Carroll Academy football coach Bo Milton explained Maddox Carpenter in a nutshell with one play against Indianola Academy last season.
In their first meeting of the season, the Rebels got the ball to start the game. On a first down play, Milton handed the ball to Carpenter on one of his patented buck sweeps. The hole opened just like it was drawn up, and Carpenter planted his foot in the ground and headed up field. Sitting in the open field was the Indianola cornerback, and Carpenter had a decision to make.
The 5-foot-10, 170-pound running back did what he does on almost every play. Carpenter put his head down and bowled over the Indianola defender and drove him back another three yards for an 8-yard gain.
“I thought Maddox had killed their cornerback,” Milton said. “If you want to see what kind of football player he is, look at that play, and it says it all. He would rather run over somebody than try to juke them. That’s just who he is. He probably could have had six or seven more touchdowns last year if he would have made just one person miss instead of trying to run over them. But that’s just who he is.”
It was that rugged rushing style that helped Carpenter lead the Rebels with 810 yards rushing and five touchdowns. He was also an all-Crossroads selection and an all-district pick for the Rebels last year.
“We really relied on him running the ball a lot last year,” Milton said. “This kid ran for 800 yards last year and was splitting time with another back who ran for 700 yards and another kid who ran for 400 yards. In another year, he’s probably a 1,500-yard rusher for us if he is the main guy. That’s the beauty of it. He is a hard-nosed kid. He’s a kid who has 1,600 yards in his career and already has a lot of yardage.”
As a ninth grader, Carpenter got some playing time after the junior high season ended. As a sophomore, he primarily played on defense as the Rebels made their run toward the Class 3A championship game. He was a full-time starter on both sides of the ball last year.
“Maddox has gotten better every year,” Milton said. “I thought last year was a good breakout season for him. He led us in rushing last year. He has always been good off the edge at linebacker. He’s fast, physical and tough. When he comes downhill running the football, he’s not looking to juke anybody, he’s looking to run over you. He has that toughness about him that I really like.”
While he led the Rebels in rushing last year, Carpenter says he prefers the defensive side of the football.
“It was one of my better offensive seasons,” Carpenter said. “I didn’t play a lot on offense my 10th grade year but last year I got a lot of carries and I thought I played fairly well. Obviously the season didn’t go like we wanted. But, I like defense better. I just like making tackles. You don’t have to worry about juking people out or trying to make somebody miss.”
Milton said Carpenter can cause havoc on defense from his outside linebacker position.
“He is really good from the weak side,” Milton said. “He comes off the edge well and it’s hard to get around him. He puts a lot of pressure on the quarterback when he gets turned loose on the back side. He’s a three-year starter for us on defense. I think the thing that makes him a great player is he has a great motor and he doesn’t like to lose. He’s a quiet kid but he plays different on Friday night.
That’s the thing, there’s not telling how good any of these guys could be if they just played one way.”
And Milton said it’s that can-do attitude that makes Carpenter a pleasure to coach.
“He’s going to give you 100 percent and always has a great attitude about things,” Milton said. “He is one of those kids, he’s yes sir, no sir and is going to do it to the best of his ability and is going to do it full speed. That’s just who he is. He always has a smile on his face. He’s a typical teenager. He’s one of those where’s always going to have fun. I think all the girls are sweet on him. He has that pretty boy kind of look about him. But he plays football like he’s not a pretty boy.”
Carpenter is also a standout on the baseball field for the Rebels, where he made the All-Crossroads baseball team this past season. Carpenter had a .382 batting average with two home runs, 21 RBIs and 26 runs scored.
“I thought it was actually a pretty good year,” Carpenter said. “I didn’t expect to have as good of a season as we did but we all came together and played as a team. We struggled early in the season but ended up playing pretty good in the district and made the playoffs. There could be a future there. I mainly want to focus on working but if something came up there, I would have to look at it.”
When he’s not playing sports, Carpenter said he cuts yards and works for his grandfather. When he’s not working, Carpenter said he likes the outdoors and hunting.