Friday Night Hero: Carson's Jeremiah Smith
By Ronnie Gallagher
CHINA GROVE — It was a strange football season for the Carson Cougars and defensive tackle Jeremiah Smith made sure it didn’t get even more so in the last game of the season.
North Iredell, a perennial bottom-feeder in the North Piedmont Conference, was ahead 7-0 early.
Smith, a senior, knew it was time to step up. He led a defensive charge that allowed no more points and helped Carson to an eventual 28-7 victory.
“We started playing Carson football,” Smith shrugged. “We played with the swagger we normally play with. We just didn’t let them do what they wanted to.”
No opponent did much when running at Smith, a 6-foot-1, 270-pound hulk. Through the injuries, bad breaks and bad luck during a 4-7 season, Smith always stood tall.
“He’s played well all season,” praised Cougars assistant Travis Billings. “He led by example. He’s one of the forces inside who made some plays.”
But as a team, Carson didn’t make enough of them. Four victories weren’t enough to make the playoffs.
“I was disappointed,” Smith said. “I wanted to go out my senior year with a ring. But we can’t be too disappointed. It’s not like we got screwed. We did it to ourselves.”
With his high school career over, Smith had time to reflect. He knows Carson could’ve done much better.
“I feel like throughout the season, we didn’t play to our ability,” he said. “Even in the games we won, we didn’t.”
Smith gave everything he had.
“Most teams had trouble running the ball inside,” head coach Mark Woody said. “They had to commit two bodies to him. He played very fast and very physical.”
“I’m best against the run,” Smith said.
North Iredell found that out. He was slamming Raiders to the turf after that first touchdown. Kemuel Brown ran 55 yards on North Iredell’s first play from scrimmage. Smith and the defensive front said enough is enough. Brown managed only 33 yards the remainder of the game. Raiders quarterback Jacob Queen completed an early 47-yard pass. He finished with just two more completions and had 13 incompletions.
So Smith walked off the field satisfied with his final game wearing the orange.
“I feel like I’m a determined guy,” Smith said. “I’m a goal-oriented guy. I try to go out and reach them. Personally, I fulfilled my goals. I feel it was my best year ever playing football.”
It was a good time for his best season. Colleges are noticing. Charlotte has expressed interest, and so has Campbell. Colleges have talked about moving him over center.
“I think I’d do well at that,” Smith smiled. “In middle school and pee wee, I played over center a lot and I dominated.”
Billings thinks Smith can handle the move to nose guard if that change is made.
“We played him there some against Hickory Ridge and asked him to get off blocks,” Billings said. “He’s pretty quick and fairly strong.”
Carson doesn’t lose many starters. But one of them is the big man they call Jeremiah.
Woody said he was excited to have so many kids back as he moved over and stood beside Smith.
“But they have some big shoes to fill,” Woody said, gazing over at his star defender. “And these are two of them.”
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