By JOHN JAMES MARSHALL, Journal Sports
All you need to know about Evangel lineman Jacob Carpenter can be found on what he wrote for a bio on his MaxPreps profile page.
He didn’t write anything about his size or honors received or his recruiting status. That’s not what he wants the internet to know.
Instead, he wrote three simple words: “Love the game.”
Because he does.
Carpenter loves it because he has always loved it. In particular, he loves Evangel football, which is not surprising since he’s been attending school on Broadacres Road since kindergarten.
You know those second-grade kids you see at every high school game who are always off to the side somewhere playing their own little football game? Jacob Carpenter wasn’t one of those.
Well, maybe just a little.
“When I was little, my parents would take to the game, but I’d sit in the stands and watch the first and second quarters,” Carpenter says. “After halftime, I might go play over with the rest of them for a while. I’d get my playing time in, that’s for sure. But I’d be back in time for the fourth quarter.”
“From the very beginning, he has loved football,” says Evangel coach Denny Duron, “and dreamed about being on this team.”
In an era in which many high school football players pay little attention to what has come before them, it’s nothing for Carpenter to cue up an Evangel video of games that were played well before he was born.
“I’ve watched all of those games of like the ’99 team and Brock Berlin and the legacy of Evangel,” Carpenter says. “To be here and continue that legacy is something that has always been a part of me. I bleed these colors.”
The 6-2, 260-pound Carpenter will try to continue the legacy Friday night when the Eagles (6-4), the No. 12 seed in Division II (Select) playoffs, take on 21st seeded Belaire (Baton Rouge) at Rodney Duron Field.
A few years ago, those around the Evangel program took to calling “The Servant.”
“If there was anything to be done – I’m talking about cleaning the locker room or equipment that needed to be picked up or anything that required something extra – Jacob has always been the first in line,” Duron says.
And if you think that because he is now a senior, that’s the job of some freshman, think again. “He still goes out of his way to do things like that,” Duron says.
All of that would make for a nice story if he were third-string and just hoping to get a letter.
Far from it.
Carpenter is a two-way starter this year (offensive and defensive tackle) for the Eagles and he was last year. Before that, he was a starter on offense as a sophomore and on defense as a freshman.
“When I came in as a freshman, I knew I had to pitch in and do my part to get on the field,” Carpenter says. “This place is so amazing and the upperclassmen had been doing it for so long and they deserved that respect. I knew I had a job to do and had do it as well as I could.”
The current “job” is anchoring both sides of the line, but he doesn’t particularly have a favorite side.
“That’s hard to say,” Carpenter says. “Whether it’s the offensive line or the defensive line, it’s just the hitting. It’s not the one on one, it’s more about the five guys on the line against the other five. Working as one to accomplish a goal, that’s it right there. You can’t beat that group effort.”
And as for his three-word bio?
“A lot of people lose their love for the game,” Carpenter says. “Their body starts getting worn out. But for me, football is the closest thing you can get to life. You get knocked down and you get back up. It’s prepared me so much for what I am going to continue to do.”
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