Edgewater’s Chase Carter and Lake Brantley’s Braxton Woodson aren’t exactly getting their doors knocked down by college recruiters. For the two quarterbacks, however, that’s OK.
They aren’t concerned about college recruiters. They are far more concerned about leading their teams to a state title. The way they are playing right now, it certainly does not sound out of the question. Edgewater plays in the Class 3A-Metro class while Brantley is Class 4A-Metro.
Carter has led Edgewater to a 4-0 record entering Friday, and although he doesn’t have gaudy numbers, the leadership is obvious. Sure, the Eagles have all-everything running back Cedric Baxter to score most of the touchdowns, but Carter is the main cog that keeps the gears spinning.
“Obviously, being the quarterback is pretty important,” Carter laughed. “The team plays off my energy, so playing good or playing bad, either way, it’s all about having a good attitude towards it and having that winning spirit.”
He makes sure the players are lined up the way they are supposed to be on every play, especially the offensive line. The Eagles has so many new sets this season that Carter has to get everyone on the same page.
“I’m helping with just relaying the calls and helping people get lined up,” Carter said. “That’s a big part of our offense and I’ve taken pride in approaching that as a main aspect in the offense.”
He also takes care of the football. Carter has not thrown an interception in 50 attempts, and he has rushed for more yards than he’s thrown. He’s the team’s second-leading rusher and he has lost just two fumbles in the four games.
His confidence has risen to a different level. It might be because this year it’s his team. Last season he shared duties with senior Tyler Wesley, a transfer from Tohopekaliga.
“I don’t feel like I’ve played my best this year,” Carter said. “But as a leader and my role on the team, I feel like the friendships I’ve built over the four years have culminated into this. So, it’s not a surprise that the leadership is good and we all have good team spirit.”
His coach Cameron Duke has been instrumental in his growth.
“Me and Coach Duke have really good talks, both about football and just real life,” Carter said. “That helps me on and off the field and it helps me on the team as a leader, to be a good friend and good teammate.”
Carter, who carries a 4.0 GPA (4.9 weighted), is looking at Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh or Davidson (N.C.) College. Since his recruiting has gone slow, he decided to look into some academic institutions that have shown interest.
Woodson, who has been similarly recruited or recruited as an option quarterback, running back or receiver because of his speed and athletic ability, has verbally committed to play for Navy. He wants to play quarterback, his true love. The pledge to Navy, however, hangs in the balance should something else come along. All committments at this point are non-binding until the early signing period in December.
Woodson also is a true leader and he will take over a game whenever he considers it’s necessary.
“I feel pretty good about it, and coach [Skip Clayton] has really helped me in this role,” he said. “He pushed me to be in this role and helped me with things like leadership. … I feel I’ve stepped into that role pretty well and it’s all to help my team and get us to where we want to go.”
It’s Woodson’s second season as Brantley’s starting quarterback and he has taken charge of the Patriots’ triple option. Brantley is off to a 3-1 start, with the loss coming in the opener when it squandered a 21-6 halftime lead against Oviedo and lost 26-21.
Woodson’s biggest game as the Brantley leader came Saturday against rival Lake Mary. Trailing 21-14, he took his team on a 94-yard drive that looked unlikely at the time. But Brantley had Woodson, who ran for 60-plus yards on the game-winning drive to bring Brantley to within 21-20 with just over three minutes left.
It was decision time, but it was a no-brainer. The Pats were going for the two-point conversion and the victory.
After a pair of timeouts, Woodson took the snap and carried the ball around the right end to give Brantley the winning margin 22-21.
“I kind of realized that if I didn’t do it, then it wasn’t going to get done,” Woodson said of the game-winning drive. “I had to step up to that role … and just kind of be that guy in the moment and help lead my team to the victory.”
Being a second-year starter has done wonders for Woodson’s game.
“Oh, it’s helped me a lot. Last year I don’t think I was as confident as I could have been,” he said. “I wasn’t as sure of myself playing in the game, but this year, with the help of Coach Skip, I’ve been more confident in playing to the best of my abilities.”
It’s easy to understand why recruiters label Woodson as a running or dual-threat quarterback. He has said all along that he wants to play quarterback and that’s why he headed to Navy. He was offered by all service academies and carries a 3.8 GPA.
“It doesn’t bother me that they consider me a runner because that’s all they see on file,” Woodson said of his team’s triple-option offense, “But when I’m given the chance and the opportunity, I feel that I am a quarterback and I can definitely throw the ball as well as anybody out there.”
He leads the Patriots in rushing with 499 yards and 9 touchdowns on 51 carries. He has thrown the ball just 33 times for 220 yards but has no interceptions and has lost only one fumble.
“Most schools are recruiting me as a dual-threat quarterback,” he said, “and I’m just focused on playing quarterback.”
Together, the pair seem to be getting the short end of the recruiting stick, but things could turn around.
For now its “State Championship or Bust.” If they pull off that feat, plenty of attention will come their way.
This article originally appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Chris Hays covers high school football, college football recruiting, the NFL and the Orlando Magic for the Sentinel. He can be reached at CHays@orlandosentinel.com or on Twitter @OS_ChrisHays.