St. Mary’s High School football fans have seen Jarett Carl take a beating and keep playing at a high level the past three years as the team’s center.
What they haven’t seen is the 4.4 grade-point average student who falls asleep doing homework most nights.
Carl, a senior, is not only the fourth brother from his family to play for St. Mary’s, he's the third to play center and wear No. 55 – joining Jordan and Joey Carl.
“He has an exceptional work ethic. The amount of effort that he puts into the things that he does is really extraordinary,” Rams coach Tony Franks said. “He’s just loaded with AP classes and buried with homework – late nights, very little sleep, and coming in and doing football.”
That grit is paying off for Carl and the Rams this week, as St. Mary's faces Folsom High School in the Sac-Joaquin Section Division I championship at 6 p.m. Saturday at Sacramento State. Carl is one of five three-year varsity players on the roster who trekked to Sacramento State two years ago for a 21-14 championship loss to Sacramento-Grant.
“Everybody’s really excited to get another chance at a section ring,” Carl said after the Rams’ practice Wednesday evening, “and it’s even better that we get to play Folsom again.”
Offensive line coach J.D. Willis has been at St. Mary's since 2000, and has been blessed with a stream of highly-intelligent players, he said Thursday. Carl, and his brothers, all function in the same workmanlike way.
“They’re like cookie cutters of each other. They’re all just tough guys who play hard. They make up for their lack of size with tremendous heart," Willis said. "They’re very intelligent, very smart kids."
Carl, who lives in Lodi, grew up playing Pop Warner football and dreaming of his chance to wear green and white. Jordan Carl was the center for the St. Mary’s team that won a section championship and lost in a state final to San Diego-Cathedral Catholic in 2008.
“Just growing up out on the field, playing football with all of the other little kids,” said Carl, “watching the games and looking forward to coming here.”
Despite his mountains of classwork, Carl is one of St. Mary’s most prolific and hard-working weightlifters, Franks said. That translates to the field, where the Rams have a hard time taking him out of a game, even for a play.
“His toughness is another thing that really stands out to me. He gets banged up in there, but he won’t come out,” Franks said. “He’s a very reliable, trustworthy guy. He was raised right.”
Carl is not the biggest guy on the offensive line — which isn't unusual for a center — and stands at 6-foot-1, 230 pounds. But his impact has been praised consistently, from his coaches, to current teammates and Rams linemen past like Tony Harper, now at Delta College.
Carl and fellow seniors Mikie Prefling and Popo Aumavae have been on varsity together for three years, and anchor one of the most dominant lines in Northern California.
“The kids have nicknamed him ‘The Machine’ because he does everything exactly the same," said Willis, who called the center "the captain" of the offensive line. “He sets the front and makes a lot of calls for us in our protection.
"They all rally around Jarett. He calms all of the cast of characters he has around him.”
Carl was voted second-team All-Tri-City Athletic League as a junior, and this year's team has yet to be released.
He plans on studying biology, and is open to playing college football: “It’s up to the coaches who look at me.”
Certainly, the further St. Mary’s advances in the postseason, the more eyes will be on Carl and his friends.
Carl, though, is too busy to get nervous about scouts in the stands. His daily routine won’t allow it.
“It’s usually football,” said Carl, “and when I get home it’s homework until I fall asleep.”