But he was beaten out by a senior who came out for football after a few years away from the program.
Carlson was despondent, but vowed to turn it into a positive.
Midway through the season, Carlson’s relentlessness was rewarded and he’s been the starter ever since, becoming a staple for a defense that helped the Middies qualify for the Division II, Region 6 playoffs for the first time in five years.
“Deep down, I felt I was a better football player,” he said. “I was more of a second-teamer, but every time I was on the field, I strove to do my best. Toward the second half of the year, I started starting and I haven’t looked back.”
Carlson and the Middies, seeded seventh following a 9-1 regular season, will travel to Toledo Central Catholic to take on the second-seeded and 9-1 Fighting Irish tonight at 7:30.
Longtime Midview coach Bill Albright lauded Carlson’s work ethic and mentality.
“Andrew’s one of those kids who came up through the program and bided his time until he finally got his shot,” Albright said. “What’s great about Andrew is that he never sulked or complained. He just went about his business and his play did his talking for him. Finally, his patience paid off.
“He’s got great height and great leverage for a defensive end. He always comes off the ball real hard and he’s just an aggressive player. The way he uses his leverage to get into the opposing linemen really helps disrupt plays.”
The outgoing seniors help vote on next season’s captains, and Carlson was not among those selected. However, Albright said that Carlson carries himself like a captain and has quickly become an emotional leader for the defense.
“Just the way he leads by example has a big impact on this team,” Albright said. “He’s working his tail off, but he’s having fun out there. You can tell he’s having a good time hitting people and tackling, and that rubs off on our defense.”
Carlson relishes being counted on for his leadership.
“We believe in leadership, never giving up and just keeping up with it,” he said. “It’s takes a lot to be a good leader. First of all, you’ve got to do your job as a defensive lineman. Once you do your job, that gets everyone going. You have to keep everyone’s heads up.
“Football’s a team game, and I believe the team comes first. I had a couple of mistakes last week, but you can’t look at the down parts. You have to focus on the up parts. Even though things go down a little bit during games, I always try to keep everyone’s spirits up, even when times are tough.”
Carlson uses his experience to help motivate the players who are on the second team.
“Coach always says, whenever someone got injured, there was always somebody else to step up,” he said. “We lost a good defensive lineman and leader in Zack Frambach, but we had backups who were able to fill the position that were able to make us a successful football program.
“Even though you’re second team, when you’ve got your chance to shine, you can shine.”
Carlson added to always practice hard because “you practice as you play,” and focus on improving yourself each time without worrying about what else is going on.
“If you do that, coaches will notice and give you a shot at varsity football,” he said.
Another thing Carlson said helped him was going out for the wrestling team last winter. Wrestling at 195 pounds, the inexperienced Carlson was going up against wrestlers who had been at the sport for many years, and he learned a lot just being out there.
“I only went .500 (record-wise), but the techniques I picked up from wrestling have helped me immensely on the football field,” he said. “Being a defensive lineman, you have to rely on a lot of hand and body movements and leverage. Wrestling allowed me to work on those fundamentals together in a one-on-one atmosphere.”
Carlson, with the help of Albright, is starting to look at colleges. He said that Mount Union and Baldwin Wallace are on his radar.
“I’m definitely looking to play at the college level, and whatever feedback I get from coaches determines what I do,” he said. “If I walk on somewhere or get accepted into a college program, I’m definitely looking at playing at the collegiate level.”
For now, though, Carlson is focused on the playoffs and Toledo Central Catholic.
“It’s going to be a big game, no doubt about it,” Carlson said. “As long as we play as we played in the beginning of the season against Elyria and not get discouraged about their size, we should be OK. As long as our seniors step up their game with their leadership, it should be a good game.”
Contact Dan Gilles at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.