High school football: No Dowd about it, doing what’s ‘best for we, not me’ right way for Carson senior

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 21, 2021

By Mike London

CHINA GROVE — Carson senior Carter Dowd’s natural positions are inside linebacker and fullback, so why is he playing outside linebacker and halfback?

“We talk a lot about doing what’s best for we, not what’s best for me,” Carson head coach Daniel Crosby said. “Carter is a great example of that. He’s made some personal sacrifices to help this team be as good as it can be.”

Dowd, who handles punting duties in addition to playing both ways, was one of Carson’s leading tacklers as a junior. He played offense when Carson went to its “heavy package” for goal-line and short-yardage situations. Dowd scored five touchdowns, mostly on 1-yard plunges.

Crosby made the decision to completely overhaul Carson’s offense for the current season. It was a choice based on the available personnel.

Last season’s quarterback Alex London, mostly a thrower, had graduated, along with standout receivers.

Hunter Burris, a former cornerback who is primarily a runner, was going to be directing the offense.

So the Cougars switched to the veer offense. It’s been quite a transformation. Carson put the ball in the air 34 times in the final game of the 2021 spring season, the wild overtime victory against South Iredell.

This season, if all is going well, the Cougars won’t throw  34 times in a month.

The run-heavy offense has churned out some 300-yard games and has been successful, except against West Rowan and Concord, the best two teams in the South Piedmont Conference.

Burris is among the county rushing leaders and has put the ball in the end zone eight times. Dowd, the workhorse as one of the two halfbacks in the veer, has powered for 404 yards on 91 carries. He’s carried as many as 20 times in a game and he’s scored seven touchdowns.

“I was excited when we talked about changing the offense and me playing more on offense,” Dowd said. “Playing both ways is awesome — it’s like being back in YFL. But I’d still say I like defense better. It’s a lot more fun hitting people than being hit.”

Dowd’s running style falls into the high-contact category At 5-foot-10, 200 pounds, he’s not looking to go around anyone. He’s looking to run right through you.

“Carter isn’t shifty and he’s not fast,” said Crosby, who performed in a two-way role similar to Dowd’s during his playing days at South Rowan. “But he runs very hard. He wants to make three or four guys tackle him.”

In Carson’s 45-7 win last week that broke a four-game losing streak,” Dowd wasn’t eye-popping, just steady. He produced 69 yards on 12 carries. His blocking also helped the other back, Jordan Galarza, put the ball in the end zone twice.

“It starts with the offensive line, and those guys opened the holes for us to hit some big runs,” Dowd said. “Hunter Burris made good decisions and pulled it for some big plays.”

East was well-prepared to stop the three basic elements of the veer — quarterback keeper, dive or pitch — so Carson countered with some wrinkles, using power and iso plays with Dowd as a lead blocker for Galarza.

“Those were fun plays, getting to make the lead block with a pulling guard coming behind me,” Dowd said.

Carson went into the season with the idea that Dowd would be able to focus on offense, but with depth in short supply, he’s also been needed on defense.

He’s changed positions, but he’s still tackling people like he always has.

“Most of my life I’ve played defense and the East game was my kind of game,” Dowd said. “They threw  lot of short passes, so the biggest thing was just containing them, keeping the backs in front of me and making the tackle if they caught it.”

Carson played at home against East on a Wednesday. Last Thursday and Friday were Wellness Work Days for the school system, and East and Carson wanted to make sure their teacher/coaches had the benefit of those days.

While it was a short week, Carson was ready.

“We put in five practices to get ready, by holding early practices on Monday and Tuesday morning,” Dows said. “When we play East it’s always physical and emotional. They got after it and we got after it, but I thought we handled everything really well. It was our best game.”

Carson has played its best football the past two weeks, with a down-to-the-end loss to Northwest Cabarrus preceding the victory against East.

While Carson is only 2-5, with the RPI system that’s in place for determining wild-card playoff berths, the Cougars are still in the running for the postseason.

They know they have to beat Central Cabarrus on Friday and South Rowan the final night of the regular season to have a shot.

“Carson hasn’t been to the playoffs in a long time (2016),” Dowd said. “It’s a goal that we’re pushing for.”