Nothing has come particularly easy to the Campolindo High School football team this season.

At least not until it made the North Coast Section 2A East Bay playoffs.

After battling through a series of injuries, including a season-ending one to their senior starting quarterback, the Cougars have found stability and are flourishing behind a sophomore quarterback and an opportunistic defense.

Getting into the playoffs as the No. 7 seed, Campolindo (9-3) since has taken down No. 2 Heritage and No. 3 Encinal. And tonight it travels to No. 1 Las Lomas (12-0), where an upset would give the Cougars their first NCS title since 1986.

"The best way to describe our team right now is that we kind of just think of ourselves as a bunch of nobodies just hanging around," Cougars coach Kevin Macy said Wednesday. "We're just sort of enjoying the experience."

For Tommy Stephens, the experience is one that he probably didn't expect in late October when he was called up from the junior varsity to serve as the backup quarterback after senior Scott Scharff suffered a season-ending knee injury.

But it's an experience that may not have happened to the Cougars without the sophomore.

Stephens made his first start Nov. 2 against Las Lomas. The heavily favored Knights won 20-13, but not before Stephens threw for 271 yards and scored his first varsity touchdown on a 2-yard run.

"He's definitely going to be something special down the road," Macy said of Stephens. "He's got all the tools and hasn't been too flustered since he got on varsity.


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Still, he's a sophomore going into a championship game."

Stephens is trying not to look at it that way.

"I've been playing quarterback since I started playing football," he said. "I try to not make it too big of a deal. I just go and play. All the guys have been really great accepting me, and now I'm just playing."

In two playoff games, Stephens is 21-for-34 for 269 yards and four touchdowns. His only interceptions this season came in that first start against Las Lomas.

"We think we're a much different team now (than in the first game against Las Lomas)," Stephens said. "We feel that we have a good shot, but really we're just playing and having a good time."

Contact Chace Bryson at cbryson@bayareanewsgroup.com.