It’s so hard—to say goodbye: 5 huge losses to graduation

It’s always tough to say goodbye to someone that’s been a major contributor for your program. Heck–it’s hard to say adios to someone that’s been a major contributor in life–let alone football–so when you think about what these five players have meant to their respective programs, you can imagine why there would be some misty moments on the staffs’ and all those associated with these players in their daily lives when they hung those pads up for the last time in their school colors. Don’t get it twisted–we could literally go down EACH AND EVERY roster and find young men that gave everything they had to help win, but only five could be highlighted this go-around. Here now are five players that will leave some voids that cannot be replaced overnight.

Kyheem Campbell – Armwood
The 5-foot-11, 190-pounder played inside and outside backer for the Hawks and the past two seasons Campbell has posted gaudy stats to say the least. For his three-year career on varsity, Campbell’s totaled 226 tackles–13 for loss–19 sacks, an interception, three passes deflected, two fumble recoveries, seven caused fumbles and six blocked punts–that’s a massive contribution. We all know Armwood’s Defense will be scary good yet again next season, but it’s impossible to quantify–even though we just tried–what Campbell meant to that unit the past two seasons especially. The Hawks will have someone to try and fill those shoes next season, but rest assured Kyheem’s presence at the position will be sorely missed.

Trent Chmelik – Countryside
There are ton of options to choose from on the Cougars squad that could be mentioned, but the signal-caller has the highest value in our estimation and having to replace someone that’s been under center for the past three seasons providing that consistency that’s much needed is why we think that Chmelik’s such a tough player to replace right away. In the thirty games, Chmelik’s completed 59-percent of his passes for 4,546 yards and 35 touchdowns. He also added a dual-threat dimension with his running ability adding 13 touchdowns from the ground–that’s 4,831 total yards of offense–48 touchdowns–and a heaping-helping of leadership from one of the most–if not THE MOST important position on the field.

KJ Sails – East Bay
Before this season, Sails was already known for being one of the fiercest hitters from the safety position and known for producing big-time numbers from a position that’s tough to produce from at the high school level. This season, Sails added offense to his credentials and finished the season with 1,272 all-purpose yards from the running back position and in the specialist role as the kickoff/punt returner. The 5-foot-11, 170-pounder has produced 96 tackles, three interceptions, five passes deflected, four caused fumbles and five blocked field goals in twenty games on varsity for the Indians–but make no mistake about it–Sails’ magnetic personality and smile will be missed just as much as his hammerhead mentality on the field. He led by example and that’s something that cannot be coached in a young man–they’re either born with that approach or not.

Chris Schwarz – River Ridge
This one’s nearly a layup in terms of the importance, but here’s a refresher as to why Schwarz belongs on this list. The past two seasons Schwarz has rushed for 5,171 yards and 53 touchdowns for the Royal Knights helping the team reach heights it has never reached as a program. Most importantly–he carried the ball 745(!) times for River Ridge–making him a Ron Popeil Oven-special–aka “Set it and forget it”–Schwarz allowed his teammates to feel confident that if they did their job, he was going to do his–and do it above and beyond the call of duty. That mentality also allowed them to win games–and lost of them. Schwarz also added 122 tackles–14.5 for loss–a sack–9 passes deflected and three fumble recoveries on defense from the linebacker position during his time on varsity.

DeShawn Smith – Nature Coast Tech
Another layup–but in case you’ve been hiding under a rock this season–the 5-foot-8, 185-pounder was absolutely unstoppable for the Sharks–helping them accomplish their best record in school history while also breaking school and county all-time records in his path. The Class 5A Player of the Year statewide finished his career with 5,998 yards and 83 touchdowns–averaging 285 yards per contest this season alone–he also caught 27 passes for 485 and six touchdowns when not rushing for a bajillion yards–oh yeah–Smith also returned kicks in his time on varsity totaling 692 yards in that category–and then?–he also added 113 tackles, two sacks, three interceptions, 15 passes deflected, two fumble recoveries, two caused fumbles and two blocked field goals on defense from the cornerback position.