Campbell's stature not measured in inches

Dion Clisso/PrepsKC

By Dion Clisso PrepsKC Managing Editor
Posted: August 31, 2010 - 11:03 PM

One of the great things about high school football is there is a place for almost everyone. If you really love football, dedicate yourself and find a spot that works for you it doesn’t matter what size you are.


High school football even at some of the biggest schools always has a place for those who are truly football players no matter what the size.


Staley’s Evan Campbell is one of those players. The 5-foot-8 175 pound senior tailback at first glance doesn’t look like a player who has run for more than 3,000 yards the last two seasons.


All it takes to change the thought that Campbell is not an elite running back is one play. One quick toss to the outside where Campbell turns on that blinding speed and takes the ball all the way is enough to change anyone’s mind.


“The way he plays and runs it just kind of blows your mind,” Staley coach Fred Bouchard said. “You didn’t expect that out of him. I’m constantly running into people who are like ‘where’s that Evan Campbell kid’ and they are astonished by his stature of him. When you see videos of him and he doesn’t always look like the picture of the player that he is. He is just dang, dang, good.”


Campbell’s ability to turn in big plays is his biggest strength. Last season he finished with 1,579 yards and 26 touchdowns and that home run skill was shown with a 9.8 yards a carry and 19.9 yards a catch.


Campbell said that running the ball is almost indescribable. While some may just be looking for a few yards here and there, Campbell wants to score on every play.


“My mentality is to score touchdown every time,” Campbell said. “Scoring the touchdown is probably the best feeling ever. Just running the ball and having the glory to score a touchdown is pretty cool. It’s the speed, speed kills.”


Bouchard has seen a lot of running backs in his time and he feels that Campbell is one of the best. That is high praise coming from a coach that has four state titles and has coached at both the high school and college level.


“Just for going out on the field for performing and saying you have guy you can pick and he one-on-one has to beat this kid, I’m not sure I would pick anybody else I’ve ever had,” Bouchard said. “The ability to just shake somebody down from the offensive side, make somebody miss and then run away from whoever else is chasing them. I’ve coached in college too, and he is the most impressive player to be so, so elusive.


“I know it’s not a fair comparison but he does for us what Darrin Sproles was for Olathe North and Kansas State. There are times last year on video where we block two people and Evan makes four miss and runs away from five.”


The road to being one of the top running backs in the Kansas City Metro started when he was a freshman. Campbell was at Oak Park and even though he was lighting up the freshman games, there was a decent amount of uncertainty of what his football career would become. There was a new high school and nobody knew how long it would take to become successful at that new school.


In walked Bouchard and his four state titles in five years. The former Harrisonville coach would be taking a group of young players who had been a part of a good program at Oak Park and trying to make a new program from scratch.


Campbell was a little unsure wondering whether his sophomore year would be one with success or growing pains.


“I wasn’t sure (about the move to Staley) because we didn’t know who the coach was,” Campbell said. “But when I heard Fred Bouchard was going to be the coach I got excited fast. I love it, I love it here.”


Staley got off to a quick start two years ago and Campbell was a major part of the Falcon’s success. Last season Staley went undefeated in the regular season before falling to eventual Class 4 state champion Kearney in the second round of the playoffs.


Campbell’s strong season earned him a nomination for the Fontana Award. The Fontana is given annually to the top Class 1-4 offensive player in the Metro. This season the Falcons have moved up to Class 5 and a strong season by Campbell could see him earn a rare distinction of being nominated for both the Fontana and the Simone.


“It would mean a lot because I would get my names up with the big guys,” Campbell said. “I’ve been under looked because I’ve been in a small class and it would be pretty sweet to have my name up there to show I’m just as good as they are.”


Campbell will get a chance to find out where he stands in week No. 2 when the Falcons travel to Blue Springs and take on the Wildcats and all-state running back Darrian Miller. The game could be a showdown between two of the Metro’s top players who just happen to be friends.


“It’s going to be really good because he is my friend,” Campbell said. “I’ve known him for a while. He is a really good player and I respect him a lot.”


While Miller has earned Campbell’s respect, Campbell shouldn’t have to work to earn anyone else’s respect no matter what class he plays in.


Dion Clisso is the Managing Editor of PrepsKC. To reach him send e-mail to