Today, CFC shines the spotlight on class 2012 defensive star and recent Mount Allison University commit, Mark Sampson. Mark began his football career with the peewee Halifax Argos.
6’3, 185 lbs
Citadel Phoenix (high school: NSSAFFL)
Halifax Chargers (bantam)
Halifax Argos (peewee)
Team Nova Scotia under-15, under-17
Commitment to Mount Allison University
Mark has achieved major feats during the course of his football career. Over the span of three seasons with the Halifax Argos, the standout played defensive end, safety and tight end positions. The Argos were undefeated in two of those seasons and won two provincial and two Maritime championships. For his efforts on the field in his third season, Mark was team most improved player.
As a defensive end and tight end for the Halifax Chargers, the standout led the team to the provincial championship. The Chargers lost the title game to the Valley Bulldogs.
Representing the province has also been an integral part of Mark’s football career. Playing for the Nova Scotia under-15 team as a defensive halfback, the standout competed in New Brunswick. During his time with the under-17 provincial squad as a cornerback, Mark played in the Wilson Cup (Montreal). The team was victorious in both matches against Quebec squads.
However, Mark’s greatest gridiron achievements came with his high school team, the Citadel Phoenix of the Nova Scotia Student Athletic Federation Football League (NSSAFFL). As a strong side linebacker (safety in senior year), the defensive star contributed to the Phoenix’s success on the field while driven by the motivation to be on top of his game and become one of the league’s elite stars.
During the his years with the Phoenix, the team had three consecutive undefeated seasons en route to NSSAFFL Tier 1 championship crowns (2009-2011). The Phoenix standout had a monstrous campaign in the 2011 season, leading the way in team interceptions while gaining a reputation as one of the league’s top hitters.
The defensive star was honoured by the Phoenix and the NSSAFFL for his efforts over the course of his high school career. In 2010, Mark was the team’s most improved linebacker. This past season, the Phoenix star was league defensive MVP for the Nova Division and selected to the division’s first all-star team at the linebacker position.
As for the highlight of his football career thus far, it was this past season’s NSSAFFL Tier 1 championship game versus the Horton Griffins. Both teams came into the final tilt with undefeated records and never faced each other during the regular season.
“What made it more memorable is when captains were called and I saw that many of their (Horton) captains were the same kids we had played with and lost to in the provincial final back in bantam,” explains Mark, who amassed seven tackles and one sack in the win. “Our captains included myself, Max Fitzgerald, Bennett Gaskin, Derek Brown, Emile Milton; all of which I had played with since day one in peewee.”
“Their captains included Adam Melanson, so it seemed like a bit of a long awaited showdown, all seniors in high school, both undefeated, had played together before, it was the provincial championship, so it was pretty hype. Also, it being a four peat added to the hype.”
Mark will take his outstanding defensive talents over to Mount Allison University next season. Recently, he committed to school.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” adds the future Mounties player. “I think the undergraduate program was a key factor in my commitment there, as well as the football ethics and program they have there.”
“It’s a great community up there and I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”
Having his father as the main influence and motivator in football and life has made it possible for Mark to achieve all his goals.
“He got me into it at a very young age, and did whatever it took to keep me there and did whatever it took to help me succeed,” comments the defensive star. “He had played a lot of football himself as a kid, so without him I’m sure I never would have put on the helmet and shoulder pads.”
“He gave me a lot of key tips especially with tackling, which was the one thing I was always pretty decent at.”
Overall, hard work has been the key for Mark’s success in achieving all his gridiron and life goals.
“I was never very good at the game during my peewee and bantam years before high school, but I just stuck it out and kept training and kept learning,” says Mark. “I never thought one day I would be the NSSAFFL defensive MVP, going on to play CIS free safety.”
“It just goes to show if you love something, and you keep working toward it, there is no telling where you will end up.”
Phoenix co-head coach and defensive coordinator Jeff Lawley has instructed Mark for the past three seasons.
“Mark would rank extremely high on my all-time list of toughest players that I’ve coached,” comments the Phoenix co-head coach. “Over his three year span with Citadel, he did not miss one practice and in fact, I cannot recall him even sitting out a drill.”
“He’s physically tough, athletically gifted and has an excellent body size and frame to play university football.”
During his high school career with the Phoenix, Mark played a crucial role in the success of the defense.
“The hallmarks of success for the Citadel defense is an ability to create new looks in order to stop an opposing offense,” explains Lawley, who just completed his 22nd season with the Phoenix. “Mark provided our defense the ability to play many different roles.”
“His position is linebacker but there were times when he was required to line up as deep safety and in the championship game, there were some sets where he was required to be an extra defensive tackle. He played all positions required with great success and passion.”
Overall, Lawley believes that Mark will grow and develop into an elite defensive talent at the next level with the Mounties.
“Mark has great range and athleticism,” adds the Phoenix coach. “If he dedicates himself to the weight room, I believe he will be a standout player for the Mount Allison Mounties.”