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PCA’s Carr living up to Animal’ nickname

[10/18/01]Plenty of football players look like they could live up to the nickname “Animal,” but Porters Chapel Academy linebacker Nick Carr isn’t one of them.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pounder always seems to have a smile on his face, rarely gets worked up over anything and almost looks like the only way he could tackle someone is by tripping them.

But Carr lives up to his nickname in other ways. He has a nose like a bloodhound when it comes to finding the football, runs down opposing ballcarriers like a cheetah and hits them with the force of a charging rhino.

“If you see him walking down the street, he doesn’t look like much. But when you strap those pads on, he’s just like a different person,” said PCA assistant coach Randy Wright, who coached Carr through three seasons of junior high ball. “I was watching the guys walk out of the locker room for a game a couple of weeks ago and just looking at their eyes. There’s a different look in his eyes than most of them.”

Carr, a junior, has been one of Warren County’s best defensive players this season. He leads the county in tackles, with 104, and has also pounced on eight fumbles, hawked three interceptions and chased down the quarterback for seven sacks.

“I’m not really the fastest or most athletic or the most coordinated, but if you go out there and hit people as hard as you can, you’ll have fun. And it’s all about having fun,” Carr said.

Carr didn’t get many chances to have fun last season. Even though PCA only had about 15 players on its senior-laden roster, he played primarily on special teams.

Then he put on about 15 pounds in the offseason and dominated teammates during spring drills. After a good game against Rebul in a spring jamboree, Rebul coach John Baker told several PCA coaches that Carr had “played like an animal,” and the name stuck especially after his performance so far this season.

“Nick has been a pleasant surprise. I always knew he had great instincts, but he has just taken it to another level this year,” Wright said.

“He’s always had a nose for the football, but physically, he’s just better this year.”

Carr said that with all of the seniors gone from last year’s team, he knew it was time for him to show what he could do.

“I was living in their shadow,” Carr said of the nine seniors. “When it’s your time, you’ve got to step up.”

The jamboree games also had another effect on Carr. As his first real game action on the high school level, he quickly learned the law of the jungle.

“You had to learn how to hit, quick,” Carr said with a laugh. “Tri-County had a pretty big fullback, and he just came running at me. That kind of told me that it was hit or be hit.’ I haven’t been laid out at all this year.”

Carr’s efforts have helped create opportunities for the other PCA defenders, too. By roving from outside linebacker to middle linebacker, Carr can confuse defenses and draw double-teams, freeing up teammates to make tackles.

“He opens it up real nice,” said defensive lineman Michael Guynes, who has 84 tackles and 15 sacks this season. “Wherever the ball is, Nick is going to be at least 5 feet by it.”

Carr and the PCA (3-4) defense will get perhaps their toughest tests of the season in the next two weeks. Friday night at 7, they travel to face Brookhaven (6-1), which has averaged 26.5 points per game while rolling to a 6-0 start.

The Eagles host undefeated Tensas the following week.

Brookhaven started 6-0 and is averaging 26.5 points per game, while Conference 7-A rival Tensas is 7-0 and averages 32 points per game.

Fullback Adam Smith, who has rushed for more than 100 yards in five of Brookhaven’s first seven games, leads the Panthers. Explosive quarterback Jake Sessums, who picked apart the Eagles for 261 yards of total offense and three touchdowns in a 35-31 PCA win last season, has graduated but Brookhaven coach Ray Ishee said Ben Davis has filled in nicely.

“We’ve got a good football team. We feel like we’ve got some talent and the kids are playing together real well,” Ishee said.

Wright said the Panthers are just as versatile on offense as they were last season.

“They’re big, they’re strong and they’re fast. They do a lot of different things. They throw it, they run it right at you,” Wright said, adding that Brookhaven’s defense was also tough. “Defensively, same thing. They flow to the football. Every time they make a tackle it looks like all 11 of them make the tackle.”