Just getting started: Sophomore Eli Carroll named to GAPPS All-State team

Published 8:00 am Wednesday, December 13, 2023

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When most football players become a starter for the first time at a high school level, it is a struggle with growing pains aplenty. Not for Lafayette Christian’s Eli Carroll, who was named to the GAPPS All-State team for his play during his sophomore campaign.

“I was feeling amazing when I found out because I really didn’t think that I would get it,” Carroll said. “I just love being a part of this team. I feel like everybody on the team could be an All-State player this year.”

It was a meteoric rise for Carroll, who went from playing sporadically as a freshman to being one of the best defensive ends in the state. Even though Carroll did not play much as a freshman, those reps helped get him prepared for what was to come.

“A couple of our seniors got injured late in the season and I had to step up and try to make an impact,” Carroll said. “I was pretty nervous going into the games because everybody was bigger than me.”

A natural growth spurt and some work in the gym means that Carroll is no longer undersized when he straps the pads on.

Carroll had big shoes to fill coming into the season as the team had to replace a GAPPS All-State defensive end from 2022 in Cal Evert. Carroll filled that role and then some as he locked down one side of the field for the Cougars with his rangy defensive play.

The stats for Carroll jumped off the page as he tallied 60 tackles, 14 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 3 blocked punts. His 14 sacks during the 2023 set a new school record.

He would love to break his own record in 2024 but has his eyes firmly set on a team goal.

“It was a really good year for us this year, but we want to take it a step forward next year and win state,” Carroll said. 

During his freshman year, the Cougars made it all the way to the state semis, and last year they fell in the state quarterfinals. He has had a taste of winning and has only gotten hungrier every step of the way. 

Despite his natural prowess for the position — not to mention the lineage as well with his father, Kevin,  playing linebacker/defensive end in his playing days — it was not the position he originally intended on playing.

“I played center in middle school and I will play anywhere coach (Jarred Pike) asks me to play and he said I’m going to be playing some on offense next year,” Carroll said. “

Carroll played center with the LCS middle school team before being asked to switch positions hedging into his freshman season. He was immediately game for the change and got to work with his father right away.

“I’ve been working with my dad on some moves, and he has helped me out a lot,” Carroll said. “I’ve always looked up to him and he was a rookie with the (Pittsburgh) Steelers.”

What is scary for the rest of the teams in GAPPS is that Carroll is only going to get better from here.

“I made some mistakes last year, and I have to make sure I’m trying to get better every day… and gain weight,” Carroll said with a laugh.