Carson Pearlman could have been skiing, ice skating and having fun this week with his senior classmates from Evangelical Christian School.
The class senior trip began last weekend and concludes this weekend in Lake Placid, N.Y., home of the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Pearlman, however, chose to pursue a different athletic adventure.
At 8 p.m. Saturday, Pearlman will be wearing a football uniform. He expected to play in the Blue Grey All-American Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The game will be live-streamed on FoxSportsFlorida.com.
Pearlman will be the only Lee County athlete with the chance to see action. North Fort Myers senior defensive tackle Marlon Gonzalez, who was invited to the game, cannot play because of a knee injury.
North Fort Myers High football coach Earnest Graham will be on the sidelines as an assistant coach for Pearlman’s South team.
“I’m pretty bummed, but this is a great opportunity,” Pearlman said of missing the senior trip. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Pearlman, listed at 6-foot-2, 215 pounds, will play high school football for the last time. He has had a standout career for the Sentinels, rarely leaving the field. He started at quarterback as a sophomore and threw for more than 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns. He started at running back as a junior and rushed for 1,100 yards.
As a senior, Pearlman started at wide receiver and caught 38 passes for 662 yards and 10 touchdowns. As a starting linebacker, he made a team-best 118 tackles.
“You know, I’m not sure,” Evangelical coach Tyler Gold said of Pearlman’s best position. “It depends on what you need. He can play either. I’m an offensive guy. He can catch the ball. He can run the ball. But at the same time, he led us in tackles this year.”
Pearlman said he wasn’t sure if he would play linebacker or wide receiver in college.
“It doesn’t matter to me what position I play,” Pearlman said. “I think my versatility allows them to choose where they need me.”
Dennis Pearlman, Carson’s father, said the dilemma of which position to play was a good problem to have.
Dennis Pearlman called the Blue Grey game the culmination of two years of hard work in getting there.
“You start with the regional combine,” Dennis Pearlman said. “If you get selected, you become a red zone prospect. Then you get invited to a super combine. There’s only four super combines in the nation. Then, you get selected to the game.
“The game is almost secondary to the whole process.”
The game also will give Pearlman once more chance to impress college scouts. He plans on making an official visit Jan. 18 to Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and on Jan. 22 to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo.
But first, Pearlman hopes to have a strong showing in the Blue Grey game, for which the players on both teams have just two practices.
“I think it will be a decent challenge, but all of these players are elite players,” Pearlman said. “They should be able to catch on quickly.”
Connect with this reporter: David Dorsey (Facebook), @DavidADorsey (Twitter).