Pearl coach John Perry believed he was going to have a pretty good team in 2017, but early in the season he felt he needed some more aggressiveness from his offensive line in order to make a good team into a great one.
“After the first couple of games, I realized we needed some fight on the offensive line,” Perry said. “Davion Carter was a backup defensive end and he was talented and had been practicing well. So I decided to move Davion over to the offensive line. He started at center and was one of the few sophomores to start that year. He was eager to play and it showed.”
With Carter at center, Pearl started clicking. The Pirates went from a good team to a great one. Even better than great, Pearl became a state championship team. Pearl went 16-0 and won the Class 6A state title.
“It was different at first, but I had played a little center in junior high so I knew I had to do what was best for the team,” Carter said. “At first, it was tough as any job in 6A football for a sophomore, but I had a lot of guys around me who helped me out. In the end, we won state and I had a year of experience under my belt.”
Carter, now a 6-foot-3, 275-pound senior, started for three years at Pearl and played center, guard and tackle. He has become one of the best offensive linemen in Mississippi. Carter is scheduled to start at left guard today in the Mississippi-Alabama All-Star Game at Southern Miss in Hattiesburg. Kickoff is at noon at M.M. Roberts Stadium.
Perry had many talks with Carter trying to get the best out of him.
“Coach really took the time not only to make sure we were physically fit but also mentally,” Carter said. “He put a lot of emphasis on life outside of football. He makes sure when you leave the program you are prepared for adversity and obstacles life has to offer.
“ l learned that it’s not all about me it’s about the team. That being selfish will lead to a miserable life. But being selfless and respectful will take you a long way with or without football. My performance really picked up when I went harder for the guy beside me than myself.”
Perry has sayings like E+P=O, DMGB and no BCD to motivate his players like Carter.
“Event plus response equals outcome, which means you can’t control what happens to you, but you always control how you react,” Carter said. “Don’t matter get better means whatever happens use it to get better. And when something goes wrong don’t blame, complain or defend yourself because it won’t help anybody.”
‘Davion went from a player with some behavior issues like wanting to quit when it got tough as a sophomore to a quality person with good grades and a great work ethic,” Perry said. “He’s like a sponge on wanting to learn about plays and studying film. He’s become an outstanding player.”
Carter was selected a first team offensive lineman on the Priority One Bank/Mississippi Scoreboard All-Metro Team, on the first team of the Mississippi Association of Coaches Class 6A All-State Team and on the first team of the MaxPreps All-State team. Carter was the leader of Pearl’s offensive line, which opened holes for star running back Kenyatta Harrell, who was one of top rushers in the nation before he suffered a season-ending knee injury vs. Petal in the first quarter of the fifth game of the season. Harrell had gained an amazing 1,027 yards and 15 touchdowns before his injury. But Carter and his teammates continued to produce with Harrell’s backups running the ball. Pearl averaged 227.1 rushing yards per game.
“Davion is going to be one of those guys that flies under the radar on recruiting because of his height,” Perry said. “But he’s going to grow. His dad is about 6-7 (Bobby played basketball at Noxapater High and East Central Community College). He’s going to make someone a great player.”
“I’m considering Jackson State, (national junior college champion) Mississippi Gulf Coast (Community College), Northwest Mississippi (CC) and East Mississippi (CC),” Carter said.
“Davion has come a long way,” Perry said. “I believe he has a bright future.”