Campbell set to return for Garces at Holy Bowl

After being diagnosed with Valley Fever early in August, Garces senior quarterback Joseph Campbell will be cleared for full-contact action in time for The Holy Bowl at Fresno-San Joaquin Memorial on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.

Campbell, a returning starter from the previous two seasons, returns to the field after missing the first two games of the season.

“I am really excited to play,” Campbell said. 

The initial time period for his return was unknown through fall camp and into the first two weeks of the season when the Rams lost to Bakersfield Christian and Santa Maria-St. Joseph.

Campbell said he feels he is ready to compete once again after getting the go-ahead from two family doctors.

Campbell has been able to go through non-contact drills this week before being cleared for live-action this weekend for the first time this season.

“It’s been good,” Campbell said of the first week back. “I’ve just been working on getting back into the offense and learning everyone’s habits again.”

Garces first-year coach Paul Golla knows the importance of having a three-year starter like Campbell, who threw for 1,904 yards in 2018, back in the fold

“He’s vital to the camaraderie. His leadership, to me, was off-the-charts when he wasn’t playing,” Golla said. “He has been on the sidelines giving other guys water and coaching them up. Now he gets a chance to get back on the field. We expect great things.”

But there is a level of uncertainty for the coaching staff after such a long time away from game-time situations.

“We don’t know what to expect right away because he hasn’t played in such a long time,” Golla said. “I think this is a great opportunity and we are going to get better and better from here.”

Campbell has been cleared by multiple doctors to allow him to play again for the Rams this weekend, according to Golla, who understands fully the importance of being diligent with an illness like Valley Fever. 

“It’s not just one guy looking at him, it’s a couple,” Golla said. “The family is going to do what’s right for him to keep (Campbell) safe and monitor the situation. Joe looks healthy. He’s running around and lifting weights. We are excited about his comeback.”