It was not just that his Rogers team had suffered a 35-12 loss to a fellow City League foe. Mostly, it was the fact that the four-star cornerback and Ohio State verbal commitment was forced to watch from the sidelines after having suffered a knee injury two weeks earlier. After suffering a partial tear of the meniscus in his left knee, he was expected to miss more than a month of action.
But assuming a second doctor clears him tomorrow, Gambrell will be in action this weekend – a full week earlier than the initial prognosis. For that, he credited his mental approach to the injury.
"It was just the motivation I had to get back on the field and help my (football) family," he told BuckeyeSports.com. "I went to therapy for one day and it was pointless. I was riding a bike for 18 minutes and then just ice. At that time I was already running on it outside but they had me riding a bike. It was pointless, so I kept running and training a little bit myself and then when I went in the doctor said I'll be cleared next week."
According to Rogers head coach Rick Rios, the news could not have come at a better time.
"I think everybody has been very supportive of him, letting him know we don't want him rushing into anything and tried to be patient for when he's ready to come back," the coach said. "But at the same time, I've seen a little bit of the attitude as far as just having a frown and a disappointment about him right now."
Said Gambrell: "When I first got the news I was very excited to get back on the field and help my team. We're on a three-game losing streak. Now I can get back in and hopefully turn that around."
The recovery has come about despite Gambrell's refusal to take part in the prescribed rehabilitation. The injury required no surgery, but the 6-2, 180-pound cornerback had no patience for therapy.
"I think he just got fed up with riding on a bicycle all the time and said, ‘Coach, I feel fine. I need to have this doctor check it again and clear me,' " Rios said. "We've been pushing on him to go to therapy but after about a week I'm not sure therapy cooperated with him. I think it frustrated him more than anything."
Without Gambrell, the Rams dropped three straight before rebounding with a 62-0 victory Oct. 1 against Toledo Woodward. The injury happened when he slammed the knee into the ground during a Sept. 4 road loss against Sylvania (Ohio) Southview.
Gambrell finished out the drive, but Rios said he quickly learned that his star would not be allowed to return to action for some time. Getting that message across to him was not an easy proposition.
"That was a thing where the night that he injured it the doctor told me right away that he can't come back," the coach said. "Two minutes later (he) is tugging at my shoulder going, ‘Hey coach, I'm ready to go.' Right then and there we made the call that no way were we going to jeopardize his future just because we want to win this ballgame."
Now in his second straight season as a team captain, Gambrell has been earning that title from the sidelines this season.
"It really comes out on Friday nights, seeing him on the sidelines coaching people up and getting in their ears," the coach said. "I think he's done a great job on Friday. I think where it's really tough for him has been the Monday through Thursday ordeal where he can't practice with us.
"I think it's been more frustrating for the team than for him even though as disappointed as he's been that he can not help the team, you can see at times where the team is looking for one of the leaders that is not there."
With his team sitting at 2-3 overall, Gambrell said he has big goals for the remaining four games.
"We've got to finish the season out strong," he said. "I want to be 4-0 and lead the team. We've got to get back on track."