GIBSONTON — East Bay senior quarterback Nathan Carter is a tank, a bulldozer, a battering ram.
He is 6-foot-3, 245 pounds of muscle gripping a football and charging ahead.
“He is, most definitely, an unstoppable force,” East Bay center James Jarboe said.
This season, Carter has rushed eight times on fourth and short and gotten the first down every time — no matter how big the moment or how many players the other team stacks in the box.
Five times during a 40-36 victory over Bloomingdale, Carter bulled ahead successfully on fourth down, including the last time for a touchdown that won the game and clinched the Class 3M, District 6 title.
In the region quarterfinal game against Osceola last Friday, East Bay coach Mike Gottman did something he has done only once before in his 20-year coaching career inside his own 30-yard line: He went for it on fourth and short, calling Carter’s number, of course.
Later, on fourth and goal, Carter again charged ahead for the score. East Bay went on to win, 14-12.
“Nathan looks at me and says, ‘Coach I can get it,’” Gottman said. “I look at him, and I believe him and I say, ‘OK.’”
Carter smiles and shrugs.
“I’m really not a quarterback. I came here (from Bloomingdale as a sophomore) to play linebacker,” he said. “But when I came here they needed a quarterback, and I guess they saw me throwing it around with some guys, and (offensive coordinator Jeff Turner) said ‘Why don’t you try quarterback?’
“So, I guess I kind of got stuck with it.”
It turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened for the Indians, because Carter is not only a bull, he’s also a pretty good thrower.
After three seasons as the starting quarterback, Carter ranks No. 1 in school history (records go back to the school’s opening in 1957) in career passing yards (2,969), pass attempts (382), pass completions (204) and passing touchdowns (29), while ranking third in rushing yards (2,004) and fifth in rushing touchdowns (23).
“Not too bad for a linebacker,” Carter said. “I told Coach I want to come back one day and see my name on the school hall of fame board. I think I’ve earned it.”
Carter wasn’t bragging. He never does. He was grinning when he said it.
“I really just wanted to do whatever the team needed,” said Carter, an A student with a 300-pound bench press who has gotten some looks from lower-level colleges as a linebacker but nothing firm. “That’s all it really is for me.”
Presently, that means focusing on Friday night’s playoff game at Largo (8-2), hoping to add to a history-making season.
With the bruising Carter at the helm of East Bay’s hybrid wing-T offense, the Indians (10-1) have set single-season records for yards (3,779) and points scored (417).
Carter made a point to say he could not possibly do it alone and called out teammates who have been with him for three years, including offensive linemen Jarboe, Jaylon Key Johnson, Jaylin Albury, Dutravious Broadway Jr., Jamaal Platts and Jose Blanco; running back Jaelin Sneed (929 yards, 12 touchdowns); wing Vincent Ketchup (659 yards, eight touchdowns) and receiver Aiden Showers (22 receptions, 419 yards, four TDs).
“Seriously, it’s about all of us and not me,” Carter said. “I just happen to be the big guy playing quarterback.”