Edgewater’s Chase Carter and Lake Brantley’s Braxton Woodson aren’t exactly getting their doors knocked down by college recruiters. However, it is normal for two defenders.
They don’t care about college recruiters. They are much more concerned with leading their teams to a state title. The way they’re playing now, it’s certainly not out of the question. Edgewater plays in Class 3A-Metro, while Brantley plays in Class 4A-Metro.
Carter has led Edgewater to a 4-0 record since Friday, and while he doesn’t have flashy numbers, the leadership is clear. Sure, the Eagles have Cedric Baxter scoring most of the touchdowns, but Carter is the main cog that keeps the gears turning.
“Obviously being a quarterback is a big deal,” Carter laughed. “The team uses my energy, so whether it’s a good game or a bad game, it’s all about having a good attitude and winning spirit.”
He makes sure the players are lined up the way they should be on every play, especially on the offensive line. The Eagles have so many new pieces this season that Carter will have to get everyone on the same page.
“I help just transfer calls and help people line up,” Carter said. “It’s a big part of our offense and I take pride in approaching it as a major aspect of the offense.”
He also plays football. Carter didn’t throw an interception in 50 attempts, and he rushed for more yards than he threw. He is the team’s second-leading tackler and has only lost two fumbles in four games.
His confidence rose to another level. Maybe because it’s his team this year. Last season, he split duties with senior Tyler Wesley, who transferred 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 carried over into this. So it’s not surprising that the leadership is good and we all have a good team spirit.”
His coach, Cameron Duke, was instrumental in his growth.
“Coach Duke and I had a really good talk about both football and real life,” Carter said. “It helps me on and off the field, and it helps me on the team as a leader, to be a good friend and a good teammate.”
Carter, who has a 4.0 GPA (4.9 weighted), is looking at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh or Davidson College (NC). Since his recruitment was slow, he decided to check out some academic institutions that showed interest.
Woodson, who was similarly recruited or drafted as an option quarterback, running back or receiver because of his speed and athleticism, has verbally committed to play for Navy. He wants to play defender, his true love. The Navy’s promise, however, will hang in the balance if anything else comes along. All commitments at this time are non-binding prior to the start of the signing period in December.
Woodson is also a true leader and will take over a game whenever he sees fit.
“I feel pretty good about it, and so does the coach [Skip Clayton] really helped me in this role,” he said. “He pushed me into the role and helped me with things like leadership. … I feel like I’ve stepped into that role pretty well, and it’s all about helping my team and getting us where we want to go.”
This is Woodson’s second season as Brantley’s starting quarterback, and he has taken over the Patriots’ triple option. Brantley is off to a 3-1 start, with the loss coming in its first when it squandered a 21-6 halftime lead against Oviedo in a 26-21 loss.
Woodson’s biggest game as Brantley’s leader came Saturday against rival Lake Mary. Trailing 21-14, he led his team on a 94-yard drive that seemed unlikely at the time. But Brantley had Woodson, who ran more than 60 yards on the game-winning drive to pull Brantley up 21-20 with just over three minutes left.
It was decision time, but it was simple. The Pats were looking for the two-point conversion and the win.
After a pair of timeouts, Woodson made a snap and looped the ball around the right wing to give Brantley a 22-21 victory.
“I kind of realized that if I don’t do it, it doesn’t get done,” Woodson said of the game-winning drive. “I had to step up to that role … and just be that guy in the moment and help lead my team to a win.”
Being a second-year starter has done wonders for Woodson’s game.
“Oh, that helped me a lot. Last year, I don’t think I was as confident as I could have been,” he said. “I wasn’t sure how I was going to play this game, but this year with the help of Coach Skip, I’m more confident about playing my best.”
It’s easy to see why recruiters would label Woodson as a running back or two-way back. He kept saying he wanted to play quarterback, and that’s why he went to Navy. He was offered by all service academies and has a 3.8 GPA.
“It doesn’t bother me that they think I’m a running back because that’s all they see in the files,” Woodson said of his team’s triple-option offense. and I can definitely throw the ball as well as anyone else out there.”
He leads the Patriots in rushing with 499 yards and 9 touchdowns on 51 carries. He threw just 33 times for 220 yards, but didn’t throw a single interception and lost just one fumble.
“Most schools are recruiting me as a dual-threat linebacker,” he said, “and I’m just focused on playing quarterback.”
It looks like this couple is on the low end together, but things could turn around.
At this point, it’s “state championship or bust.” If they pull off the feat, there will be plenty of attention headed their way.
This article originally appeared on OrlandoSentinel.com. Chris Hayes covers high school football, college football recruiting, the NFL and the Orlando Magic for the Sentinel. It can be reached at the address CHays@orlandosentinel.com or on Twitter @OS_ChrisHays.