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Hoover’s QB Is Living the Dream
By Lee Davis
Journal Sports Writer
Like many little boys, Ryan Carter knew what he wanted to be when he got older.
But in Carter’s case, he didn’t want to be a cowboy, a firefighter or an astronaut. He wanted to be the quarterback of the Hoover Buccaneers.
Carter began following Hoover football at an early age and idolized the Bucs’ impressive line of quarterbacks, from John Parker Wilson to Jarod Bryant to Ross Wilson. And Carter knew he wanted to be heir to the great tradition.
“It’s pretty much what I grew up setting my sights on,” said Carter, when contacted last week. “Being the quarterback at Hoover is all I wanted to be for as long as I can remember. I would watch them play and think, ‘That’s going to be me one day.’ ”
Carter is living his childhood dream. As a junior last season, he quarterbacked the Bucs to their first Class 6A championship since 2005. And Carter will be the signal-caller when Hoover opens its season against Byrnes of South Carolina Friday night.
“Last year was so special to be able to bring the championship trophy back to Hoover,” he said. “We had come so close in the past two years but just didn’t make the plays.
“It’s always hard to repeat a championship, but if we take one game at a time, we’ll be okay.”
Carter enters the 2010 season in a much different situation than he did a year ago. This time last season, he was the Bucs’ big question mark as a quarterback with virtually no varsity game experience.
Those doubts vanished almost immediately, as Carter stepped up to the position. Leading Hoover’s complicated pass-oriented offense, he completed 238 out of 383 passes – a 62 percent rate – for 3,188 yards and 34 touchdowns with only 12 interceptions.
Carter was effective on the ground as well, gaining 298 yards on 86 attempts for five touchdowns.
The highlight may well have been Hoover’s 28-23 win over Prattville in Tuscaloosa’s Bryant-Denny Stadium in the 6A state championship game, as the Bucs ended the Lions’ 54-game in-state winning streak. Carter’s 41-yard touchdown pass to Maudrecus Humphrey started Hoover on a roll that Prattville couldn’t quite overcome.
“We were so proud to win for all the guys that came before us,” said Carter. “We were able to get ahead early, and our defense hung on at the end.”
The biggest test of all, however, may have come in the season’s sixth game, when Hoover overcame a 21-0 halftime deficit to defeat cross-town rival Spain Park 24-21. Carter completed 17 of 28 passes for 220 yards and a touchdown.
Perhaps more importantly, he completed 10 of his final 11 passes for 149 yards and calmly drove the Bucs to the Jaguar 12-yard line, setting up the game-winning field goal with three seconds remaining.
“The Spain Park game gave us a lot of confidence,” Carter said. “It showed us we could come from far behind and beat a good team. That helped us the rest of the way.”
Now Carter returns as one of the region’s most experienced and respected quarterbacks.
“I feel like I need to be a leader for the team,” he said. “I’m not going to do a lot of yelling and screaming. I’d rather be a leader by example.”
Carter was a leader in the off-season as well. He put himself through a rigorous weight training program and gained 20 pounds.
“I’m up to about 195 now,” he said. “I was kind of wiry as a kid. The extra 20 pounds made me stronger and helps me get a little more zip on the ball.”
The regimen must have paid off, as Carter showed no signs of rust in Hoover’s 44-7 jamboree victory over Northridge last week. He completed five of seven passes for 130 yards, including an 87-yard touchdown strike to Jaylon Denson.
Carter admits he would like to follow in the footsteps of many previous Hoover quarterbacks and move on to play at the collegiate level. But that’s a priority for another time.
“I’d love to play college football, but I can’t think about that now,” he said. “I want to go out and have a great senior year and we’ll see what happens.”
Ryan Carter is bound to have a great senior year. After all, he’s living his childhood dream.
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