Slade Carroll was disappointed not to be selected to play in one of South Carolina’s all-star football games.
His play, however, hasn’t reflected that.
The Lexington senior running back is averaging nearly 180 yards rushing during the past three games since finding out he wasn’t selected to the Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Bowl last month.
Carroll hopes to continue that hot streak Friday when Lexington hosts Blythewood in the second round of the Class 4A, Division II playoffs.
“I was disappointed, but it was just fuel to my fire,” Carroll said Tuesday at practice. “It isn’t that big of a deal. I try not to think about it as much, but put my goals to bigger things in life.”
And one of those things is helping the Wildcats make it to a state championship game, something that hasn’t happened since 2000. Lexington is a win away from its school-record 12th victory in a row. The Wildcats haven’t won 12 games in a season since making it to the title game in 2000.
Carroll has been one of the keys to Lexington’s success this season. The two-year starter has rushed for 1,729 yards and 20 touchdowns this year, including his 176-yard, three-touchdown performance last week against Fort Mill. He could’ve easily gone for more than 200 yards if he and most of the starters weren’t pulled in the third quarter.
Carroll went over 4,000 yards for his career in the game, and Lexington coach Josh Stepp said that ranks him in the top five or 10 all-time in school history.
“Slade runs that offense. He bulldozes through everyone,” said Lexington defensive lineman Mason Mauldin, one of Carroll’s best friends on the team.
“He is a war daddy,” Stepp said. “He brings it every single day. No matter what the circumstances are in the game, he is going to play his tail off.
“He is a program kid. That is what I tell all of these college coaches. He is a kid you want in your program. He is going to make everyone around them better. Somebody is definitely getting a steal, whoever lands him.”
Stepp called it a “travesty” that Carroll didn’t get selected to one of South Carolina’s all-star games, but knows it’s hard to pick rosters. Only two kids per school are allowed to make each game, and the senior-laden Wildcats had two picked for the Shrine Bowl and Touchstone Energy Bowl.
“Our players who made it were very deserving,” Stepp said. “But I definitely think Slade plays with a chip on his shoulder for not making one of those games.”
Carroll has an offer from Presbyterian, and said he is drawing interest from Charleston Southern, Coastal Carolina and Gardner-Webb.
Carroll has been a perfect fit for Lexington’s zone-blocking scheme, and Stepp said the tailback needs just a little crease to burst through the running lane. The senior said he patterns his running style after former USC star Marcus Lattimore because of Lattimore’s one-cut ability.
And like Lattimore, Carroll stays humble despite achievements, deflecting the credit back to the Wildcats’ offensive line.
“They work their butt off every single practice and I am just following them,” Carroll said. “They have been doing it since Week 1.”