By Doug Chapin
A near-perfect 80-yard scoring drive to open the game turned out to be all Campbell Memorial High needed Friday night to improve to 3-0 on the season. But the Red Devils did much more than that one drive on the way to a 33-3 thumping of Liberty High.
Senior running back Ja’les Hughes rushed for 212 yards and four touchdowns, junior quarterback Brandon Reyes passed for 99 yards and ran for a score and the Devils’ defense forced a three-and-out punting situation in nine of the Leopards’ 12 possessions. Campbell had a 19-6 edge in first downs and outgained Liberty (0-3) 371 yards to 115.
“In some things we’re getting better, in some things not. We made a lot of strides tonight,” Campbell coach Mickey Sikora said. “The defense took a step forward tonight. We played against better athletes and it was a battle, Liberty battled us pretty good. We like where our defense is but we’ve got to continue to grow.”
The opening drive took 15 plays, used 5:17 off the clock and was accomplished despite a holding penalty near midfield. A 21-yard seam pass from Reyes to Hughes helped overcome the penalty and a 26-yard pass play to Gabriel Smith set up the touchdown, a 1-yard run by Hughes.
Liberty’s field goal, a 32-yarder by Paul Nickel, was set up by a fumble recovery by Tyler Koleck. That set up the Leopards at the Campbell 38 and they got inside the 10 before settling for the three points.
The Devils responded immediately with a 52-yard scoring drive after recovering a Liberty onside kick. A 20-yard connection between Reyes and Smith put the ball on the 17 and Hughes ran three times from there, scoring from 4 yards out.
Leading just 13-3 at halftime and, in fact, for the first 10 minutes of the third quarter, enabled the Red Devils to play their starters through the second half. In their first two wins, Campbell had big halftime advantages and their starters did not play a full game.
“This was the first time we’ve played a complete ball game, as far as four quarters,” Sikora said. “The first two games we only played a half with the starters. We saw some real good things, but we had some dropped passes and turnovers we have to correct.”
After using a typical spread offense with a shotgun snap to the quarterback in the first half, Campbell showed its offensive flexibility in the second half. The Red Devils utilized both a power-I formation with all three backs lined up behind Reyes under center, and a formation in which Hughes was essentially the quarterback, running keepers or handing off to Shawndale Ray.
From the I formation, Reyes took a handoff up the middle and raced 53 yards to pay dirt with 2:01 left in the third quarter. Then at the 9:21 mark of the fourth quarter he took a direct snap and raced 42 yards on an option play, utilizing a fake pitch to avoid a potential Liberty tackler.
“In our pony package Hughes is the quarterback and we have two good running backs with him in Shawndale Ray and Dominic Patton,” Sikora said. “Our offense has a lot of diversity.”