Carney broke records, set standard as one of state’s top two-way players

WELLS — At the end of every high school football season, there’s an uncomfortable question that every coach must confront: What do I have coming back for next year, and whom do I have to replace?

It’s a query that’s already been put forth Wells head coach Tim Roche, and as he knows, for good reason.

“It’s almost immediate that everyone wants to look ahead and say, What do you have back next year?’” Roche said. “And all I can say is we don’t have 2,077 yards and 30 touchdowns, never mind the leadership capabilities of the kid, the work ethic and everything else that goes with it, coming back.”

Anyone who saw Wells play this year, even only once, knows exactly who Roche is referring too ”“ senior running back Chris Carney, who did a lot of everything in leading the Warriors to within a few points of the Class C state championship game.

Carney ran for those 2,077 yards and scored 30 touchdowns ”“ both school records at a school that has seen plenty of outstanding ball carriers roll through ”“ and was also the leader of a defense that gave up an average of 16 points a game while playing on every special teams unit as well; in fact, as long as the game was even marginally close, it would have been hard to spot Carney looking on from the sidelines at any point.

Despite the almost inordinate number of fantastic football players who graced the fields of northern York County this year, Carney’s importance in every facet of the game for a team that came within a hair of a regional championship made him stand out.

As the kind of do-it-all player who had the kind of intangibles to match his jaw-dropping numbers, Carney is the 2014 Journal Tribune Football Player of the Year.

“That to me sets him apart from a lot of kids, that he’s so good both ways and would never leave the field,” Roche said. “You want to pick an MVP, that’s what he’s about.”

Carney, for one, may not be overly excited to hear about the honor. Here’s what he had to say about those school records after setting new marks in the Warriors’ 55-28 victory over Poland in the playoff quarterfinals:

“It means a lot. But those numbers wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for the 10 other people on the field. There’s 10 other people on that field that I wouldn’t have the touchdowns without them.

“There’s so many other things that go into it beyond just me, and that’s why I absolutely hate individual awards. Everyone works just as hard as anyone else so it’s not just one person who can be recognized. As long as we win, I don’t care about anything else.”

Winning is something Wells did plenty of, compiling an 8-2 record before falling to Leavitt 14-9 in the Western Class C regional championship game.

Along the way, Carney had big game after big game against the Warriors’ toughest opponents ”“ 196 yards and four TDs against Cape Elizabeth, 178 and a score against Yarmouth, 151 yards and two TDs in the first game against Leavitt, 191 yards and a TD in the 14-13 playoff win over Spruce Mountain and 197 yards and a TD in the regional final loss to Leavitt.

“Every game he had huge numbers,” Roche said. “You didn’t bottle him up, you just didn’t.”

Despite the defeat, the Leavitt game was perhaps Carney’s finest hour in his final high school game. On a muddy field and against a sturdy Hornets defense, Carney’s 197 rushing yards remarkable accounted for all but 17 of the Warriors’ total yards from scrimmage.

His 57-yard run set up a field goal late in the second half, and he then ran for 57 yards on five-straight plays, capped off by a 6-yard run, for Wells’ only touchdown of the contest.

But even in the games where Carney didn’t touch the ball much and didn’t have to play more than a half due to a lopsided score, he still found a way to make an impact.

Take the Warriors’ 50-0 rout against Freeport, when he touched the ball just nine times but made every one of them count, rushing for 50 yards and three touchdowns, returning a punt 55 yards for a score while also catching a pass on a 2-point conversion.

“He wouldn’t tell you that he wants the ball every play, but he’d take it every play,” Roche said. “If he had to carry it 50 times, as long as we’re ahead on the score board at the end of the day. He’d be fine with that. And vice-versa. If someone else needed to carry the ball and he’s the decoy, he’d be fine with that.”

The ability of the 165-pound Carney to tote the ball as many times as necessary started during the offseason, when Carney was a mainstay in the Wells weight room. That commitment to getting stronger, along with the blocking of his line and fullback Michael Curtis out of the Warriors’ Wing-T set, was what made Carney such a tough customer for defenders to bring down, Roche said.

“He took it to another level this year with his work ethic in the weight room,” Roche said. “When he did that, it set a great example for everyone else. He really stepped up his game due to the offseason workouts, because he understood he needed to be this kind of player for us to win.”

It was that kind of quiet leadership quality, a do as I do instead of a do as I say, that Roche may have appreciated more than anything else from a player he fully knows will be near impossible to replace.

“He is a leader, but he’s not a kid that’s going to get in everyone’s face. He’s just the kind of kid that says this is what I do, this is how I do it, do what I do and we’ll all be better,” Roche said.

“That’s what I like about him. It’s who he is and it’s been a pleasure for us. It makes it a lot easier to coach when your best player has the respect of every other kid on the team.”

— Staff Writer Cameron Dunbar can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 323 or [email protected]

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