As the center who carries a 4.2 grade-point average, Jarrod Smith is the clear leader of the Carrollwood Day School football team.
Smith has been starting at center for the Patriots since he was an eighth-grader. Five years later and 65 pounds heavier, Smith is a senior looking at Ivy League schools while trying to lead his team to the playoffs. He has been with the Patriots since the inception of the program and he's been through the low points that come with a startup program, to the highs that come with success.
"It was tough at first,'' Smith said. "Week in and week out, just working so hard. I was getting beaten all over the place the first year, but now I am getting revenge.''
When Smith started at Carrollwood, he was 5-foot-10 and getting knocked all over the place while playing one of the toughest positions on the field. He remembers getting beaten up at the line by opponents who were much bigger, but he has one more year with the Patriots to get some revenge. He has a long memory.
"This year I am grown and I am going to be taking it out on everybody,'' Smith said. "This is my team and I took it all for my first few years, but now it's my turn.''
Carrollwood went 6-4 last season, but all four losses came down to the final minute. The most excruciating was a loss to Admiral Farragut when the Patriots had a 24-0 lead only to give it away.
Smith has been through a lot and said he has a grip on how to lead during his senior year.
"I like to lead by example,'' Smith said. "I can be tough if I have to, but I also know to complement someone on a good play. That's important in leadership.''
The Patriots averaged 44 points-per-game last year and have a new quarterback after Vidal Woodruff transferred from Robinson. Wide receiver/defensive back Andy Embody scored five touchdowns in the spring game, and running back Robert Davis has already committed to Division I Cincinnati.
"If we stay healthy, that's the key,'' coach Lane McLaughlin said. "We were close in every game last year. We have 28 players right now and that's more than we had last year. We have built a great program here and it's going to continue.''