By Matt Schickling
Wire Staff Writer
After jumping from school to school through the last four years, Father Judge quarterback and Hatboro local Zack Carroll finally found a home with the Crusaders, but soon, he’ll be looking to move elsewhere.
It’s not because of any animosity with teammates or coaches or because he wasn’t getting the playing time he deserves — he actually can’t say enough about what the program has done for him. It’s because he’s a graduating senior, and like all seniors, he has to move on.
“Knowing that my good friends might not be playing at the next level, I felt their pain,” Carroll said. “I started feeling my own pain.”
This reality sunk in two days before the team’s last game on Thanksgiving, an annual rivalry between Lincoln High School and Father Judge. Seniors were asked to speak to the team about their experience.
“Some kids gave a word of advice, others said thanks,” he said, but an emotional speech by teammate and friend Eric Petroski really stuck with Carroll.
“That’s when it hit me,” Carroll said. “All the work we put in, it’s gonna be over.”
But the team went out with a bang, not a whimper. The traditionally lopsided rivalry continued as Judge defeated the Railsplitters 42–7 for their 25th consecutive win, making their series record 37–3–1.
Carroll threw 3 for 3 for 76 yards and three touchdowns, one for each pass he made. He was named Most Valuable Player for the game, and he even got to play some defense at safety, something he hasn’t done since his sophomore year.
“I’m not big on personal achievement, it’s about team achievement. I’m glad we won the game,” he said. “Of course, personal achievement is humbling.”
With a 5–7 overall record, it seems like team achievements were hard to come by this season, but Carroll would beg to differ. After playing at both La Salle and Upper Moreland high schools through the last couple of years, he calls Judge the most team-oriented program he’s been a part of.
“The record doesn’t show how many strides you made as a team and as individuals,” he said. “Even if you’re not the best team in the league, you play like the best.”
Carroll even had to watch his team play without him for most of their game against Roman Catholic and the entirety of their matchup with St. Joseph’s Prep. He was sidelined by a concussion early in the Roman game.
“That’s when I started thinking, ‘I don’t have a lot of games left. I don’t want this to end,’ ” he said. He was able to return and play the last four games of the season.
Though the future is uncertain for Carroll, he does have some options to weigh.
In the next couple of months, he plans on visiting University of Dayton in Ohio, Marist College and Wagner College in New York and Kutztown, West Chester and Shippensburg universities, which are all interested in having him play football.
Carroll is “pretty sure” he hasn’t played his last football game, but he’s applying to Temple and Penn State as alternatives.
Regardless of his decision, his Father Judge experience gave him something else to think about — how much football, seemingly just a game, can mean to a guy on the cusp of the rest of his life.
“Our team and our coaches are a bunch of blue-collar guys,” he said. “The fight never stopped.”