Young Carter team running with high expectations
Fifteen minutes after the conclusion of the mile relay, Carter sophomore Kevin Howard pounded his fists into the Haggar Stadium infield grass for something like the 20th time.
Howard, nursing a sore hamstring, had lost a lead on the anchor leg and dropped his team to fifth place. He wasn't in the mood to be consoled by anyone, not his teammates, his coach or even his parents.
Expectations are that high at Carter. Despite the fact the Cowboys have only five seniors, and Clifford Jefferson is the only major point producer among them, the team wants to win, and it wants to do so now.
"The kids I have now are tired of hearing about Kimball and Skyline, " said first-year coach Scott Jackson, referring to Carter's District 11-5A rivals.
When he says kids, Jackson means it. Literally.
The Cowboys have a handful of juniors. But the bulk of this team is made up of sophomores and freshmen, two of which ran the last two legs on the sprint relay team Saturday at the Jesuit-Sheaner Relays.
Carter finished second to Longview in that event, posting a strong 42.15. The Cowboys also finished fourth in the distance medley relay, and junior Chris Williams took third in the 400, as Carter finished sixth in the meet's 5A Division with 39 points.
And that was without Jefferson, who also has been having hamstring problems. In fact, injuries have plagued Carter since the start of the season.
Still, Howard's attitude at losing the mile relay is reflected up and down the roster. There are no excuses. Not injuries and not youth.
"In order to compete with the best, you have to work hard, and you have to get your mind straight," Howard said. "To achieve big, you have to work big."
The injured, Jackson said, should be healed by the district meet in three weeks. If that happens, the only question is whether the team's youth can cope with pressure.
The key, though, is the team's expectations. Jackson, who served as an assistant coach at Kimball the past three years, is accustomed to high expectations. The Knights start each season thinking state title. That's all that matters.
The attitude he brought to Carter already has trickled down - all the way to freshmen Courtney Sterling and Adolphus Shelton, the sprint relay team members.
"This year is definitely a learning experience for us," said Shelton, who also runs the 100. "But it's also building our confidence. We' ve been doing well, and that shows us we can win."
Carter has won two of four meets and finished second and third in the others.
Juniors L'Eron George, Quinn Cummings, Monti Collier, Brandon Foster and Williams, along with Howard and the two freshmen, give the Cowboys a solid nucleus of sprinters and quarter-milers.
The seniors, meanwhile, have provided the leadership Jackson knew he'd need. The fact that Steve Washington, Rod Lipscomb and others remained with the team even though they likely won't get to Austin in May is something Jackson sees as vital.
"They're all good role players - they step up and do what we need, " he said. "That teaches a lot to these kids. It shows that everybody on the team has a role."
PHOTO: Carter High's Kevin Howard takes the baton from Brandon
Foster during the 1,600-meter relay at the Jesuit-Sheaner Relays.
Carter finished sixth in the Class 5A division.
© 1998 The Dallas Morning News All Rights Reserved
Dan Noxon / Staff Writer of The Dallas Morning News, Young Carter team running with high expectations., 03-29-1998, pp 20B.