Every once in a while, talent comes in the form of a 5-foot-10-inch, 190-pound center and outside linebacker who produces more power than anybody thought possible, keeping 200- and 300-pound defensive lineman from getting to his quarterback and shedding the blocks of those same men to get to their quarterback.
It is rare, but it happens.
For the Altus Bulldogs, that is No. 63 Kamron Canchola. For opposing teams, it is a long day on the football field.
Canchola never really thought he would be a football player, and his mother Cindee Speed’s earliest memory of him on the field was of him being disinterested in the sport.
“I remember Kamron not liking football very much,” Speed said. “We started him in flag football and he would sit at the practices and play his favorite toy trumpet. He eventually found out that he actually liked the game.”
It took putting the pads on and getting to knock his teammates around in practice before Canchola realized that football was going to be his sport of choice.
“I think when I was about 13 I decided that football was something I really wanted to pursue,” Canchola said. “Football has done a lot for me growing up. It has taught me self-discipline, hard work ethic, and how to pay attention to detail while also helping me grow into a better person because of the life lessons I have learned from my coaches, teammates and playing the game.”
But it was a game Canchola almost never got to play.
Kamron was born premature and was fighting for his life almost instantly. His mom was told by doctors that he would be sickly and small and at one point, he nearly lost his life to a seizure.
“But he has proven to us that he has a purpose,” Speed said. “From day one, he has been successful and he has fought hard for his success.”
That fight has produced an awesome high school career.
In his senior campaign, Canchola has been one of the players responsible for Altus’ stout defense, totalling 22 tackles through six games with nine of them coming for a loss to opposing offenses.
In addition, Canchola has sacked the quarterback five times.
He plays with heart and a passion unparalleled by many. He knows his size gives many people doubt about his performance.
“What I love most about playing center is that I am one of the smallest and sometimes overlooked,” Canchola said. “But I can hold my own. I am driven to succeed by my competitive nature. I refuse to lose and I always want to be the best at what I do. A lot of the things I do in life are competitions in my mind, and I don’t want to get beat.”
That drive was born in Alaska, where Canchola won his first championship in football.
“In Kam’s fourth-grade year, we noticed that he had heart for the game of football. His dad coached his little league team and they took state in Alaska,” Speed said. “He worked so hard that season to prove himself on the field and the outcome of winning the championship had a huge impact on his passion for football. His dad and the other coaches instilled in him that hard work pays off and he realized they were right. Ever since, Kam has given 100 percent in everything he does and I know it shows on and off the field.”
Since that first championship so long ago, Canchola has been hungry for more and was a key part of the Bulldogs when they beat Collinsville for the championship last season. It has become one of his favorite memories.
“Winning that state championship was one of the greatest things to have ever happened in my life and is still hard to believe,” Canchola said. “I look forward to doing it again this year.”
His mom — who he calls his biggest fan — gets excited every time he steps onto the field.
“Game nights have become even more stressful for me over the years because I never really understood football,” Speed said. “But now I love to watch my champ on that field. I love seeing Kam’s energy before, during, and after the game. Win or lose, he is always Kamron with a positive outlook.”
After high school, Canchola plans to go to college and get a degree in criminal justice where he will continue to lead by example, something he has done since birth.
“I hope he continues to be the strong, motivated, and disciplined person he has worked so hard to be,” Speed said. “I just know his purpose in life is going to be big and special and I hope no matter what he does, he is happy with his life and I hope he continues being an inspiration to everyone around him. Everything about Kam makes me proud and I am so excited to see what Kam will do next.”
Reach Ryan Lewis at 580-482-1221, ext. 2076.