Four years and three days after one of the best Springfield College players to ever lead the men in maroon and white played in his final game, another legendary quarterback currently on Alden Street finished off his career in an eerily similar fashion, finally putting to rest any question of where he stands in SC football history.
Despite all of the question marks that surrounded Josh Carter entering his senior season, the four-year starting quarterback gave forth his best-ever performance Saturday, rushing for a school-record 299 yards and four touchdowns, along with one passing touchdown, in the Pride’s 44-36 loss to Union.
The previous single-game rushing record holder was Chris Sharpe (280), arguably one of the best quarterbacks to ever start under center for Springfield College. In ironic fashion, Carter ended his career nearly the same way Sharpe did.
In Sharpe’s final game on Nov. 10, 2007, he was four yards shy of breaking his previous school rushing record after bursting for 276 yards and three touchdowns, while passing for a career-high 166 yards and two touchdowns combining for a school-record 442 total offensive yards in an Empire 8 54-42 victory over Norwich University.
Yet, it is time for the Chris Sharpe talk to go to rest, and it is time for the new comparison to be made for future Springfield College quarterbacks. Josh Carter has cemented his place in Springfield College quarterback history with Sharpe, Jim Collis and others. Carter came to campus with the tough task of following in Sharpe’s footsteps and now the next quarterback to take over will have to follow in both Sharpe and Carter’s footsteps.
Sharpe still may hold the title as the best athlete to run the quarterback position at SC, and granted Sharpe had one less year as a starting quarterback compared to Carter while
also leading the Pride to the NCAA tournament. However, Carter has been one of the best players in the nation this year and will go down as one of the best passers in school history finishing tied with Jim Collis with 28 career touchdown passes.
Carter has earned the right to be put in the conversation of all-time Springfield football greats.
Carter finished his career with 5,944 total offensive yards breaking the previous Springfield record for total offense held by Sharpe (5,723). He also set a new school record for TDs responsible for with 86, breaking Sharpe’s previous record of 84.
Just as Sharpe’s numbers could have been higher if he had started during his freshman year, so too could have been Carter’s if he did not have injury setbacks during his junior season. Regardless, both still put up the best numbers in SC history.
This year, Carter won two Gold Helmet Awards, two BSN National Offensive Player of the Week honors and finished first nationally in Division III in regular-season scoring with 17.40 points per game. The Marlborough, Mass. native also finished first in the nation in rushing touchdowns (27) while ranking second in points responsible for (23.20) and fifth in rushing (149 ypg).
Carter’s senior year, in which he rushed for 1490 yards (second most in school history) was by far the best of his career. In comparison, Sharpe’s best season came in 2006, when the quarterback won the Melberger Award for the Division III National Player of the Year and rushed for a Springfield College single-season record 1,941 yards.
That year, Sharpe led the nation in rushing per game (161.8 ypg), average points per game (17.7) and touchdowns (35), while also breaking six NCAA Division III records and 12 Springfield College records.
It would have been unrealistic and unfair for anyone at SC to expect Carter to put up the kind of jaw-dropping figures Sharpe did during his career, but Carter continued to work hard at the position and this year we all saw it on the field.
Despite finishing 6-4, Carter was able to maintain the starting quarterback position after entering the year in a QB battle with Austin Bateman. He remained poised and never let the pressure get to him. It fueled his fire.
If Josh Carter was faced with the tough task of overcoming the ghost of Chris Sharpe, the next quarterback to lead the Pride will now have to live up to the bar set by Sharpe and Carter.
Justin Felisko may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org