Dan PearsonBy:  J. Daniel Pearson
For Positively Osceola

Playing a bunch of freshmen and sophomores, the St. Cloud Bulldogs had a down football season last year. Only an improbable last minute 31-30 upset of Harmony salvaged what was a disappointing 3-6 season.

At end of the year, head coach Bryan Smart stepped down to become the school’s next athletic director and assistant coach Mike Short took over. And throughout the spring, Short talked about his team’s youth and the promise for the future.

“We were incredibly young last year and that isn’t going to change for the coming season,” Short said. “We’re going to be playing a lot of super young players and frankly we are probably a year away from seeing those kids develop. It’s could be another season of growing pains.”

When looking at the St. Cloud roster, Short’s assessment makes a lot of sense. Starting quarterback Logan King is entering just his sophomore year. Conner Howes is a promising 6-5, 270-lb. offensive lineman who is also just a sophomore; while Terrance Griffin – one of the team’s best defensive backs last season – led the Bulldogs in interceptions as a freshman.

And while Short has reason to be optimistic about the future, senior Noah Carr says the future is now for him.

“I’m excited about what this team might accomplish in a year or two, but this is my last season,” the 6-1, 200-lb. senior linebacker said. “Obviously the goal is to win as many games as possible, but I also know the coaches are going to rely on the seniors to lead this group.”

Short believes there is no one better to fill that role. “Noah Carr is typical of a St. Cloud kid. Maybe not the biggest kid on the field, but tough as nails and you know you are going to get a great effort from him every game, every quarter and every play.”

Carr, who earned all-state honors this past spring in the sport of weightlifting, joins senior defensive back Joe Clukey as the leaders of the St. Cloud defense. Last season, Carr led the Bulldogs in tackles (102) and tackles-for-loss (13) and tied for second in quarterback sacks (5).

It’s that type of production he knows he will have to duplicate or improve on this season.

“Last year was a strange season. We lost some kids for the season because of injury, had to deal with some suspensions and other distractions. The Harmony game made the season bearable, but I don’t think anyone was happy with the record,” Carr said. “We have some talent on this team but we are young. It’s going to be the responsibility of the seniors to lead the younger guys.”

As team pushes through summer workouts, Short is happy that Carr is ready to take the role of team leader. “The fact remains, he already has,” Short said. “We have had to do very little coaching during summer workouts because guys like Noah and Joseph have stepped up and taken a leadership role. They have the respect of the team and the younger guys have gravitated to them.”

In the future, Carr hopes to continue his playing career at the next level – something Short believes is more than possible. “A lot of schools, including some smaller D-1 schools are showing a lot of interest in him. He has ability, heart and desire to play at the next level and big senior year will generate more interest.”