Jacob Carroll, Marvin Ridge, so.: Jacob Carroll says “he is used to feeling different,” because he has dyslexia.
But for the Marvin Ridge sophomore, the same condition that has forced him approach his entire life differently, has helped define him as a person.
Carroll, 16, has not only found a way to succeed in the classroom (where he carries a 3.2-grade point average), but also on the football field, where he is key player on the Mavericks’ football team. The 5-foot-11, 200-pound running back rushed for nearly 800 yards and five touchdowns this season.
“Being different has made me who I am today,” Carroll said. “Dealing with dyslexia was and still is a struggle at times, but it is also a part of my life. I’ve learned that I just have to work harder than other people, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without having gone through those struggles. A lot of people would look at my condition as a problem, but for me now it has also become a blessing.”
After establishing himself as a key running back on the Marvin Ridge middle school football team and Mavericks’ J.V. squad, Carroll had a strong year in his first full varsity season as the backup to junior, Caleb Deveaux, a major, Division I recruit.
Carroll had several big performances this season, including a 119-yard, two-touchdown game against Garinger and 77 yards and two scores against Anson County.
But Carroll’s best game came when his Marvin Ridge team needed him most in the Nov. 25 playoff game at Jay M. Robinson, with Deveaux out with an injury.
Carroll stepped into the starting role, and rushed 170 yards to help lead Marvin Ridge to a 48-28 victory.
“Being thrust into the starting lineup in the playoffs is tough,” said Catherine Carroll, Jacob’s mother. “But after all the struggles Jacob has been through, it was just another challenge for him.
“It felt great to step up when my team needed me,” Carroll said. “Because you never know what you can do until you do it.”
For Carroll, his playoff performance was more evidence that he can accomplish great things. He also hopes to be an inspiration to other kids dealing with disabilities.
“I definitely want all the kids out there struggling with a disability to know that it doesn’t have to stop you from accomplishing your goals,” said Carroll, who works with some younger, area football players on their games. “I know I am not the only kid who has struggled with something like dyslexia. I hope that my story, my example can help other people.”
Sarah Billiard, Covenant Day Girls’ Basketball, sr.: Covenant Day senior, Sarah Billiard, continues to dominate the competition on the court this season, averaging a career-best 18.2 points and 18.5 rebounds per game.
Billiard, a 6-foot forward, had another monster week, 12 points, 21 rebounds and seven blocks in a 59-35 win over Metrolina Christian on Nov. 29 and followed that up two nights later with 22 points, 17 rebounds, six steals and five blocks to lead Covenant Day (4-2) to a 48-20 win over High Point Christian.
Billiard has signed to play volleyball at the University of Virginia.
RiKoya Anderson, Rock Hill Girls’ Basketball, jr.: Rock Hill junior, RiKoya Anderson, is filling up the box score for the Bearcats (2-2) this season, averaging 19.6 points, 10.2 rebounds and 3.3 steals per contest.
Anderson had one of her best games of the season last week, scoring 26 points, grabbing nine rebounds and three steals in a 67-41 win over York on Nov. 29. Anderson has an offer from USC Aiken and interest from Charlotte, Howard, USC Upstate and Winthrop.
Tyler McMillan, Gaston Day, fr.: Gaston Day freshman, Tyler McMillan, won both the 100 backstroke and 500 freestyle Dec. 2 against Gaston Christian.
McMillan set a personal-record in the 100 backstroke, finishing in 1:07.55.
DeAngelo Epps, Charlotte Country Day Basketball, so: The Bucs’ sophomore forward had one of the biggest weeks of his young career at Charlotte Country Day, averaging 18.3 points, 11 rebounds and two steals to help his team to a 2-1 record (last week).
Epps started his week with 21 points and 12 rebounds in a 57-50 win over Hickory Grove on Nov. 29.
The next night, the 6-foot-5 forward (averaging 13 points, seven rebounds per game this season), had another double-double with 22 points and 11 boards in a 58-44 win over Queens Grant.
Cam Adams, North Gaston Basketball, sr.: The 6-foot-3, North Gaston senior point guard has helped the Wildcats to a perfect 3-0 start, leading his team to victories over Bessemer City and Cherryville.
Adams had 14 points and six assists in a 65-58 victory over Bessemer City on Nov. 29 as the Wildcats used an 18-0 run to get the win.
Less than 24 hours later, Adams came back and posted 25 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the 89-72 win over Cherryville on Nov. 30.
North Gaston’s last winning season came in 2005 (16-11).
Nas Tyson, Forest Hills Basketball, so.: The Forest Hills’ sophomore averaged 20 points per game to lead the Yellow Jackets (4-0 this season) to three wins last week, beating North Stanly on Nov. 29, Piedmont on Dec. 2 and Anson on Dec. 3.
Tyson’s best performance game in a tight 72-70 victory over Piedmont, where he nearly had a triple-double with 25 points, 10 rebound and six assists.
Gabriel Young, South Iredell, jr.: Gabriel Young had not wrestled in a match this season until Dec. 3 because he was still playing nose guard for the South Iredell football team.
But in his first action of the season, Young, a 6-foot, 274-pound junior, won the heavyweight division (285) at the Indian Classic at St. Stephens High.
Young, who entered the tournament as the backup heavyweight, went a perfect 4-0 on the weekend, winning his first three matches by pin fall, before taking the championship match in a major decision.
Nolan Edens, Hopewell Wrestling, sr.: The Hopewell senior is off to a perfect 13-0 start on the mat in his senior season.
Edens won the 132-pound weight class championship at the Jim Hayes Invitational on Dec. 3 at East Mecklenburg, winning his 100th career match in the same event.
The Hopewell wrestling team also won the Jim Hayes Invitational team title.
Mark Sherrill, Hopewell Basketball, sr.: Mark Sherrill stands only 5-foot-6, weighing 150 pounds, but the Hopewell point guard has been huge for the Titans this season.
Sherrill filled up the stat sheet again last week with 21 points, six assists and five steals in a 73-54 win over Mooresville on Nov. 30. He came back two nights later and had 23 points, five assists and four rebounds in a tight, 71-68 victory over Lake Norman Charter.
Sherrill is the son of former Johnson C. Smith basketball, All-American of the same name, Mark Sherrill Sr., who is now a Golden Bulls’ assistant coach.
Jae’Lyn Withers, North Mecklenburg Basketball, so.: North Mecklenburg sophomore, Jae’Lyn Withers, continues to impress as he averaged 24.5 points and 11.5 rebounds last week in leading the Vikings to wins over Berry and East Mecklenburg.
Withers, the son of former Charlotte 49er and West Charlotte standout, Curtis Withers, had 26 points and nine rebounds in the 59-42 win over Berry, and 23 points and 14 rebounds to lead North Meck past East Meck, 86-52.
Withers is averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds per game this season.
Brian Stanley, sr., and Scott Harvey, jr., Christ the King Basketball: The Crusaders’ dynamic duo of Brian Stanley and Scott Harvey, helped Christ the King to a 76-31 win at Woodlawn School in their South Piedmont Athletic Association (SPAA) opener Dec. 2.
Stanley, a 6-foot senior guard, had a triple-double with 20 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists, while Harvey, a 6-foot-7 junior forward, poured in 30 points, including 6-for-7 from the three-point line, and 11 rebounds in the victory.
Jay Edwards is a freelance writer: email@example.com.
HELP US FIND THE ATHLETES
This season’s finest highlights high school athletes with outstanding performances. Information published today includes statistics through Dec. 4. In most cases, the athletes featured will come from sports that don’t get a lot of recognition. However, the goal is to recognize excellence. If you want to suggest someone to be included in This Fall’s Finest column, send email to Jay Edwards at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the athletes’ name, school, class and applicable game performance statistics. Coaches must be willing to verify information
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