5), who won a state playoff game for the first time since 2006.
Region 4AAAAAA runner-up Campbell moved on to face Region 3AAAAAA champion East Coweta next Wednesday in Senoia.
“This game was huge,” Campbell coach Phil Sandifer said. “We talk to the kids a lot about winning the right way, so it was good to see their hard work pay off.
“It was good to see everyone in the stands. The kids and the community support was fantastic. It was exciting to see.”
Five different players scored goals for Campbell, which outshot Camden County 10-2 in the first half and 15-11 for the game. Jerren Nixon had a goal and an assist, while Andrej Richards, Luis Salgado, Monico Hernandez and Emmanuel Espinoza each had one score.
Campbell took control right from the start, with a goal on its first shot. After collecting a pass in traffic, Richards dribbled past three defenders, advanced towards the goal and placed a shot to the left side for a 1-0 lead in the second minute.
Camden County (8-6-2) nearly had the equalizer 3 minutes later, but Alex Newton’s goal was disallowed because a foul occurred before the shot.
The Spartans kept the pressure on throughout the first half, collecting several corner kicks and scoring opportunities. They finally delivered on one of their chances after a yellow card was issued to Camden’s Joe York.
Luis Salgado took the direct free kick and sailed a shot over the goalkeeper’s head from 40 yards away to put Campbell in front 2-0 in the 26th minute.
Seven minutes later, Carter Fournet took Nixon down inside the box, resulting in a penalty kick. Hernandez nailed the shot into the lower-left corner of the goal for a 3-0 advantage.
Campbell’s final goal of the half came in the 38th minute, when Nixon’s cross found Espinoza 7 yards out in front of the net for the 4-0 lead.
“We wanted to play our best early,” said Nixon, a freshman. “This is my first playoff game, so I’m just excited that I was able to help the team go to the second round. Hopefully, we can win the next one.”
Just like the first half, Campbell opened the second with a goal on its first shot. Jose Garcia sent a cross to Nixon, who dribbled around the Camden goalkeeper Jared Warner and scored for a 5-0 margin in the 44th minute.
In the 53rd minute, Malcolm Smith scored off a header close to the goal, with an assist from Cedric Barnhart, putting Camden on the board for the first time.
The Wildcats took advantage of the Spartans’ young lineup late in the second half. Smith netted Camden’s final score with just under 4 minutes remaining, off an assist from Antwaun Lewis, leading to the 5-2 final.
Campbell totaled 12 corner kicks, compared to three for Camden.
Spartans goalkeeper Julio Tellez had four saves.
The victory was a special one for Campbell, which lost to the Wildcats on penalty kicks in the first round of the state playoffs last year.
“Hopefully, we can finish more of our scoring chances in our next game,” Sandifer said. “Scoring has been our strength all season.”