COVINGTON, Ga. — Less than 30 seconds were left on the Sharp Stadium scoreboard clock, which meant there were less than 30 seconds remaining in Eastside’s historic 2018 football season.
Also, less than half a minute remained in senior running back, Taylor Carter’s high school football career.
Standing at 5-foot-8 and about 180 pounds, anyone who’s paid attention this year has seen Carter morph into, not only a dominant back, but an imposing leader.
Eastside coach Troy Hoff has often described him as a warrior — the guy who likes to work more than he likes to talk. And although Carter still can’t be mistaken for a quote machine or chatterbox, as the season went on, it’s unmistakable how much more of a vocal leader he’s became.
Carter had the chance to make one last statement on the Sharp Stadium turf when he took the direct snap in shotgun formation, and powered his way into the end zone for the final touchdown of the season — his and Eastside’s.
By the time he handed the ball to the official and jogged off the field, there were 27.1 seconds left in his high school career, as No. 1 Blessed Trinity was on its way to a 42-15 win in a thoroughly dominating performance over Carter and his fourth-ranked Eagles.
So the touchdown run meant nothing as far has playoff implications or extending the season for another week, but it seemed to be the appropriate punctuation mark to close out the final sentence in Carter’s final high school chapter.
It was a period, not an exclamation point. And that, too, seemed fitting as to the kind of player and stalwart personality Carter is and had become. Decisive. Not flashy. Not overly excited, but as straight and to the point as one of his patented stiff arms he’d grown accustomed to throwing at defenders down the stretch of the season.
He’s a throwback who helped push forward arguably one of the more unlikely Eastside football teams you’d expect to make this kind of a run to historic proportions.
After Friday night’s game we wasted no time in pulling Carter aside and choppin’ it up with him one last time before the Friday night lights were turned off for 2018.
CovNewsSports: Obviously, tonight didn’t go the way you’d hoped, but how would you describe this special season and the impact it’s left on you and the team?
Taylor Carter: “It was a good year. I mean, it was a good effort by every single person on our team. I mean the outcome, it usually came out like we wanted it to, but (Friday night), we didn’t expect to lose or for it to go this way, but it is what it is. I’d still call it a good season all around.”
CNS: At what point did you start to think that you guys were poised to have this kind of season?
TC: “Coming into the summer camps. I mean, this is the first year I’ve actually played against good teams, better teams than what’s in our region and classification during those camps. I came out of it feeling good about who we were and how we played against other teams that were bigger or faster, so it was just a lot going on there that made us really like what we saw from ourselves.”
CNS: How did you see yourself improve as a player this year?
TC: “I can say I worked harder than ever this season, especially playing just one position this year. You know, I played on both sides of the ball last year. But I feel I became a better team player and just a better brother to my guys all around. I think I was able to show more love and more character as I tried to lead them in a different way. And that’s something I can say because I actually feel that way and have seen that growth for myself.”
CNS: Finally, as you take your exit as an Eastside Eagles football player, what kind of message would you want to leave behind to those younger guys coming up behind you?
TC: “The reason for the fight is the love. That’s something coaches tell us. We don’t ever worry about our size or what other players are coming onto the team year in and year out, because us being Little Ol’ Eastside, we just fight for love and out of love, for the game and just each other. And that’s really all we can do.”