Wonders' QB excels on, off field

When Martel Campbell does something, he always wants to be the best he can be.

Campbell, who has led the Wonders to a 20-4 record as the team's starting quarterback, has also dominated in the classroom, getting straight As since he stepped on campus, to accumulate a 4.5 grade point average.

"I have always expected a lot out of myself, whether you are talking about football or being a student," said Campbell. "Trying to live up to those expectations has made a better player, but it is definitely something I have had to work at it."

Campbell, who stands 6-foot-2, and weighs 210 pounds, knew expectations would be high going into the season, as the Wonders returned a veteran team that has won at least a share of the last three South Piedmont Conference titles.

The Wonders, under head coach Ron Massey, also have averaged nearly 11 wins for the past 10 seasons.

This year, Campbell and his team have not disappointed, as A.L. Brown is 9-1 and No. 7 in the 3A state poll.

A big part of that success has been because of Campbell.

"Campbell is an extremely bright young man, who understands the system, and what he can and can't do," said Massey. "It's always a luxury to have a senior quarterback, who has been there, done that. Campbell definitely gives us an advantage and makes it easier for me to sleep at night."

Campbell and company got a wakeup call in the first game of the season when all-state running back Travis Riley, a UNC Chapel Hill commit who rushed for over 1,900 yards and 34 touchdowns last year, went down with a knee injury.

The Wonders knew the pressure would be on them to fill in for Riley and still live up to their football tradition.

"We all wanted to step up and be more effective this year because we knew the focus would be on Travis," said Campbell said. "His injury, just put more emphasis on that. We all had to step up our games."

Campbell, who worked hard in the weight room to get stronger and ran track in the spring for the first time to get faster, has been a big part of a balanced offensive attack, already rushing for more than 400 yards and three touchdowns, while passing for more than 800 yards and 12 more scores - both career bests.

Campbell has been just a part of the running machine, also featuring a trio of juniors in Demetrius Jackson (more than 600 rushing yards), Damien Washington (more than 500 yards) and Xavier Stanback (more than 400 yards) that has churned out more than 2,000 yards this season.

Campbell and the backfield could get Riley, who was going through full-contact practice last week for the first time, back this week.

While Campbell's focus is on the football field, he has also concentrated on his studies and his future. Campbell has interest from several schools for academics and athletics.

"Right now, I haven't decided anything," said Campbell. "But I have had some interest from Harvard. I think that would be a great place to go."

While Campbell is thinking about the future, for now he hopes to be at his best as A.L. Brown goes into the most important part of the season, first against archrival Concord on Friday, with 3A playoffs looming next week.

"There are always big expectations for the football team and a lot pressure comes with that," said Campbell, whose team hasn't won a state title since 1997 but was state runner-up in 2008. "But that is the way we want it to be. We hope to play our best football for the next month."