Football was there for Carter. Now he’s there for Riverhead

Kurt Carter’s performance in preseason training camp may make him a two-way starter.

Kurt Carter was going through a rough stretch this past winter. His parents were in the process of getting a divorce and it was a difficult time for him.

Through all that difficulty, though, there was always football, and that helped. “This probably kept me out of trouble in the winter because it gave me something to look forward to,” he said.

Now Carter is giving something back to the Riverhead High School football program. The junior has been one of the greatest sources of encouragement for the Blue Waves during preseason training camp.

Last season Carter shared the quarterback position with Ryan Bitzer on the junior varsity team before being brought up to the varsity squad for the final four games. He did not play a single snap in those four games, but he did get a valuable taste of the varsity experience in practice. “I played [for the] scout team and got beat up by [Malcolm] Cater, [Edwin] Perry and Owen Keupp and all of them,” he recalled.

Carter came into preseason practice this year with modest expectations. He has been moved to wide receiver on offense to maximize his talent, and will play free safety on defense. Not only is Carter expected to see playing time, but Coach Leif Shay said he could be a two-way starter, much more than Carter expected.

“I actually surprised myself,” Carter said in interview following last Thursday morning’s practice. “I’m doing a lot better than I thought I was. I didn’t intend to come out and become a starter automatically. I didn’t think that was going to happen, and now they want me playing both ways.”

Carter prepared himself well for the coming season. He routinely woke up early this past winter and spring for 5 a.m. workout sessions in the gym. Now, he said, he is probably in the best shape of his football life. In the process, he is impressing his coaches.

“I think you can definitely see the results,” Shay said. “He worked extremely hard all summer long. He was blessed with God-given talent, but he is utilizing his talent to the maximum. … I think he can be a big playmaker for us.”

Carter said the switch to wide receiver hasn’t been difficult for him since he already knew the passing routes and had played tight end when he was in seventh and eighth grades.

“I want to make myself a better player so I can lead the team next year,” he said. “I feel I’ve done good. I’m getting better every day. I expect to get better every day.”

Joe Prete, a junior H-back and defensive end, has known Carter since they were about 7. They met at a summer camp and became chess partners before going on to become close friends and football teammates.

Prete said Carter can easily make the transition to wide receiver. “Kurt’s an all-around player; he can do anything,” Prete said. “Kurt’s a great athlete. He always gives 110 percent. He gives his hardest, no matter what.”

Carter said hard work helped him get through that rough patch in his life and prepare him for this next stage in his football career.

“It is exciting,” he said, “something to look forward to.”

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