Westlake football coach Mark Campo meets with his team last
week. Campo takes over the Demons after leading the Admiral
King program the past five seasons. (West Life photo by Larry
to lead Demon gridders
By Jim Horvath
Published June 17, 2009
Westlake football program has its new leader.
Last Thursday, the Westlake Board of Education approved
the appointment of Mark Campo as the Demons’ new head coach. He
replaces Mark Hollars, who resigned last month to take a teaching
and head football coaching position at St. Marys Memorial High School
in western Ohio.
Campo was the head football coach at Admiral King
High School in Lorain the past five seasons. A former physical education
teacher in the Lorain City Schools, Campo has been a guidance counselor
with Lorain Middle School and Admiral King.
He will assume a guidance role at Westlake and run
the Occupational Work Experience program at the high school. He
met with his new team early last week.
“Coach Campo impressed the committee from the very
first interview during the selection process,” said Westlake athletic
director Dennis Bartlett, who said there were over 60 applicants
for the position.
“Coach Campo is a man of high character, has a strong
track record and truly cares about kids,” said Bartlett. “We believe
he will be a great fit here at Westlake.
Campo, a 1980 graduate of Admiral King, earned his
undergraduate and graduate degrees from John Carroll University.
He also completed the Registered Nurse program at Lorain County
Prior to his teaching and football coaching career,
Campo was an RN with Lorain Community Hospital and Elyria Memorial
On the gridiron, Campo brings 18 years of coaching
experience to Westlake. He was an assistant varsity coach and junior
varsity coach at John Carroll before going back to his alma mater.
He took over a program that had fallen on hard times, and his first
team at Admiral King went 0-10.
Campo, however, eventually turned the program around
and made it competitive in the Lake Erie League. Last season, the
Admirals went 7-3 overall and 3-1 in the league, good for second
place in the league’s Erie Division. Two of the team’s three losses
were by one point.
Overall, Campo’s team went 20-29 over those five seasons.
He faces a new challenge at Westlake, taking over a program that
went 2-8 overall and finished winless in the Southwestern Conference.
“Everything here is in place to have a successful
program,” said Campo last Saturday afternoon. “We have the players,
we have the facilities. There’s no reason it shouldn’t happen here.
“My primary concern is that the student athletes here
have opportunities after high school, that we win conference championships
and that we compete in the state playoffs,” said Campo. “We want
to build a football program based on character, work ethic and tradition.”
Campo said he was impressed with Westlake’s academic
excellence as a school system, along with the community support.
He felt those would be factors as well in turning around a program
that has gone through several head coaches over the past decade.
How was his first meeting with the players?
“It was good. Refreshing,” said Campo. “They seem
like a great group of kids. I met with the seniors, because after
all it’s their team this year. Most of the kids came up to me and
shook my hand.
“Number one, I told them that I wasn’t going anywhere,”
he said, referring to the number of past coaching changes. “This
is not a stepping stone job for me. I’m from the area, my family
is here, this is my home. I want to be here, and I’m not moving.
“It’s going to be one of two things. I’m going to
be here, and we’re going to get the job done, or they’re not going
to want me to be here anymore,” he said.
Campo said he wanted to build the Demon program from
the ground up. He noted that a number of the program’s younger squads
have had success over recent years.
“You win with players,” he said. “Most coaches at
this level know the x’s and o’s and can hold their own. The main
difference is the players. They’ve won here at the junior high level.
Now we have to take that success and make it grow.
“It starts with the elementary school program, the
middle school program. You grow it from the bottom up so that there
is consistency from year to year. And in doing that, you form relationships
with the kids from the elementary level on up. You get them passionate
about the game of football.
“Once you do that, you can be competitive in the SWC,
year in and year out. We want to get kids excited about Westlake
football,” he said.
Campo said that will start with the example he and
his coaching staff sets.
“We’re going to work hard and demand a lot, and the
players will eventually understand what we’re talking about by our
actions,” said Campo. “Everything we do will be for them. We’re
going to work our tails off to make them better, and before long
they’ll realize I mean what I say.”
Campo said getting the team competitive in the SWC
would mean getting stronger in the off-season.
“The league I’m coming from (Lake Erie) had some very
athletic kids,” said Campo. “They were able to do some things that
would make you turn around and scratch your head. The SWC is a more
physical league, more smash-mouth.
“There is some finesse, but most of the teams grind
it out. You have teams like Avon Lake and Olmsted Falls, Brecksville,
North Olmsted, Amherst. Berea and Midpark are getting better each
year. Getting physically stronger will be key for us in order to
compete. We’ll have to be stronger, and just as physical.”
Campo’s nursing career came after he initially couldn’t
find a job in the teaching profession. He said he was able to take
something from that occupation when he finally got his opportunity
to coach and teach.
“I learned how to treat people and how to talk to
them,” he said. “Really, it’s the same in whatever you do. That’s
how you bring people together, accomplish goals and make things
“Bottom line, you try to do the right thing. I want
the players and parents to know I’m excited to be at Westlake and
look forward to meeting them and working with them. We want to make
some good things happen here,” he concluded.