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Campbell giving Vaqs an extra push

Sam Campbell is primed for a big year while leading GCC team with something to prove

August 31, 2011|By Gabriel Rizk, gabriel.rizk@latimes.com

Looking to tighten up the ship coming off a headache of a season, the Glendale Community College football team is building its approach to the 2001 season around focusing on the small things.

At 6 foot 2, 310 pounds, Sam Campbell isn't one of those, but the sophomore right tackle has been at the forefront of the Vaqueros' efforts to refocus and rededicate themselves in the offseason and is one of the key pieces around which the team hopes to revive its offensive attack.

"He's a great leader," sophomore quarterback Kevin Hunter says. "He's the biggest guy on the team and since he's been here, he's proven himself as a leader. He leads the offensive line and he gets a good push, so we're excited."

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In his first year out of Crescenta Valley High, Campbell started every game for the Vaqueros last season and was rewarded for his development with an All-Western State Conference second-team nod. But Campbell didn't much feel like celebrating individual accomplishments in light of the team's 1-9 finish, with a win in its final game the only buffer against a completely cheerless campaign.

He didn't shy away from an honest appraisal of what went wrong for himself and his teammates, citing a lack of attention to detail that manifested itself in critical make-or-break situations.

"I think a good example of that was the Pierce game," Campbell says of a 42-40 Oct. 9 home loss to L.A. Pierce College, in which a two-point conversion attempt to send the game to overtime was botched by a penalty for having too many men on the field before a quarterback run up the middle was stopped well short of the goal line. "It just showed me that just that extra rep on bench or that extra rep on squat or listening to coach on the board talking … I really feel like if we had done more of the small things last year, we would have won those games that were so close."

The Vaqueros' success this season will depend heavily on Campbell and his teammates on the line being able to protect Hunter and advance the bread-and-butter running game. But the turnaround begins with Campbell's leadership, which never let the team quit last season and has kept the locker room united on the goal at hand heading into this one.

"Sam's got a pretty rare quality, I think," right guard Ronnie Marquez says. "Sam is always upbeat with everything, always positive.

"He's a good leader. …Everything you want to see in a leader, that's what Sam does.

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