The worst-case scenario has come to fruition for the Saint Francis Cougars.
Junior running back Antoin Campbell, who set a school record for rushing yards in a season last year and ran for 394 yards in the first three games this year, is out for the season with a knee injury.
An MRI this morning revealed that Campbell tore his ACL in the first quarter of the Cougars’ 23-7 loss Saturday to then No. 7 Grand View inDes Moines,Iowa.
“Yeah, he’s out for the rest of the season,” head coach Kevin Donley confirmed. “Their docs out there looked at him and said it was an MCL strain, so we were optimistic. But it was an ACL tear.”
Campbell’s loss is a major blow to a Saint Francis offense that has averaged 25.3 points and 443.3 yards per game so far this season. Campbell’s contribution was a 29-carry, 188-yard, two-touchdown day in the Cougars’ season opening win at William Penn, and a 37-carry, 190-yard, four-touchdown night in a 38-37 win over Saint Ambrose two weeks ago.
The 37 carries and the 190 yards were both career highs.
Against Grand View,Campbellran for 16 yards on five carries before going down on the game’s second series. Not long thereafter, quarterback Josh Miller departed after injuring the ankle that was a chronic issue for him all last season.
That double blow was alleviated somewhat when Miller returned to practice this week. So far this season, he’s completed 44 of 67 passes for 402 yards and two touchdowns, while not throwing an interception.
Against Saint Ambrose, he completed 25 of 37 passes for 412 yards and one touchdown. The 412 yards were the most in a game for a Saint Francis quarterback in a decade.
Campbell, meanwhile, ran for 1,245 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. In 26 career games, he’s rushed for 2,326 yards and 23 touchdowns.
“As coaches we just feel so bad for him,” Donley said. “He’s such a neat kid. He broke down when he got the news but then right away he was saying, ‘What can I do now?’.”
Donley said junior running back Garrett Harvey will over at No. 1 with freshman Aaron Harrisslotted at No. 2 and freshman Jason Nicodemus, a Churubusco graduate, in the rotation.
“We’ll probably do it by committee. Nicodemus is kind of a young version of Taylor Vieck and Harris kind of reminds me of (Corey) Jacquay,” Donley said in a statement. “They’re young, but I told them they are gonna have to start shavin’ soon. First two wins, we really put the ball inCampbell’s hands and now we’re gonna have to be a little more creative.”
The Cougars, who dropped from No. 2 to No. 6 this week in the NAIA poll, face their fourth straight top 25 team this week when they travel to No. 25 Siena Heights in the Mid-States Football Association Mideast League opener for both teams. It marks the first time in the 16-year history of the Saint Francis program that the Cougars have opened against four straight top 25 teams.