If you have time only to examine Derek Carr from one angle, it's human nature to choose the perspective of Bob Barnett.
Barnett is the longtime Central Section historian and statistician, and he's out of breath by the time he's done rattling off all of the things Carr has accomplished this past season as Bakersfield Christian's quarterback.
"OK, attempts in a season, 413, that's a section record," Barnett started. "Completions in a season, 280, that's a new section record. Completions in a game, his best was 37, that ties a section record. Highest completion percentage, his was 67.8, that's third-best. Yards in a game, 544, that's a section record. Passing yardage in a season, his was 4,068, that's second-best. TD passes in a game, he had six in two games, there's one kid with seven. TD passes in a season, 46, that's second best.
"I'd say it's about as good a season as anybody's ever had in the section. How many categories did I give you? That's one of the best seasons ever."
Carr grew up in Bakersfield but moved to Texas when his brother, Stockdale graduate, Fresno State star and No. 1 draft pick David Carr, was signed by the NFL's Houston Texans. His family moved back to be with an ill grandparent, who died just before the Carrs completed their move.
It has worked out tremendously well for Bakersfield football. Carr has done things in his one year at BCHS that have rarely or never been seen before around these parts. For that, he is The Bakersfield Californianhigh school football Player of the Year.
There are many ways to digest Carr's tremendous year. The statistics, fantastic as they look, are but the Obvious Way. There's so much more to Carr than that.
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Start with Carr's past. He's 17 years old, 12 years younger than David, but when anyone heard Derek was coming back to California for his senior season, he was continually introduced as "David Carr's brother."
Turns out, when examining their high school careers, there's really no comparison.
"For sure, he's farther along than I was," said David Carr, who spent more than five seasons in the NFL as a starting quarterback and now backs up Eli Manning for the Super Bowl champion New York Giants. "We're pretty similar as far as, he's not 200 pounds out of high school like a lot of guys are, but he's not physically where he's going to be. But definitely, his knowledge and football savvy - he knows the position a lot better than I did. I knew two or three plays. He's running a complicated offense."
And that's the next way to look at Derek: The Prodigious Way. Because the youngest Carr (there's a brother in the middle, Darren, who played defensive line at Bakersfield College and the University of Houston and now coaches d-linemen at Bakersfield High) spent so much time studying film with David - even with their age difference - he's already a veteran when it comes to reading defenses, changing plays, making reads and moving the ball.
That comes from years as a young understudy to David.
"Derek's seen what David had to do to get where he was," said their father Rodger Carr, who briefly played quarterback at a high school in Santa Cruz before suffering a knee injury and switching to a sport, basketball, that he played at Cal State Bakersfield. "He knows the road and what it takes. That helps out a lot: Being able to say, 'If I do this, this could happen.'"
That includes off-the-field issues, like how to deal with the media or respond to inevitable criticism.
"The blessings or the horrible things, it's always easier when someone has gone down that path before you," Bakersfield Christian coach Doug Barnett said. "You learn from it, and he has been a sponge."
Most of all, though, that helped with football. As early as age 12 or 13, Derek would sit in with David during his private film sessions the days before an NFL game and soak up information.
"I knew what the Jaguars were doing when I was watching the game," Derek said. "I would say, 'David's going to throw a fade or a slant to the left, Rashean Mathis is going to jump this route, and it's going to be open.'
"Football is my passion and any time I can get better or take any advice from anybody, I'm going to go for it. And to have a brother in the position I have, you couldn't draw it up any better."
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That all is not to say Carr has rode the coattails of his older brother anywhere. Watch him throw a pass -- or better yet, a game's worth or a season's worth -- and you'll see that.
This is The Beautiful Way of looking at Derek Carr.
His passes are tight spirals, and it is uncommon to see them not hit an intended receiver in stride.
Coach Doug Barnett, shortly after Carr came to Bakersfield Christian, called him "as good a quarterback as I've ever seen in high school football at this level," and after the season, he still marveled at Carr's ability to get rid of the ball accurately under pressure and to make sound decisions.
Not all of that, surely, comes from film sessions with David.
"Playing catch, hitting spots, it's like muscle memory," Derek Carr said. "During the game, you can't really think, 'I've got to put the ball in his hands.' You're busy reading the D, looking at linebackers and whether they're dropping.
"Most of all, it's just a blessing from God. You see a lot of guys forcing stuff, but for me, it looks natural. You look at Peyton Manning and what he can do. That's just a blessing God has given him."
Rodger Carr is quick to point out that there's something else to his son's success, too.
"(Other) parents ask me that: 'Is there a secret?'" Rodger Carr said. "Really, first of all you've got to have the God-given talent, but you also have to want it and work your tail end off. I remember a guy saying to me when David was drafted, saying that David hit the lottery. I said no, David worked his tail off. And Derek's seen what David had to do to get where he was. He knows the road that it takes. And after a game on Friday night, he's in the weight room Saturday morning for a workout."
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So why did the Carrs decide to once again grace Bakersfield with their presence in time for Derek’s senior year? It starts, Rodger Carr said, with Derek.
Last season, playing for Sugar Land-Clements High School in the Houston area, Derek Carr led his team to 13 straight victories and the Class 5A state quarterfinals. After senior-laden Clements lost to national power Katy and ended its year, Derek came to his parents.
“He goes, ‘I wanna play my senior year in California,’” Rodger recalled. “And, you know, not too many kids want to move, especially before their senior year. But we wanted to come back anyhow; we were just staying to let Derek finish up.” So when Derek gave the green light, the family started looking for houses in Bakersfield — in the Stockdale school district, hoping Derek could attend the same school David and Darren did, where David’s name still is on the scoreboard and where Dave Lonsinger, the offensive coordinator the Carrs knew from David’s days, was still on staff.
But in the meantime, Stockdale hired Mike Snow from Frontier as its new head coach. Snow is a Wing T specialist and promptly installed that run-heavy offense for the Mustangs.
“Derek, he just came to me one night (and said), ‘Dad, I don’t want to just throw the ball five times a game my senior year,’” Rodger Carr said. “Stockdale had to make a decision — and hey, they had a great year and in the long run, that’s a great thing for them. But for Derek’s senior year, he didn’t just want to hand the ball off.”
So Rodger heeded the advice of a couple of family friends and checked out nearby Bakersfield Christian, which had sprung up as a small-school football power since the Carrs had left.
A quick chat with coach Barnett and a game of pick-up with the returning Bakersfield Christian players later, Derek was an Eagle. It just so happened that BCHS ran a spread offense and already had some prolific athletes to surround Carr with. The rest (and Bob Barnett will tell you this is meant literally) is history.
Perhaps this is the Fateful Way of Carr’s story. Or, if you think like the Carrs do, it’s The Faithful Way.
“It’s like I was telling my mom (Sheryl) before the season,” Derek said. “I’m nervous, but I know God can work it out. My parents have always said God has things under control, and I believe that.”
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There is another way to view Carr’s senior season, one that looks at Bakersfield Christian’s competition and shrugs. The Eagles play in the Central Section’s Division V. In the playoffs, they didn’t play a game closer than their 49-27 victory at Corcoran in a fog-shrouded championship. Some of the conquered hinted that BCHS ought to be in a higher division.
What does that say about Carr’s statistics? Would he have had such a great year if the Eagles played a Division I schedule? This is the crux of The Skeptics’ Way.
BCHS did play a tough regular-season schedule, with games against state-ranked Westlake Village-Oaks Christian, Division III section champion Tehachapi and Division IV semifinalist Visalia-Central Valley Christian.
And the Eagles continually wowed opponents. Small school or not, Carr, who had played three years for a large-school Texas team, had turned BCHS into a Central Section powerhouse.
“I think anybody that watched us knows,” Rodger Carr said. “It was just one of those years. There was a ton of talent on this team.”
• • •
In Bakersfield Christian’s first game of the season, against Oaks Christian, Derek was flushed out of the pocket and scrambled toward the sideline and leapt as he approached the defender, flipping over him and landing on the sideline. “I got up and went back to the huddle, and everybody was like, ‘Man, that was cool,’” Carr said. “From then on, that was like a defining moment. They knew I was actually out here trying to win.”
Almost all of those goals were accomplished. But this chapter in Carr’s life has very quickly come to a close. So what is The Next Way?
Well, in a few weeks, Carr will be a student at Fresno State, where he has verbally committed over dozens of big-conference colleges (he can’t sign a binding national letter of intent until February). He’ll return to Bakersfield for May graduation, but he’s already completed his necessary high school coursework and is enrolling early at FSU so he can start practicing with the Bulldogs during the spring.
Then Derek hopes to do what David did: Lead Fresno State to national prominence and reach the NFL. “There’s no doubt he has the athletic ability,” David Carr said. “I’m biased when I say these things, but he’d throw right with us (NFL quarterbacks). You couldn’t even tell it was a different guy.”
And, most believe, Derek’s maturity isn’t far behind. At a Fresno State recruiting function held earlier this month, Rodger Carr recalls a conversation he had with FSU coach Pat Hill. The coach couldn’t believe that his prize recruit, a 17-year-old still in high school, was the life of the party. Didn’t matter who he was talking to – a fifth-year senior, a coach, a parent or a fellow recruit – Derek brought out the best in those around him.
That’s been the story all season.
“As a program, we’re going to be the best we can be,” BCHS coach Doug Barnett said. “And in that regard, Derek has exceeded everything we could have hoped. It’s been a dream and a blessing for us and for him.”