Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011 | 12:02 a.m.
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Las Vegas Sun sports reporters Ray Brewer and Case Keefer go over the high school football postseason picture and reflect on how it got to this point. The episode also contains a lengthy segment debating who is the Southeast Division MVP — Niko Kapeli, Kyle Keplinger, Aaron Love or Chris Marshall.
Sampson, the Wolves unquestioned team leader, didn’t hesitate telling teammates to seize the moment the rest of the postseason.
After all, it’s something he's been working for the past two years.
Sampson, who plays bigger than his 5-foot-5, 180-pound frame, has battled multiple knee injuries the last two years, but hasn’t let the setbacks derail his passion for the game. Fittingly, Sampson had two short touchdown runs in the first quarter Friday to give Basic a lead it would never relinquish.
It was Sampson’s first two touchdowns of the year.
“Being able to continue with these seniors and these juniors and these underclassmen gets me motivated,” he said. “That’s what keeps me going.”
Sampson suffered a season-ending injury in the first quarter of the first game last year and was forced to watch helplessly from the sideline as Basic missed the playoffs.
But he didn’t throw in the towel.
While the injury required no surgery, it took nearly six months of painful rehabilitation to strengthen the knee. He was typically one of the first to arrive in the school’s weight room during the offseason and never hesitated making sure teammates joined him.
“He is the ultimate team leader,” Basic coach Jeff Cahill said. “He is the guy in the summer dragging guys (to practice) and leading them through every drill.”
Sampson, however, reinjured the knee in the first game of this season, and faced the reality of having his career end prematurely. He just wouldn’t be denied in his last go-round in high school football, missing only one game with the injury and at times playing with pain while recovering. “It hurt to walk sometimes,” Sampson said.
He showed little signs of the injury against Canyon Springs, rushing eight times for 29 yards — receiving several carries late when Basic was running down the clock. While he’s not the most dynamic or valuable player on Basic’s offense, his contributions can’t only be measured in the box score.
“When he got hurt, he said: ‘Coach, I will be back. I will not have my senior season on the sideline,’” Cahill said.
Basic closed the game with 20 unanswered points in advancing to the Sunrise semifinals for the third time in four years. Quarterback Eddie Vega passed for 247 yards and three touchdowns, finding Darien Spencer for two touchdowns and DeVonte Boyd for the other.
“Everybody has confidence. We are going out there and putting everything on the line,” said Boyd, who finished with seven receptions for 175 yards.
Canyon Springs, the Northeast Division champion and No. 1 seed, was led by Donnel Pumphrey’s 175 rushing yards and two touchdowns. But, unlike past weeks, he was unable to take the game over.
That honor belonged to Vega and Boyd. And, of course, Sampson.
“If you have dreams, run hard and you will get whatever you want,” Sampson said.
Basic will travel to rival Foothill next week for the semifinals in of their Oct. 21 contest. Foothill erased a 21-point deficit and rallied late for the come-from-behind win, setting the stage for what should be a tightly contested playoff game.