With Campbell, it’s soup

Behind the speedy senior, Granite Bay lacrosse arrives
By: Robbie Enos/Roseville Press Tribune Correspondent
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Now a dominant program and a force to be reckoned with, Granite Bay High School lacrosse is on a roll. Its 18-2 win over Bella Vista on Friday night expanded its undefeated league record to 5-0 with an overall mark of 10-2.

At the forefront of the Grizzlies’ run is an athlete more known for how he uses his cleats than a stick. Senior Chris Campbell began his lacrosse career four years ago. He faced a decision of whether to play baseball or run track, but his good friend and now teammate Nik Reeves turned Campbell’s eyes to lacrosse.

Campbell has run with the decision. He scored five goals against Bella Vista despite playing only a few minutes in the second half, when Granite Bay went to backups.

He leads the Sac-Joaquin Section with 31 goals, 11 more than No. 2 scorer Gavin Jeffries of Casa Roble.

“Having the speed that I do, I just pursued it,” Campbell said. “It’s actually been a really fun experience, just hanging with my new friends and everything.”

Head coach Scott Pink recognized Campbell as a talent who continues to develop, especially from last season to this year.

“Obviously, his speed is great, but it’s more than that,” Pink said. “It’s his instinct and his timing with his speed. Last year, he would just run, but this year, he’s developed a really good stick, so I think it’s a combination of his speed and the timing of his shot. He’s unstoppable.”

Campbell still feels football is his number one sport. Last fall, he was second on the team with 93 points, including 48 extra-point kicks, seven field goals and even four touchdowns.

“I’ve been kicking longer than I remember,” Campbell said. “But lacrosse is a really fun sport. It’s got a combination of football and soccer and all the other sports. That’s why I like it so much.”

For Pink and the Grizzlies, it’s now a matter of finishing strong after a quality start. Granite Bay has a one-game lead over Jesuit in the Sacramento Valley Lacrosse standings. The Grizzlies have five games remaining before postseason play.

“I like the synergy that we have,” Campbell said. “At the beginning of the season, we were losing it a little bit because we had more sophomores and juniors, and it was kind of fluctuating. But right now, we are the strongest that we’ve ever been. I don’t think there’s a team in the Sacramento area that we can’t beat.”

Granite Bay’s program was created by students and started as a club team. Pink started the youth programs in Granite Bay before taking over as head coach of the Grizzlies. His first year with the team, five years ago, would be its final year as a club sport.

Pink grew up in Long Island and played lacrosse at Harvard University. He has 40 years of experience in the sport. Pink pointed out defense as the main strength of this team, an obvious trademark in the Bella Vista game. Granite Bay’s defense kept possession on the Grizzlies’ side for the majority of the game.

“It starts with defense,” he said. “Our defense is very solid – very technically sound with good athletes. Team speed is another strength. We are very fast. The third thing that I’ve seen develop is, the attitude and character of the team is very high.”

Moving forward, Pink believes a strong work ethic would put the Grizzlies on top in league and the playoffs.

“It’s just hard work,” he said. “It’s about getting these guys more exposure to the high level of lacrosse. I think we are on our way.”