Carter leads Smyrna offensive line

SMYRNA — In Jerren Carter’s freshman season, Smyrna High’s football team won just two games.

The Eagles’ veteran offensive tackle still remembers how frustrating that was.

“We came from so little to so much,” said Carter. “With one win we were excited. It was tough. I’ll just never forget that.”

Getting the chance to win a second straight Henlopen Northern Division title would have been something Smyrna could only dream about back then.

But the Eagles (4-0 North, 8-0 overall) can indeed make it two North crowns in a row when they go to Lewes tonight for a 7 p.m. showdown with Cape Henlopen (4-0 North, 6-2 overall).

And like Smyrna’s program itself, Carter has come a long way in a short amount of time.

A year ago, the 6-foot-3, 260-pounder was a first-team All-State pick as the Eagles won their first DIAA Division I state championship.

Smyrna coach Mike Judy, though, can tell you that, while Carter always had size and talent, he’s developed into a much-more polished lineman than he was a few years ago.

When Carter was younger, Judy said he’d sometimes let his emotions get the better of him. He drew his share of penalty flags.

“He’s really learned how to turn the switch on and off,” said Judy. “He likes to play football on a very physical level. He was a physically mature kid and it takes some time for the mental maturity to come.

“He’s extremely coachable. He does everything you want him to do. He’s a great teammate. He’s exactly what you want in a player.”

Judy says Carter’s performance this fall is one of the big reasons that Smyrna has picked right up where it left off offensively.

The Eagles are averaging 54.5 points per game. They’ve tallied at least 54 points in all but one contest this season and scored 60 points or more four times.

While Smyrna’s skill players put up the big stats, it’s Carter and his fellow linemen who make it possible. In the Eagles’ fast-paced approach, offensive linemen have to work as hard as anyone.

“If I had to list the positions that get the least amount of rest, ‘O’ line is at the top,” said Judy. “There’s never a no-contact drill with them ever. Even on a Thursday pre-game practice, they’re going full bore. Our run game is predicated on movement so we’ve got to be able to stretch the defense horizontally and vertically. Those kids get pushed very hard.”

What Carter likes is that the coaches always find new ways to challenge Smyrna’s linemen. Chris Sfamurri, a former Wesley College standout like Judy, coaches the offensive front.

Jerren Carter carries the Eagles flag as Smyrna charges onto the field.

Jerren Carter carries the Eagles flag as Smyrna charges onto the field.

“He always has something new for us to get better at,” Carter said about Sfamurri. “He will always find ways to better our game, better our fundamentals.”

Things are also a little different for Carter this year with his twin brother, Terren, now a freshman at Wesley. The two brothers had started on the Eagles’ line together the last couple years.

Carter is also playing next to a new starting right guard, junior Brent Young. Judy said Carter has done a lot to teach Young as the season has gone along.

Young said lining up next to Carter is a good place to be.

“He’s a great athlete,” said Young. “He makes my job really easy. He’s great at communicating, he’s really physical. He just dominates.

“He’s helped me a lot, in the film room and with my assignments. I can ask him questions and he knows what to do on every play. And any time we double-team someone, they’re always on the ground.”

Carter’s play has earned him a handful of scholarship offers from Division I FCS programs. He hasn’t made his mind up yet but said he’s leaning toward Albany, a Colonial Athletic Association rival of Delaware.

Signing a scholarship is going to be a big moment for Carter.

“I’ll get to tell Mom, ‘College is paid for, you don’t have to worry about that,’” he said, “I never thought I’d be playing college football. It’s an exciting feeling to know that I’m going to the next level and get to keep it going.”

“What I love about him this year is that he stayed hungry, even though he’s got offers,” said Judy. “He works hard at practice every day.”

Even though things are going so well right now, Carter hasn’t forgotten where he came from.

And that includes that tough freshman season when Smyrna had a mostly-different coaching staff.

“I’ll never forget that coaching staff that started me off,” said Carter. “They gave me the opportunity. I’ll never take that for granted.”

Extra points

Radio station Delaware 105.9-FM is slated to carry the Smyrna-Cape game tonight. … After Smyrna’s 54.5 points per game, Middletown is second in the state in scoring with an average of 45.8 points. Woodbridge is third at 41.1 points. … Woodbridge has the state’s stingiest defense, surrendering an average of only 3.4 points with five shutouts. … Caesar Rodney will be trying to end a nine-game losing streak tonight when it hosts Polytech for homecoming.

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