Irish, Campbell use strength, speed to win regional title
Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary running back Parris Campbell was named the district’s Division III offensive player of the year earlier in the week.
Friday night at Gilcrest Field in Ravenna, he played like it.
The senior, on his way to Ohio State next fall, needed just 12 carries to gain 200 yards and scored the Irish’s first three touchdowns on their way to a 40-7 district final win over Hubbard.
When St. Vincent-St. Mary coach Dan Boarman was asked after the game about his running back, all the longtime head coach could do was smile and laugh.
“I think you see how explosive he is, but did you guys see how physical he is?” Boarman asked. “He’s able to run over people too. That’s the thing he’s picked up here in the last year — he’s gotten a heck of a lot more physical.
“I tell you what, he gave his licks for as many as he got.”
It was the Irish’s second straight district championship and they extended their unbeaten streak to 19 games dating to last season. Campbell finished with 208 rushing yards on 19 carries.
“I give it all to my blockers,” Campbell said. “Without them, I wouldn’t be in the end zone.”
For Hubbard (12-1), the biggest concern coming into the game wound up being one of its biggest problems. The Eagles could not match the speed of the Irish, which was especially evident on Campbell’s touchdown runs.
“It was toss sweep,” Hubbard coach Brian Hoffman said of Campbell’s scoring plays. “We practiced it all week and, you know, he’s a great player. He made some cuts that probably the average kid’s not going to make.
“There’s a reason why he’s going to be playing at Ohio State.”
The Eagles’ running back, L.J. Scott, was held in check for the most part finishing with 52 yards on 21 carries. The junior added four receptions for 41 yards, mostly coming in the fourth quarter when Hubbard was behind trying to come back.
“He’s a big kid, he falls forward — he’s a tough back,” Boarman said of Scott. “I thought we did a nice job and we knew we needed to get some helmets on him.”
St. Vincent-St. Mary (13-0) got off to a fast start scoring on its second play from scrimmage. Campbell took the handoff up the middle and ran over safety Brennan Wassil on his way to the end zone — a play he said was a personal favorite.
“People always label me as a speedster, so I had to show a little power,” he joked.
Later in the first quarter, the Eagles were facing a fourth-and-4 from the Irish 25 yard line when Hoffman decided to go into his bag of tricks. Wassil took the snap, tossed the ball left to Scott, who pitched it to Cole Bencetic coming back around to the middle of the field.
Bencetic then threw it to Wassil, who broke free from one tackle and was able to dive for the pylon to cut the deficit to 10-7.
That’s as close as Hubbard would get, as Campbell broke off a 77-yard touchdown run to give the Irish a 17-7 halftime lead.
He added a 59-yard score just 58 seconds into the second half that, “broke our back,” the Eagles coach said.
“We’re proud of them — we’re proud of our seniors,” Hoffman said. “It’s definitely not the way that you wanna go out, but the kids battled. There are things to be proud of.”
St. Vincent-St. Mary advances to play Columbus Marion-Franklin in a state semifinal on Friday at 7:30 p.m.