Marlon Smith’s skills as a quarterback were well known in the local community despite not having played a down for the Chiefs’ varsity team.
But the only ball Smith was throwing around entering this fall semester was a basketball.
“I wanted to do both, but I had chosen to start preparing for basketball,” Smith said.
Carol City is glad he’s since changed his mind.
Smith threw a pair of touchdown passes Thursday night, and coupled with another stellar defensive performance, the Chiefs won their fourth consecutive game with a 16-6 triumph over Norland at Traz Powell Stadium.
Carol City (4-2, 2-0 in district), which opened the season with back-to-back losses to Coral Gables and West Palm Beach Oxbridge Academy, is in first place in District 16-6A and on the verge of clinching a playoff berth.
Should Northwestern defeat Central on Friday, Carol City would clinch a playoff berth and move to within one district victory of clinching the district title for the second consecutive season.
“Each game is going to get bigger and bigger as it goes on,” Carol City coach Aubrey Hill said. “This team did a lot of growth after those first two losses.”
Smith, a prolific youth football quarterback, who played on Carol City’s junior varsity team last season, had chosen to strictly shoot hoops this year rather than throw the pigskin around.
But when a struggling Carol City team lost its starting quarterback to an injury at the start of the season, Hill said several members of the team pleaded with Smith to give football another try.
“I felt like my teammates needed me and I wanted to come out and help this team,” Smith said.
Smith has thrown eight touchdown passes since becoming Carol City’s starting quarterback.
He has energized an offense that has since helped the Chiefs secure blowout wins over Lakeland and Miami Central. The latter has given Carol City confidence it can win its district again and potentially upend the four-time reigning state champions in Class 6A.
“His nickname in little league was ‘Calm Brady’ because of his composure in the pocket,” Hill said. “He’s made a lot of big plays for us.”
Carol City’s punishing defense has been the consistent factor throughout the season so far.
The Chiefs recorded a pair of safeties Thursday, the second made possible when Mark Carter blocked a punt.
Nay’Quan Wright caught a 85-yard touchdown pass from Smith, who also threw a touchdown pass to Victor Tucker.
The Chiefs have not allowed more than 16 points in a game this season, and have allowed seven or fewer points during their four-game winning streak.
The hiring of former Miramar coach Damon Cogdell has been the catalyst.
Cogdell, who led Miramar to a state championship and two state finals appearances, is Carol City’s associate head coach and defensive coordinator. Cogdell’s Miramar squads were known for their stingy defenses.