Abel Carter is nearing the end of a high school football career many dream about but few enjoy.
Entering Friday’s regular-season finale at Douglas, Carter is the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,379 rushing yards and 48 TDs. He has rushed for 100 or more yards 21 times.
“I definitely have accomplished pretty much everything I wanted to accomplish in my career and maybe more,” Carter said in a sit-down interview last week. “That (leading all-time rusher) is a great accomplishment. I’ve worked hard over the past four years. It’s great to see it end like this.
“I’d definitely like to be Player of the Year for the entire region, and I would have liked to have won a regional title.”
Abel’s older brother, Asa, was a multiple POY winner yet most feel Abel is the better football player.
Blair Roman, Carson’s veteran head coach, made a comment that makes the most sense regarding Carter’s value to the program.
“We would be 0-8 this year without him,” Roman said. “Instead we are 3-5. We have been competitive in five of the seven games and had a chance to win a couple of games (Galena and Bishop Manogue). We could easily be 5-3.
“Abel is the best all-around player I’ve ever coached through the offense and defensive side of the ball. Abel is more compact and stronger, Asa is longer and has better receiving capabilities.”
In the three games Carson has won (Lewiston, McQueen and North Valleys), Carter has enjoyed monster games.
The talented senior went for 272 on 25 carries and both of CHS’s scores in a season-opening 14-13 win over Lewiston. Against McQueen, he carried 31 times for 202 yards, and he had 199 on 20 carries with three TDs against North Valleys.
Just for good measure, throw in the 240-yard five-TD effort in a 42-35 loss to Galena, and an impressive 24-carry 192-yard effort with a score in a loss against Bishop Manogue.
He has done all this behind an ever-changing offensive line, and he’s done all of this with every team in the league tailoring their respective defensive game plans to shut him down, or at the very least contain him.
What has made Carter so good for three years is a mixture of mental toughness, physical toughness, strength, outstanding vision and better-than-average speed. Carter has made more than one tackler look extremely silly and grasping at air when the CHS star comes his way.
The mental toughness is probably due in part is he’s the youngest of eight boys, and all played sports at Carson High. Josh, Paul, Luke, Caleb, Levi, Asa and Seth enjoyed a lot of success.
“That definitely has something to do with it,” Carter admitted. “You grow up with a lot of brothers, and you have to be very tough. You can’t be around my brothers and not act tough. Asa used to pick on me a lot, and that’s because he was closest to me in age.”
Carter’s vision reminds one of Dylan Sawyers, who was an outstanding running back, and the most prolific touchdown scorer in CHS history. Both Carter and Sawyers were extremely good at evading tacklers except when they wanted or needed to run over a defender.
“A lot of it has to do with experience and knowing where the holes are supposed to be,” Carter said. “It’s a lot of instinct I guess.”
His older brother Paul, a former state wrestling champ and a three-sport guy himself, agreed. Paul Carter had the privilege of watching not only Abel, but Asa (Carter) as well.
“Certainly it’s an ability that is God-given I think,” Paul Carter said. “You either have it or you don’t. Some of it is innate.”
Another plus is Carter’s durability. He plays two ways (running back and linebacker) where there’s constant body contact on every snap, and Carter has yet to miss a game. He can accept hard hits, but he likes to dole out punishment, too.
“I’ve been watching Saquon Barkley. He is really good,” Carter said. “Adrian Peterson and Marshawn Lynch. I definitely want to be tough like them; be nasty and get as many yards as I can.”
Carter has done just that. His legs are like pistons, constantly churning. It’s what enables him to pick up that extra yardage.
Every coach has raved about Carter at one time or another in the last three years, and one of his biggest boosters is McQueen coach Jim Snelling.
“Abel is a throwback to a different era, and I mean that in the very best sense of the term,” Snelling said. “It was a time when your best players played every down, offense, defense and special teams. He is a natural leader, and you can tell he’s respected by his teammates. In an era where kids are often forced to specialize in one or two sports, he has been a standout in all three.
“As far as the next level goes, whether he plays offense or defense depends on where he goes. There is no doubt in my mind with his work ethic and toughness he will be successful at the next level wherever he decides to attend. He is a good one, and one that as a parent you want to use as an example for your own kid to emulate.”
New Carson basketball coach Jordan Glover has known Carter just a short time, and he’s already impressed by what he’s seen.
“Abel just loves to compete and that’s what makes him one of the top athletes in the north,” Glover said. “He flat out will compete and never back down.”
Despite his impressive numbers he has put up in his three varsity football seasons, it’s been quiet on the recruiting front for football. Navy offered, but Carter doesn’t want the post-graduate military commitment. He has a standing offer from Southwestern Baptist, a Division II school, where Asa Carter attends.
“A few schools have talked to me,” Carter said. “It’s a little disappointing. That is life I guess.”
One Division I offer he’s mulling over is from Washington State for baseball. He has made a non-binding verbal commitment to the Cougars, and he took an official visit there recently
“I told Abel I would help him move on and achieve his goals,” Roman said. “I’m disappointed that he isn’t getting more attention from Division I schools for football. I think he will have his pick of D-2 schools like Asa did. If he were a few inches taller he would be going somewhere (big) which is hard for me to hear.
“I see him more as a running back if he does play at the next level. He has the perfect body type for a lot of offenses. He is the most devastating blocker we have. We have complained to officials about defenders cutting him in the open field which is illegal. They don’t want to take him on in the open field.”
Wise choice. Carter is like a human battering ram, and he inflicts a lot of pain on opposing players.