Before the start of this season, Drew Carter wasn’t much of a quarterback. He had only started a handful of games on junior varsity his freshman year, and he spent most of last season as a utility player on varsity.
Carter had lined up in the slot or in the backfield, but not under center. As the junior has progressed this season, he’s looked better in every game.
“Coming into the season, I didn’t really know what to expect,” Carter said. “I didn’t play quarterback that much my whole life, and each week I just kind of learn the game more.”
The beginning of his career as the starting varsity quarterback was rough. Nelsonville-York began the season 0-2, and Carter was throwing a lot of interceptions.
After throwing back-to-back pick-sixes against Wellston in the second week of the season, he could’ve regressed. Instead, his teammates picked him up and the Buckeyes won four-straight games and earned the sixth seed in the playoffs.
“It definitely wasn’t my best game,” Carter said. “But I had some really good friends and players around me that were there to pick me up the whole time.”
Carter didn’t get much help from his run game in the first two weeks, with only 18 rush yards against Wellston. It also didn’t help that the Buckeyes lost one of their best playmakers, Brandon Phillips, early in the season. The offense was forced to become one dimensional and lean heavily on him.
The quarterback had that pressure taken off his shoulders in Week 3 against Meigs, as Nelsonville-York ran the ball nearly every play. Many quarterbacks would get bored with this offensive scheme and ask to throw the ball. Instead, Carter chose to keep handing it off.
“That game he was all smiles,” head coach Rusty Richards said. “He actually kept coming over and saying, ‘hey, run it again.’ He knows that a good running game is your best friend as a quarterback.”
Carter has since flourished in the back half of the season. The junior has thrown seven touchdowns without an interception in the last three games. He had his best game of the season in Week 6 against Athens and threw for 230 yards and two touchdowns.
Despite everything that has gone against him this season, Carter has managed to be one of the top quarterbacks in the area. The junior is fifth in southeast Ohio with 1,145 pass yards and has fewer attempts than everyone ahead of him.
The junior didn’t turn the season around alone, though. He spent long hours after practice at Boston Field throwing with his receivers.
“Those weeks, many nights after our practices, you look out and there’s him and (Ethan) Gail and (Leighton) Loge out there,” Richards said. “We just put a two-hour practice in and they’re out there at 6:30 or seven o’clock at night throwing on their own. A lot of it is just his hard work and dedication, and a lot of film.”
Carter will now have the opportunity to reap the benefits of his hard work in the playoffs. This is the first playoff appearance for the Buckeyes since they went to the state semifinals in 2017. Carter wasn’t on that team and hadn’t even started a game at quarterback yet.
With his team behind him and an ongoing four-game winning streak, the junior has more confidence than ever.
“I’m more confident now going into the playoffs than I have been this whole year,” Carter said. “I feel like our offense is really clicking and our defense has been outstanding.”
With his recent success, Carter has a good chance of leading the Buckeyes into the third round of the playoffs. That goal will start Saturday against eleventh-seeded Symmes Valley.