The long wait is over for Navarre running back Michael Carter.
Less than a year after suffering a devastating knee injury, one which tore his PCL completely and caused damage to his LCL and meniscus, Carter is back to full-speed and ready to run for the Navarre Raiders.
Don’t expect the emotions of the moment to overwhelm Carter. Friday’s opener is just another step in a recovery that began in the waning hours of Sept. 4, 2015.
“I’ve been playing the game for so long that it’s almost just like I took a few games off,” Carter said. “I’m looking at it in a mature, professional way. That’s all. Nothing to it.”
Carter and the Navarre Raiders open regular season play tonight against the Catholic Crusaders at Gorecki-LeBeau Stadium.
While there’s far more to the Raiders than Carter, Catholic head coach Greg Seibert said his Crusaders will have to key on the talented back and swarm as a team if they want to spoil his return.
“Our priority is going to have to be getting off blocks and running to the football as a unit,” Seibert said. “He is absolutely not a running back that is going to be tackled by a single person. It’s going to take an entire team effort on the defensive side of the ball to hopefully try and make them one dimensional enough that we can focus on what they’re trying to accomplish.”
Carter, a North Carolina commitment, played a quarter of live action during Navarre’s preseason game with Chiles (Tallahassee, FL) and was up for more before head coach Jay Walls sat him down.
“You could tell he was a little rusty, just because he hadn’t played since last December,” Walls said. “But that’s true for the whole team.”
Walls said Navarre will continue to monitor Carter’s fitness, particularly his response to the grueling heat that comes with August regular season games.
But otherwise Walls said Carter is a full-go for the season opener, setting up an August showdown between one of the area’s top teams and a group trying to prove themselves against the best.
“We know they’re young, but they’re a very athletic, talented group,” Carter said. “They can beat anybody on any given day, and Coach Seibert has been there for a long time. He game plans well so I think it’ll be a good game.”
Foley taking reins of Crusader offense
If Catholic wants to spring a season-opening upset tonight, a good performance from junior quarterback Garrett Foley will go a long way in making that happen.
A tall, lanky quarterback that joined the Crusaders from Washington in the offseason, Foley has been growing slowly, but surely into the Catholic offense.
“He’s been making the reads he needs to and putting the ball where it needs to be,” senior wide receiver A.J. Yates said. “He’s becoming a lot better at looking at his second and third reads and not getting frantic in the pocket. He’s just letting it come to him.”