By CHIP CIRILLO
Summit running back Tai Carter became the second player in school history to break the 1,000-yard milestone in Friday’s 37-17 win over Lincoln County.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound junior has rushed for 1,074 yards and 15 touchdowns in the Spartans’ first eight games.
“He’s got the speed, he’s got the power and he’s got the vision,” Summit coach Brian Coleman said. “I think the combination of what he has is very unique.”
Carter is averaging 8 yards per carry and 134.25 yards per game for the Spartans (6-2, 4-1 Region 5-5A), who average 33.63 points per contest.
“Oh, he’s doing an amazing job,” Summit quarterback Michael Zakrzewski said. “He’s hitting holes, he’s cutting when he needs to, he’s kind of staying patient with the line.”
Carter started the season strong with 139 yards and three TDs on 13 carries in a 25-20 loss to Spring Hill in the opener.
“I knew when we faced them early in the season we couldn’t stop him,” Spring Hill coach Jay Emmons said. “He is a very good running back/receiver. He can take it the distance and hit a home run with his speed, he can rush between the tackles and he makes some cuts and moves on guys that you just don’t see.”
Tennessee-Martin has shown some interest in Carter, who is also a talented cornerback.
He’s a point guard during the winter when he plays alongside his older brother John, a Navy commit.
“Sometimes the crowd goes crazy when he makes a pass to me,” John said. “He’s just a competitor, he’s an animal out there (in football). He wants to win.”
John, a 6-5 senior wing, averaged 18.1 points and 9.1 rebounds for the Spartans (19-7) last season. He played quarterback in football until the eighth grade when he quit to focus on basketball.
“Tai did a great job running the show last season,” said Summit basketball coach Josh Goodwin, who’s moving from coaching the girls to the boys this year. “He is one of the best on-ball defenders in the state. He can cover guys baseline to baseline with no issue. Very physical guy. That comes from football, his strength.”
Tai enjoys being on the court with John.
“It’s a privilege to play with him,” Tai said. “He does everything the coach asks him to and he does everything well.”
Tai has been clocked at 4.6 in the 40-yard dash. He squatted 405 pounds and benched 265 in the weight room.
Coleman calls Carter and halfbacks Dalton Fisher and Tyler Palmer “a three-headed monster.” Fisher has rushed for 589 yards and Palmer has 440.
“Tai is a blocker for them and they block for him,” said Coleman, who runs a run-oriented wing-T offense. “I think that’s an advantage for us. I don’t know if the scout teams do it exactly like we do it.”