After splitting the watch list for some of the most promising freshmen in the state into a separate post last week, this final installment of our annual all-state football series of posts includes our pick for most inspirational player of the year. We also have a look at year two of competitive equity seeding and how it impacted the all-state teams, a salute to quarterback Ryan Hilinski of Orange Lutheran, some of the players at Paradise plus additional notes and comments.
TO SEE LAST WEEK’S WATCH LIST OF TOP FRESHMEN PLAYERS IN THE CALIFORNIA FOR NEXT SEASON AND BEYOND, CLICK HERE.
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Most Inspirational Player of the Year:
Carson Campuzano (Trinity Classical, Valencia) Sr.
After two nightmarish years dealing with a knee injury in which various complications led to six surgeries, Carson came back to the game as a junior and was the Academy League Offensive Player of the Year as a senior.
Technically, Carson was a freshman with varsity experience at the small school in the Santa Clarita Valley, but in his third game suffered a torn meniscus in his right knee. The thought at the time after the initial surgery was that he might be able to be back in time for the 2016 baseball season.
“A week and a half later, the knee became infected,” said Carson’s father, Ray, a fireman with Los Angeles County. “They drained out an entire soda can size amount of stuff and then his white blood cell count was very low. He was in the hospital for six days on anti-biotics.”
“Even as the nurses and doctors reassured my mom, I was concerned when I heard her voice break as they discussed survival rates and statistics,” Carson wrote in an essay for a college application. “I was admitted to the hospital and stayed a week, and during that time I underwent two more surgeries in order to clean and repair further damage. The severity had been lost on me until the second day when medical staff became unable to manage my pain, and I writhed in uncontrolled misery for three days at which time the ‘pain team’ was called in and the dosages and medications were altered to give me some relief.”
The complications continued for several months and additional surgeries. After the fourth time, a procedure was done to use a meniscus ligament from a cadaver. Campuzano didn’t play sports for his entire sophomore year.
“He did go through a period where he had bouts of depression,” Ray Campuzano said. “All his buddies at the time were playing on a CIF playoff baseball team at Valencia.”
Last January, the knee was strained again when Carson was involved in a car accident not far from his home. He was driving, the car was totaled, but it obviously could have been much worse. The injury took place not from the accident but in getting out of the car.
With no further surgeries, Campuzano was primed to have a strong senior season and that’s what he did. In nine reported games for the 5-5 Knights, he caught 49 passes for 733 yards and nine touchdowns and he rushed for four scores. On defense, he had 74 tackles and two interceptions.
Campuzano isn’t done playing sports at Trinity Classical, either. He’s currently on the baseball team, which last season played in the CIF Southern Section Division 7 championship game and lost to Fillmore.