Camden, S.C. —
The small town of Camden, S.C. is a revolutionary war site as well as the home of the oldest active high school football stadium in the state.Camden High School
has played at Zemp Stadium since its inception in 1929. It is named after Blakeney Zemp, a longtime supporter of the Camden Bulldogs. The gridiron history is so deep, that Camden head coach Jimmy Neal said it is almost mythical to play in.
"Every year I have an English teacher coming up to me saying one of their students is writing about playing at Zemp," Neal said. "They think it is such a special place."
It is a football stadium that you'd call "cozy". There is no track that runs around it, the bleachers (which have been reversed from the home to away team over the years) are on top of the field. The fans are up close to the action.
The field represents tradition, which is a foundation that Camden residents cherish. Close to 95 percent of current players grew up in Camden.
Two weeks ago Neal asked his players, "When you were eight years old, what did you want to do?"
Usually their answer was to play at Zemp Stadium.
"Their dads, their uncles, their grandparents (played here)." Neal said. "All these guys have played on the same grass."
Many football players started at Zemp and went on to play college and professional football. Players have gone to play college ball at Auburn, Clemson, Georgia, and South Carolina.
Neal remembers when Freddie Solomon, who was drafted by the by the Miami Dolphins in 1975 played on Zemp's turf.
"I saw him run up and down Zemp Field for Sumter High School," Neal said.
Friday home games at Zemp light up, awaiting to make a new piece of history. Neal believes that is Zemp's purpose.
"It's a football stadium," Neal said. "That is why it was built."