Campbell

Indy quarterback Jaxson Campbell really can do everything, can't he? 

Late into Independence's home stand against Hendersonville, the Commandos scored a late touchdown - it wouldn't count for much in terms of winning with a double-digit deficit in Indy's favor with a half minute to go, but usually in that situation, you go for the onside kick regardless. 

Hendersonville was attempting its second onside kick in a matter of plays. 

Indy had failed to convert on the Commandos' first onside kick just a few minutes before, so if only for pride's sake alone, it'd be good to grab this one. 

Hendersonville attempted the pooch kick into the neutral zone, and an Indy player quickly hopping on it to fully secure the team's fourth victory of 2020. 

That player? Campbell, the team's electric starting quarterback, new to the position, and among the best football players in Williamson County and the midstate at large this season. 

Campbell had four touchdowns (12/21, 184 yards in the air, two TDs; 153 yards rushing on 11 carries for two TDs on the ground) in the team's 34-23 victory Friday at IHS. 

"To help my team, I'll do whatever," Campbell said of his role on the hands team Friday night. "If that means recovering an onside kick, so be it.

"We didn't get the first [onside kick], so I was ticked. We actually had the ball. I don't know how they gave it to Hendersonville, but it is what it is." 

Campbell has been simply electric in his five games under center for Indy. In his first at-bat, he engaged in a quarterback duel with Destin Wade of Summit, perhaps the best quarterback in Middle Tennessee and bound for Power 5 football when he graduates. 

"In the first game, to be honest," Campbell said of when he knew he could hold his own at the position. "It comes with work. We worked as a team. [Coach Scott] Blade put me in a great system, and I'm excited. We can really go far this year." 

Campbell is a former receiver for Indy who earned region honors last fall for his pass-catching abilities, and he transitioned into the signal caller spot after big-armed QB Ethan Cash graduated this offseason. 

After the move, it's been smooth sailing for the quarterback who has Indy squarely contending for the region title against Brentwood and Ravenwood.  

"Really, I've got to thank my teammates," Campbell said of his newfound success. "Right in the offseason when I knew I was going to be the guy, we got together. We worked all offseason, and we're reaping what we're sowing, so I'm excited." 

Blade attributes Campbell's quick success to his football acumen. 

"He's got a high football IQ," Blade said. "That's the best thing. He really understands what we're trying to get done. He understands what it takes. We're still trying to get better, and he's getting better and more comfortable. But his football IQ is really good. 

"It's like having a coach out there on the field." 

The Eagles got off to a fast 14-0 lead Friday night, with Campbell hitting Tyler Kondra (two catches, 26 yards) for a touchdown and rushing in his first by the midway point of the first quarter. 

Hendersonville tacked on a field goal late in the first, but after a relatively quiet second, Campbell and Indy drove down and the QB found Calvin Wilson (two catches, 44 yards) for a score to get a 21-3 advantage at half. 

After the break, the Commandos rattled off a long drive and scored to make it 21-10 halfway through the third, but Campbell's legs drove Indy right back down the field. He popped it in from short with 2:39 to go in the third to make it 28-10 Indy. 

The Eagles kept rolling in the fourth, draining the clock and even converting a 4th and 27 (with Ty Lockwood, who had six catches for 97 yards, reeling in a laser pass from Campbell to move the sticks) and capping that drive with a Tre Hartwell (42 yards) touchdown. 

The Commandos scored two scores late into the game to flatten the margin, but it'd be too little, too late, as Indy defended home turf and now moves on to play Brentwood next Friday at BHS in a crucial region contest. 

"Take it day by day," Blade said of his team's strong 2020, which sees them now at 4-1 and a clear challenger for the region. "We've got a lot to improve on there. We didn't quite close out that game like we'd liked...we're getting better, played a good schedule right now.

"We know that it gets tougher and tougher moving ahead, especially next week, playing Brentwood. So, proud to be where we're at, getting after it one more week, hopefully. You just never know. You take it day by day." 

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