HS football: Payton Campbell’s career night helps Marsh Valley run past Bear Lake
ARIMO — Payton Campbell came into Friday’s home game against Bear Lake with redemption on his mind.
In Marsh Valley’s Week 5 matchup last season against the Bears, Campbell’s fourth-quarter fumble led to the game-winning 45-yard return for a touchdown in Bear Lake’s 19-13 victory. Campbell had 31 carries in the loss, but the memory of his fumble still hasn’t left his mind.
Campbell’s atonement came Friday as the senior running back carried the ball 17 times for 206 yards and five touchdowns, leading the 3A Eagles (3-2) to a 49-6 win over the Bears (1-4, 0-1 2A District 5) at Treasure Field.
Campbell had career-high totals in rushing touchdowns and rushing yards Friday, while teammate Zayne Damron added eight carries for 69 yards and one score and Aaron Marshall had four catches for 122 yards and one TD.
“Payton has a low center of gravity, so a lot of times people think they are going to take him down, and he runs them over,” Marsh Valley coach Doug Armstrong said. “He also has breakout speed that most people don’t think he has. He finds a gear, when he gets to the edge. That is impressive.”
Campbell scored two touchdowns on his first five carries, helping the Eagles jump out to a 14-0 lead with 5 minutes, 19 seconds remaining in the first quarter. His first score was from 33 yards out while his second score was an 8-yard dash.
After Bear Lake cut the Eagles’ advantage to 21-7 on a 17-yard touchdown catch by Joey James with 4:17 left until halftime, Marsh Valley responded with a 78-yard drive that was capped with a 14-yard touchdown run by Campbell, his third score of the game.
The Eagles’ senior runner added touchdowns of 40 and 27 yards in the second half to help the Eagles snap their two-game losing streak.
“It was definitely one of my best games,” Campbell said.
“Coach preaches power all the time,” Campbell added. “Our O-line works hard, and I just have to make a couple moves. The line does the rest.”
Campbell finished the game with 14 carries of 5 yards or more and a per-carry average of 12.1 yards. Friday was also the fourth time this season that Campbell rushed for more than 100 yards.
The senior running back has rushed 73 times for 718 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. He also has five receptions for 89 yards and two touchdowns. He had 181 carries for 506 yards and seven touchdowns as a junior.
“Anyone that knows Marsh Valley football, we are physical,” Armstrong said. “We are smash-mouth football. Don’t care if you know where we are running, we are running there anyway. I expect our boys to man up, and ultimately, our linemen do that and make it easy for our runners.”
Campbell’s success on the ground allowed the Eagles’ defense to tee-off on the Bears, who finished the game with 237 yards of offense. Tanner Branson led the defense with four tackles, 1 tackle for loss and 1 sack.
Bear Lake turned the ball over on downs on its first two possessions of the game and punted on its third before James scored on the team’s fourth drive.
Following their touchdown, the Bears did not cross midfield and punted on four of their final five possessions.
“We are so young,” Bear Lake coach Ryan Messerly said. “We started eight sophomores tonight. We were making mistakes like 14 or 15 year-olds. That is what we’ve been doing all year.”
James was a bright spot for the Bears, catching six passes for 121 yards and one touchdown. Running back Jaxon Garbett, who threw the touchdown to James, finished the game 3 of 3 for 65 yards passing.
“Joey stepped up,” Messerly said. “We aired it out more than we wanted to, but we’ll take what we can get.”
Bear Lake quarterback Owen Teuscher completed 8 of 22 passes for 101 yards and was sacked twice. As a team, the Bears rushed 23 times for 55 yards.
The Bears were just another victim of the Eagles’ swallowing defense. Through five games, the Eagles are allowing 6.8 yards per pass and 1.9 yards per rush. No team has tallied more than 254 yards of offense this season against Marsh.
Marsh Valley’s stats are similar to last season’s strong defense, which allowed 6.4 yards per pass and 3.1 yards per rush while guiding the team to its first playoff appearance since 2011.
“Our defense is tough,” Armstrong said. “There are going to be teams that find that out when they see us.”
Marsh Valley hosts South Fremont next Friday. Bear Lake plays next Friday at Soda Springs.