Luling football coach Scott Campbell and his team have endured a traumatic season — on and off the field.
Campbell’s first season at Luling turned tragic when defensive coordinator Ralph Lymas died Aug. 31, a day after the Eagles opened the season with an 8-6 loss at Schulenburg. A few weeks later, Campbell’s father, Hyde Park coach Dean Campbell, suffered a heart attack that sidelined him for more than a month.
In the meantime, Luling’s football team finished September with an 0-4 record.
“What I’ve learned is that good things will happen if you keep showing up to work,” Campbell said Monday.
With 19 seniors leading the way, the Eagles have turned tragedy into triumph. They have won three of their past four games, including a 35-21 victory over Comfort on Thursday that clinched a playoff berth for the 13-3A, Division I squad.
It was a fulfilling night as Dean Campbell and his wife, Cindy, attended the game to see their son coach. Unbeaten Hyde Park didn’t play until Saturday, giving Dean an opportunity to root for his son’s team.
Scott, who’s 35, said his father joined him on the field as the Eagles celebrated their victory.
“Let’s just say we had a pretty special embrace,” he said.
Two days later, Dean Campbell, 66, was on Hyde Park’s sideline for the first time since his heart attack. The Panthers made it a memorable afternoon with a 63-0 victory over Corpus Christi John Paul II, an outcome that improved their overall record to 8-0.
Luling and Hyde Park, which has qualified for the TAPPS Division II playoffs, have at least one thing in common: a strong defense. Hyde Park has held its eight opponents to an average of 10 points a game. Luling’s opponents have averaged 17 points per game this season, but only 13 over the past four contests.
Among the Luling players who have been stellar are four senior defensive stalwarts: linebackers Jaret Sheffield and Cecilio Palacios and defensive backs Desmond Cubit and his brother Shaft. Campbell said former safeties coach Cooper Haralson has done a “fantastic job” succeeding Lymas as defensive coordinator.
“The loss of coach Lymas isn’t something we talk about a lot, but I know they have him in the back of their minds,” Campbell said. “They want to win for him.”
Perfect ending? Cedar Park is among a handful of Austin-area football teams that remain unbeaten heading into the final week of the regular season. The state’s top-ranked Class 5A team since early September, the Timberwolves (9-0) demolished East View 59-0 Saturday, holding the Patriots to 74 total yards, none rushing.
Among the area teams still unbeaten are Lake Travis in Class 6A, Giddings in 4A and Jarrell in 3A. Hyde Park also can stay unbeaten with a home victory Friday against San Antonio Holy Cross.
Did you know? McCallum needs to beat Cedar Creek on Friday to extend its streak of consecutive playoff appearances to 14. For its part, Cedar Creek — a fourth-year varsity program — hopes to qualify for the postseason for the first time.