Once junior Sam Carlson steps out onto the football field, he’s in the zone. No matter the situation, he stays disciplined and poised to blow through the opposition’s offensive line. As soon as the ball is snapped, he jumps into action and spins around the blocker, hurtling himself into the quarterback and getting the sack.
Having done his job, Carlson gets back up and prepares to do it all over again. At 6’3” and 220 pounds, the Novato transfer defensive end and tight end has had an immediate impact on the Tam football season.
Encouraged by his father, who played football in college, Carlson began playing football at eight years old. “I love the sport … I started watching it when I was a kid and I always wanted to play,” he said.
Born in Minneapolis and having lived in Oregon before Novato, Carlson has experienced playing the game in a number of different environments.
“[At Tam] we’re better than I felt at Novato,” he said. “We run a lot more. We run a different offense, a spread offense.” This spread offense entails the quarterback lining up a few yards away from the center (also known as “shotgun”) while “spreading” the defense with three to five receivers spaced downfield.
Carlson described Tam football as more intense than the other programs he’s played for. “Hell Week was the most conditioning I’ve ever done for a sport.” he said.
Hell Week was the week before school where the team was pushed to their physical and mental limits. Carlson took all of this in stride. “I knew there would be an end to it so I just kept going,” he said.
The intense preparation that Carlson and the team took part in over the summer has resulted in a positive start to the season. Despite a grueling loss against Marin Catholic on September 16, Tam has a respectable 2-2 record overall as of September 20.
Carlson has emerged as a force on the Hawk defense, leading the team in average and total sacks, and tied for first in tackles.
“Defensively I think he’s a stud,” said Head Coach Matthew LemMon. “If you go out and watch [Carlson], he can beat anyone in the league pretty easily. Even watching MC film today, even though we got blown out, you watch Sam against offensive linemen and he’s just all over them no problem. He actually hurdled a kid in game on defense which was pretty unusual and pretty crazy.”
While putting up impressive numbers, Carlson keeps a sense of humor about him during practices and conditioning.
“I think he’s like the team jokester …and you always need one and he gives everyone a good laugh,” LemMon said. “Every [now and then] you need someone to make a funny joke and do something goofy. Sometimes I’m serious and [Carlson] gives me a smirk and I chuckle a little bit and that’s the end of it and then I go ‘OK Sam, let’s get serious’, and he does what he needs to do.”