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X Factor

Campbell Latest Westlake Receiver on Spot

June 20, 1998|TRIS WYKES | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WESTLAKE VILLAGE — Like tailbacks at Nebraska and quarterbacks at Notre Dame, wide receivers at Westlake High are expected to produce at critical times.

For the Warriors, the top target in their pass-oriented offense is designated the "X" receiver. Five of the last nine Westlake players at the position were selected to the All-Southern Section team encompassing all divisions.

Now Travis Campbell steps into the spotlight.

Following in the footsteps of celebrated Warrior receivers such as Joey Cuppari and Billy Miller, Campbell, who begins his senior year in the fall, embraces his role as go-to guy.

"I want to keep the tradition going and be like a Billy or Joey," said Campbell, one of the top players in the 20-team Hart High passing tournament today. "But I'm going to have my ups and downs. I have to play to my potential and not try to be something I'm not."

Westlake's Jim Benkert said he hasn't coached a more competitive player than Campbell.

"He competes on every play, in every practice and every game," Benkert said. "He has great overall aggressiveness. He goes to the ball whether he's on offense or defense."

Campbell, 6 feet and 185 pounds, started at cornerback the last two seasons. Last season as a part-time receiver, he caught 57 passes for 838 yards and eight touchdowns, fifth among Southern Section receivers in the region.

A novice at running routes, he is not.

"He's not an unknown, but we expect a lot from him," Benkert said. "We're going to have to try and find a way to get him some rest because he's our best cover cornerback and he returns punts and kicks, too."

Campbell's strengths are his willingness to run routes over the middle and his aggressiveness in going after passes.

"The guy you're going against wants the ball just as badly, if not more, than you do," Campbell said. "If you wait for the ball, you'll get burned nine out of 10 times. Coming back to the ball gives you a step on your man and gives you room to put on a move and get upfield."

Campbell has a talented group of quarterbacks throwing to him, led by Zac Wasserman, who passed for 2,788 and 31 touchdowns as a sophomore last season.

"We expect Zac to play like a senior even though he's only a junior," Benkert said. "He did most of his learning last year and now we just have to build on some things with him. We expect him to take off from here."

Senior Beau Brannan, junior Scott Benkert--the coach's nephew--and sophomore Corey Miles also play quarterback.

The 6-foot, 190-pound Miles is touted as a "superstar in the making" by Jim Benkert.

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