Lawson Carter has occasionally voiced a most unusual request this season to Polk County head football coach Dustin Fry.
“I think he gets excited because I’m not scared to run him a bit,” Fry said. “He likes that. He’s actually like, I need to get hit. I need to get hit.
“Easy there, Bubba. Let’s slow down a bit. It is nice to know that he’s not scared of running the ball.”
Carter’s thoughts on Fry’s playcalling may be a bit out of the ordinary, but so is his journey to Polk County’s starting quarterback spot entering Friday’s non-conference game at West Henderson. The senior last played quarterback as a freshman, making his first pass in the season opener against Madison the first toss of his varsity career.
Through the Wolverines’ first two games, though, Carter has ably handled his new role. He’s completed nearly 75 percent of his attempts (29-of-39) and has thrown for 411 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions in Polk’s 1-1 start.
Needless to say, he’s also enjoying himself.
“I’m having a great time, really,” Carter said. “I love Coach Fry and the new system that he’s put in. I think he’s been great for us, coming up with a new scheme every week and it really makes my job easier because he makes certain receivers are always open for me to throw to.”
“I’ve been very happy with his ball control and not making bad decisions when plays break down,” Fry said. “The first week, he had a couple, and we talked through that and he really improved the second week.
“That’s the thing that really excites me. He’s still leaving some stuff out there where he could, if he gets through his progressions a little more, if he’s a little more comfortable stepping up into the pocket, I think he gets a lot more. So that’s exciting.”
Carter opted not to play football his sophomore year, then rejoined the program last season and primarily played on the defensive side of the ball, recording 20 tackles, an interception and fumble recovery. He did catch a pair of passes for 21 yards.
With three-year starting quarterback Casey Beiler graduating, Carter accepted the challenge of sliding behind center as his replacement.
“Playing quarterback is just such a completely different role than the other positions on the field,” Carter said. “They’re all important, of course. As the quarterback, I’ve had to readjust to being a leader on the team, and that’s probably been my biggest challenge.”
Helping Carter’s transition and playing a role in his solid start to the season have been senior wide receivers Antonio Simpson and Keaundrae Green. Simpson is on track to be what’s believed to be the first 2,000-yard career receiver in school history while Green flashed his skills in last week’s loss to Tuscola with a six-catch, 122-yard effort.
“They’re amazing,” Carter said. “I think they’re both college-level athletes. They make my job a lot easier, for sure.”
Doing that job may prove much more difficult on Friday as Polk County faces a West Henderson defense that has been aggressive (10 sacks) and ball-hungry (five interceptions). Leading the Wolverines against that defense will put Carter’s skills to the test.
Thus far, though, the senior has been up to each challenge.
“He’s done a really good job of ownership,” Fru said. “I think guys have a lot of confidence in him in getting the ball to the right spot and doing what he needs to do.
“I think he’ll get better each week. We’re going to have our bumps. We’re going to have weeks where he may not play as well and the team’s got to rally behind that. But he’s done a really nice job for us.”