Oxford Hills quarterback Colton Carson gets by Bonney Eagle defender Will Whyte after a quarterback draw. Carson scored on the play. (Brewster Burns photo)

Oxford Hills head coach Mark Soehren can think of several examples of when senior quarterback Colton Carson’s unselfishness shone through his own outstanding performances on the gridiron this fall.

“We were at Windham,” Soehren recalled. “Colton and a lot of the seniors were asking about getting (senior wide receiver) Michael Bonang a touchdown if we could. And we were down near the goal-line, so we called a play for him. Colton bobbled the snap, and he picked it up and, of course, he’s so athletic he ran in the end zone. As he’s coming off, he’s apologizing to Mike: ‘Mike, I’m really sorry. That was supposed to be your touchdown.’”

Soehren remembered another missed touchdown where he thought Carson had made a rare mistake, only to find Carson apologizing for Mother Nature’s meddling.

“We’re playing Cheverus,” Soehren recalled, “and the wind behind the bleachers was fine, but when you got past the bleachers, there was a good breeze. (Tight end) JJ Worster got behind the defense — and at this point the game was pretty well decided — Colton threw the ball over the top and it cleared the bleachers and the wind just took it.”

With the victory well in hand, Soehren, Worster and Carson discussed the play on the sideline.

“(Worster) told me the wind took it. And all Colton said was, ‘It’s too bad because JJ could have scored a touchdown,” Soehren said.

“He just doesn’t care about his personal stats. He just loves his teammates. He loves competing,” Soehren said. “I think a lot of people say they don’t care, but I think he might be the only person I know that doesn’t care about those individual accolades.”

“When you’re best player is as unselfish as he is, the rest of your team has to be that unselfish. It’s not a coincidence that he’s unselfish and that our team is unselfish and we went as far as we did.”

Oxford Hills went further than it had in nearly two decades due in large part to the tone Carson set with his leadership, as well as his impressive athletic achievements, which is why he is the 2018 Sun Journal All-Region Football Player of the Year.

The Vikings enjoyed their most successful season in a while with Carson leading the way, posting a 7-3 record, earning a first-round bye in the Class A North playoffs and reaching the regional final for the first time since 2000.

But one often got the sense from Carson’s words and actions that the wins and losses were secondary. He was enjoying the opportunity to play football with his teammates, particularly his classmates, one more time. And the more fun they had, the more fun he had.

“I always want my teammates to succeed,” Carson said. “I just feel like if my teammates are happy, we’ll play better as a whole. That’s just always been my motto all through my career.”

“Colton is a quiet leader who leads by example, leads by attitude,” Soehren said. “I never saw him upset all year — not with himself, he can let those things go — but certainly not with his teammates.”

Carson rarely had reason to be upset with himself or his teammates. The Class A North player of the year, he led the league with 16 rushing touchdowns and led all quarterbacks (and finished fourth overall) with 686 yards rushing in eight regular-season games.

A two-year starter, Carson made the biggest strides from his junior year in the passing game, tying for the league lead in touchdown passes with eight. He completed 62 of 130 attempts (48 percent) for 1,047 yards while throwing six interceptions.

Oxford Hills fell one play shy of its first state title game appearance since 1999, with a 21-14 overtime loss to Portland in the regional final. With that exception, it was a dream season for Carson, and also the kind that would make college football recruiters take notice. But Carson has already made his future plans known, having signed a letter of intent to enroll and play baseball at the University of Maine in 2019.

Carson’s last stand on the gridiron may not have ended the way he wanted, but he vowed not to let it overshadow the fun ride he and his teammates enjoyed getting there.

“I’ve definitely been able to look back and see how great of a season we had and how special it was,” Carson said. “I am very glad to be a part of that. It was nothing but great memories and great bonds and friendships I made. That will stick with me for a long time.”


Comments are not available on this story.