Southwood QB may have bright future, but his present is spectacular
Carson Blair will add another chapter to legacy tonight
WABASH – Wednesday opened the early signing period for high school athletes across the nation to commit to colleges in all sports aside from football (the first Wednesday in February is when that signing day occurs).
Young people here, there and everywhere posted photos on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, and even (on occasion) Facebook (but that site is for old people) proclaiming their achievement in obtaining a college scholarship.
Perhaps that will occur at some point in the life of Southwood High School senior 3-sport athlete Carson Blair, or maybe it won’t. But regardless of whether that actually happens or not, the future can’t diminish the greatness of Blair’s present, which is borderline fantasy.
“Right now,” Blair told News-Sentinel.com of his future plans, “I don’t really know what I’m going to do.”
That isn’t accurate at all, because Blair – and everyone else in the Southwood community – knows exactly what he is going to do. Blair is going to finish his football career at some point this month as the most prolific quarterback in Knight history; and possibly all of north-central Indiana, for that matter; before embarking on a similarly successful basketball season.
In short, Blair will go down in Southwood lore as one of the greatest – and most successful – athletes in the history of Wabash County.
“The kid we had before Carson,” veteran Southwood coach Dave Snyder said, “Robbie Cole, was pretty dog-gone good. We thought ‘Carson will take Robbie’s place. He’ll do well.’ I had no idea that it’d be like this.”
Blair will lead the Knights (11-1) in their quest for the program’s first IHSAA 1A Regional title since 2002 tonight at Monroe Central (7 p.m.).
You have to forgive Snyder for underselling Blair with his expectations. No one in their right mind could’ve envisioned what Blair has done statistically. But Snyder did see some early signs in Blair’s career that gave the coach a glimpse of what was to come.
“His first couple of games as a sophomore,” Snyder explained, “you could see that he had some potential, but he struggled a little bit.”
In the Knights’ fifth game that season, they had to go to rival Wabash, which was unbeaten at the time and winning games by an average of 25 points. Blair led Southwood to a 28-21 win.
“That is when I really thought ‘This kid is going to be good,” Snyder said.
No, Blair became great.
That season, Blair completed just half of his passes and an impressive (for most) 25 touchdowns, but he also threw 12 interceptions, as Southwood finished 7-4 and lost in the sectional semifinal.
As a junior, Blair began the ascent of his development, which Snyder says has been the most impressive part of watching this kid play. Blair threw for over 1,000 more yards, won nine games and a sectional championship, and increased his touchdowns to an astounding 43, all the while lowering his interceptions to seven.
“He has progressed like,” Snyder paused, “I don’t know how to describe it.”
I’ll help the coach.
Blair has progressed like one of the most intellectual and talented quarterbacks to ever take the field in this part of the state.
The Knight coaches put the play calls in Blair’s hands on almost every play. He has the authority to throw (which he has 305 times this year) or run (which he has for over 500 yards). Or both.
“We just try to make sure the ball gets snapped to him on every play,” Snyder said of the ingenious strategy, “and let him go from there. He throws really well on the run.”
If Blair would’ve stopped playing after last season, he still would have accumulated a fantastic statistical career. But he took his numbers to another stratosphere that surely will never be reached at the school.
After improving his completion percentage from 50 to 60.4 percent a year ago, he has completed nearly 65 percent of his throws this season. He also has tossed 55 (not a typo) touchdown passes and thrown only three interceptions (as in one less than four).
“He can put the ball in there,” Snyder said.
For his career (which could have three more games remaining), the 6-foot quarterback has thrown for 9,652 yards, completed 58.3 percent of his throws, 123 of which have gone for scores against just 22 interceptions.
As a runner, he has averaged over four yards per carry and totaled over 1,000 yards.
But if you ask him about those statistics, Blair will quickly single out one number that he wants more than anything.
“I look at the numbers,” Blair said. “But that isn’t the biggest part; the biggest part is getting wins and to keep moving on in the tournament. Twelve (victories) will be the biggest (number), keep winning.”
That is something that Blair has done quite a bit of in his athletic career.
Following last week’s sectional title, that makes for two of those that he has helped his team win in football, to go with 27 (and counting) victories over the past three seasons as the starting quarterback. A win tonight will tie the program’s mark for the most wins over a three-year stretch in two decades.
In basketball, Blair averaged over 20 points per game as a junior for a team that has won three consecutive Three Rivers Conference titles, 54 games in that span, as well as a sectional title.
“I’ll see what the (college) offers are,” Blair said of his future. “I’m not even sure if I’m going to play yet. I feel like (college athletics) is more like a job. I don’t know if I want to do that, because high school is fun. You are out here with all of your friends. College is a different experience and you have to focus on your school work.”
“I’ve got time to think about it and make my decision then.”
That ‘decision” is for another time; what tonight is for is to add yet another page in the book of greatness that Blair has authored. One of the best of the best is competing right in front of us this school year, don’t worry about tomorrow, just enjoy today.
For more on prep football throughout the state of Indiana, follow Tom Davis on Twitter at Tom101010 and on Facebook at Thomas Davis.